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  1.  (6510.1)
    From Jonah Weiner, at slate.com, the three biggest reasons music magazines are dying.:

    Late last month, Vibe magazine announced that it was ceasing publication. The next day, word arrived that Spin was laying off a half-dozen staffers. In late March, Blender folded outright, and a few months before that, Rolling Stone trimmed its masthead. (Blender hired me out of college in 2002, and I worked there until its demise.) For this strange moment, at least, many onetime professional music nerds share a common experience with many onetime investment bankers: whiplash.

    Some of the problems that have beset music magazines are familiar from discussions about the publishing industry's woes in general: Readership's down, advertising's down, the old guard has been slow in adapting to the Internet. But like newspapers and shelter titles, music magazines have proven especially vulnerable.

    1. There are fewer superstars, and the same musicians show up on every magazine cover.

    2. Music mags have less to offer music lovers, and music lovers need them less than ever anyway.

    3. Music magazines were an early version of social networking. But now there's this thing called "social networking" …
  2.  (6510.2)
    3. Music magazines were an early version of social networking. But now there's this thing called "social networking" …

    This is actually true. Bands would advertise for members in the back of music papers, people would buy and sell instruments in the back of music papers -- and that was pretty much the only place you could do it.

    1. There are fewer superstars, and the same musicians show up on every magazine cover.

    Not sure about this one. Could be a UK/US split, because god knows the UK music papers used to love INVENTING superstars. Slap a new act on the cover with BIG LETTERS explaining WHY YOU CARE ABOUT THIS. Case in point: the Libertines. The Libertines' biggest single was their last one, and their biggest album was a hit only after they split. They were never a "big" band. The music press simply DECIDED they were, and installed them in the Rock Canon.

    If Vibe and Blender couldn't use their imaginations, then they deserved to die.
    •  
      CommentAuthorizenmania
    • CommentTimeAug 3rd 2009
     (6510.3)
    Well, I think to some degree 2 and 3 have led to 1 being more valid. The less need/use for the magazines musicians have, the more desperate the publishers become to attract attention. Whether they're correct or not, many of them seem to believe that this means focusing their covers on known artists. If people aren't picking them up regardless of the cover, they lose the confidence to go out on any sort of limb with their material.
  3.  (6510.4)
    Bands would advertise for members in the back of music papers, people would buy and sell instruments in the back of music papers -- and that was pretty much the only place you could do it.
    I still see this is local, free papers. Difference is the ads in the papers are also available on that paper's website.


    If Vibe and Blender couldn't use their imaginations, then they deserved to die.
    Yes.
  4.  (6510.5)
    I rarely if ever see a band I think is worth listening to in a music mag. As a whole they're not so much different than mags about comics, no?
  5.  (6510.6)
    I rarely if ever see a band I think is worth listening to in a music mag. As a whole they're not so much different than mags about comics, no?

    Who reads magazines about comics anymore?

    I confess, I do spend one or two nights a month googling bands mentioned in THE WIRE magazine who sound good.
    •  
      CommentAuthorizenmania
    • CommentTimeAug 3rd 2009
     (6510.7)
    I still read Wizard, but that's because the latest issue always ends up sitting next to my toilet, via my roommate. Every long once in a while there is something worthwhile (like the article that turned me on to Tales Designed To Thrizzle). Not often enough for me to buy it myself, though.
    • CommentAuthorBoga_
    • CommentTimeAug 3rd 2009 edited
     (6510.8)
    Well I had an exceptionally insightful post all typed up but my browser crashed, so here's the abridged version.

    The way i see it, music magazines are risk-averse enterprises who keep relying on the same stock label-approved artists and bands instead creating a sort of "publication discourse", that is, defining their approach towards an ever-increasing industry which is becoming more and more homogenous due to changing consumer habits and the enormous speed at which online publications create and publish new content. Plus, online publications now have the edge not only on the volume and ease of publishing new content but also on the sheer quality of their product.
    Music mags like Rollingstone are going through more or less the same problem that major label record companies are facing, they are becoming more and more obsolete in the face of new alternatives, choosing to grasp at their lost cultural relevance instead of finding viable alternatives to content the majority of their public can get for free with two minutes of online browsing.
    •  
      CommentAuthorAdmiral Neck
    • CommentTimeAug 3rd 2009 edited
     (6510.9)
    I confess, I do spend one or two nights a month googling bands mentioned in THE WIRE magazine who sound good.

    Wonder how safe Wire is. Does it have any serious shelf competition? The music they cover is very "niche", whereas other UK music magazines have more overlap (Q is the vanilla Uncut, Mojo is the inept Uncut) and cover more traditional and mainstream bands. The next big UK music magazine closure should come from there. (Please, not Uncut.)
  6.  (6510.10)
    I used to read Sounds, Melody Maker and NME religiously every week (up to about '95 or thereabouts) until they started really irritating me, but I can't see anyone needing or wanting to do that now that they've got Google. The problem for me, I guess, is relevance - why would I want to pay 3 quid or so when I couldn't care less about 90% of the content and I can get much of the information for nothing? Maybe I'm also old and jaded and have learned that musicians often aren't all that interesting...
  7.  (6510.11)
    Never really liked SOUNDS. Wanted to like NME, but for every Swells there were nine or ten complete cunts, so why bother. I was a Melody Maker reader, until they felt the need to go "commercial." I've mentioned before seeing a December MM with Fred Durst posing in front of a Xmas tree throwing a gang sign with a cracker in his hand, and thinking, "just fucking die, before you embarrass yourself any more." And they did.

