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UK freelance journalist, author
and copywriter Sean McManus

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Music journalism

I have written for magazines including Making Music, Melody Maker and Future Music and I have a particular interest in music technology.

How to record music on your PC

Artificially coloured close-up of keyboardI'm working on recording my synth music now, and am writing articles that share my experience along the way. Discover useful reviews, tips, tools and techniques here:


Book cover: EarwormSean McManus's novel 'Earworm' is a satire of the music industry, based around a major record label and all those who invest their hopes and dreams in it. The book is independently published and can be bought online now.

"Raising a number of surprisingly sophisticated issues, this book is enjoyably cynical about the seemingly cold-hearted and impenetrable nature of the record industry and peppered with a number of highly comical cameos from the cream of rock'n'roll, which ensures that it never feels like heavy going."
- Record Collector Magazine. More great reviews!

Alan Wilder / Depeche Mode auction

Depeche Mode, spray painted on tour wardrobeIn September 2011, I attended Alan Wilder's auction of Depeche Mode and Recoil memorabilia in Manchester. The day included a Q&A with Alan Wilder, a chance to try iconic Depeche Mode instruments, and an opportunity to own a piece of Depeche Mode or Recoil history from Alan's personal collection. See my photos of the Depeche Mode auction and read my article about it here.

The Future of the Music Industry

From the Beatles to Frank Zappa, bands have sung about being free. But they meant spiritually, not economically. At a time when music is being devalued, how can record labels fight back? In this article, Sean McManus looks at how bands and record labels are finding creative ways to create value around music.

As bands, record labels and fans work out the economics of the new music industry together, I've been watching with interest. Read my blog for the latest views, or check out my archive posts Nine Inch Nails in the coffin of the music industry, Gwen Stefani's licence to print money, Radiohead: Is DRM somewhere over In Rainbows?, Prince and the price of music, and The Independent and free music.

Jean-Michel Jarre

Jean-Michel Jarre In March 2007, I travelled to Lint in Belgium to be at Jean-Michel Jarre's showcase for his new album 'Teo & Tea'. It's like Chronologie and Metamorphoses cross-bred with dance music, and the intimate club-style gig was a day to remember. It was followed by a Q&A session and a fan meet and greet. My report includes many exclusive photos from the day. See also my review of the Oxygene residency in Paris in 2007 and the 2009 In-Doors Tour at Wembley Arena.


PrinceDuring summer 2007, Prince set up a residency at London's former Millennium Dome and played 21 dates. I was there for six of them. Read my review of Prince's O2 gigs, and my analysis of Prince's decision to give away his album 'Planet Earth' with a Sunday newspaper.

Live Earth: the view from the pitch at Wembley

Live Earth logo The concerts for a climate in crisis took place 7/7/7. I was on the pitch at the new Wembley Stadium to see Genesis, Foo Fighters, Madonna, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Razorlight, Paolo Nuttini, Beastie Boys, Metallica, Spinal Tap, Duran Duran and many more. Read my review of Live Earth.

Playing music on the Nintendo DS

If you've got Nintendo's DS handheld games console, read my blog posts about Electroplankton, Jam Sessions, Korg DS-10 and Guitar Hero.

100 bands I've seen live

I started by compiling a list of 100 bands I've seen live and the list keeps growing. If you compile your own list, let me know and I'll link to it.

Kylie Minogue

Kylie's so famous even her pants can go on tour. The V&A Museum hosted an exhibition of her wardrobe in 2007. Here's my review of Kylie at the V&A, together with some stock photos from the show.

You can also read my review of Kylie's 2008 gig at the O2.

77 Million Paintings by Brian Eno

Screengrab of 77 Million PaintingsBrian Eno's latest project is a DVD-based software package that layers and combines hand-made slides to generate 77 Million Paintings. Accompanied by a generative music soundtrack, the package creates ambient art that is unique each time it is run.

Read the full review of '77 Million Paintings' by Brian Eno.

Erasure pioneers customised MP3 sales

Digital single artwork: Don't Say You Love MeSean McManus reports on a new technology that enables you to mix a version of chart hit 'Don't Say You Love Me' and then download your preferred mix as an MP3.

The website won't sell the same mix twice, which means every version of the single is a limited edition of one. Read more about Erasure's technology for mass customising MP3s.

Mike Oldfield

Screengrab of MaestroIn 2004, Mike Oldfield released a new cooperative computer game he'd designed. The puzzles are fiendishly difficult but if you can crack them, the prize is access to some exclusive music. Throughout the game, there is theme music composed by Mike that fades in and out as you approach different zones. I took a flight through Maestro with Mike Oldfield.

ExileInside and My Life Story

Jake Shillingford Now on to their second album, ExileInside is the new band from Jake Shillingford, who fronted My Life Story. I've followed both bands for years: Read the ExileInside interview here and then dip into the archive for my first My Life Story interview, in which Jake explains how My Life Story came together and how debut album Mornington Crescent was recorded. In 1999, I interviewed him about My Life Story's free e-single, one of the first digital record releases to use secure digital rights management.

Inspiral Carpets

Tom Hingley thumbnail This Inspiral Carpets mini-site collects together several interviews, gig reviews and exclusive photographs. There's an interview with Tom from 1993, an interview with Tom and Martyn from 2003 and articles about Tom and Clint's solo projects between the Inspirals and the 2003 reunion.

Colin Vearncombe / Black

Colin VearncombeRead about the origins of worldwide hit 'Wonderful Life' and how it has influenced Colin Vearncombe's songwriting in this 1993 Black interview conducted when Colin was on tour in Germany.

In my 2000 interview with Colin, I ask him about the album 'Abbey Road Live' that saw this song among others re-recorded acoustically. Read my review of Black's 2007 tour with The Christians on my blog.

They Might be Giants

"If we wanted to be quirky," the two Johns begin, "we'd be a lot more quirky." Known primarily for 'Birdhouse in your Soul', the band discusses the sincerity of their songwriting in this They Might Be Giants interview

Archive reviews

Here's a selection of short gig reviews I wrote for Making Music magazine

Promoting your music online

Cartoon of axe-wielding pop star I wrote a regular column for Making Music about music technology and promoting your music on the internet. I've archived some of those columns in the section of my site formerly known as the 'virtual a&r list'. Click here for the music technology articles and advice on promoting your music online.

Rock and Pop concert photography

Photo of T'Pau in concert I'm interested in concert photography and have a selection of concert photos in my gallery. While many of them are exclusive to this website, some have appeared with my reviews in Making Music.

Bands featured include My Life Story, Kenickie, Radiohead, T'Pau, Babybird, Noel Gallagher, Whale and Right Said Fred.