    The important thing about music journalism isn't the "information" -- it's the writing, the evocation, the discovery and the curation. Musicians are interesting when they're asked interesting questions. If you just want a gig guide or a list of this week's new releases, then, yeah, Google's your friend. If you want to know WHY you should listen to something, or if you want to find out all about something you never heard of before, or you want to know what's REALLY similar to the stuff you like, not what a poxy last.fm or pandora algorithm thinks... you need music journalists.
    •  
      CommentAuthorjoe.distort
    • CommentTimeAug 3rd 2009 edited
     (6510.12)
    The important thing about music journalism isn't the "information" -- it's the writing, the evocation, the discovery and the curation. Musicians are interesting when they're asked interesting questions. If you just want a gig guide or a list of this week's new releases, then, yeah, Google's your friend. If you want to know WHY you should listen to something, or if you want to find out all about something you never heard of before, or you want to know what's REALLY similar to the stuff you like, not what a poxy last.fm or pandora algorithm thinks... you need music journalists


    its because of this that i still read MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL every single month. it has its good years and its bad years, based on who is running it. mostly, since it is non-profit and has never been beholden to advertising dollars (in the manner that large magazines are. yes, they still have ad revenue, but its mostly labels run out of someones house etc not huge corporate dollars that come with conditions and contracts) or the tastes of the public it has survived.

    it has adapted with the times. MRR used to have a 10+ page classifieds section. the whole thing is gone. their used to be a lot of things that have had to change as the zine has evolved, and it still has its die-hard supporters who sell out the 10,000 copy print run (in their heyday, they were only doing a little over twice that anyway, so yes they have been hit by this print-dying-oh-shit effect as well) every month.
  8.  (6510.13)
    @Warrenellis

    And that´s why i just don´t seem to bother now with 99% of music titles nowadays. When i was in the UK in May, i decided to buy a copy of the NME and see what it was like. It was pretty much all filler, with nobody writing anything that seemed really inspiring to me. It was more like OK! magazine for indie fans.

    Apart from Wire (where i see some old school NME and MM writers there), can anyone recommend where some decent music journalism out there?
  9.  (6510.14)
    There's also the fact that the broadsheet newspapers poached lots of music writers and started devoting more space to album/singles/gig reviews. This seemed to climax in John Harris' article bemoaning the lack of music journalism...published in the Guardian.
  10.  (6510.15)
    @Kernowdrunk

    The guardian does some pretty good stuff. The observer music monthly pullout is okay for a varied read as well
  11.  (6510.16)
    When the next year's big things are decided three months in advance by record execs and music station heads , and not by the impassioned and unpredictable rantings of a few drug-fuelled nutjobs who have the ability to make you believe them , it's game over.
    •  
      CommentAuthorAdmiral Neck
    • CommentTimeAug 3rd 2009 edited
     (6510.17)
    There's also the fact that the broadsheet newspapers poached lots of music writers and started devoting more space to album/singles/gig reviews. This seemed to climax in John Harris' article bemoaning the lack of music journalism...published in the Guardian.

    At least he's still writing music stuff. Many of the others have moved on to TV stuff. Caitlin Moran, Andrew Mueller (God, I loved him and Taylor Parkes in MM), Stephen Dalton...
    The important thing about music journalism isn't the "information" -- it's the writing, the evocation, the discovery and the curation.

    Which is why music journalists stick in the mind so much. Some of them made such a huge difference to my life even when I thought they were psuedy cunts. Probably because of that. I still remember Everett True dissing Beck's Odelay by saying no one would be listening to it five years after release, and I'm still putting it on now and then and shouting, "Shows how much you fucking knew!" No other type of journalist spoke to us during our formative years with such passion, accuracy, and gilded hyperbole to the extent that years later I think I'm winning an argument that doesn't exist any more. Bless (almost) the lot of 'em.

    Now what do I do? Read Pitchfork and AV Club, maybe The Quietus. And Uncut occasionally (still got some of the old MM/NME crew in there). There's still room for that kind of crazy "curation", as Mr. Ellis puts it. Sad to lose the magazines, but I think the muso journo will live on somehow. Not that anyone was saying they were dying out, but I have had moments where I think, "Where is the next Ian Penman? Do I want another Ian Penman?"
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      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeAug 3rd 2009
     (6510.18)
    A mate of mine named Carl Wilson is a fine music journalist. Even though he wrote a defense of Celine Dion, he's always worth reading.
  12.  (6510.19)
    I find blogs more interesting for music. Give me some kid obsessed with, say, 90's noise rock, and for every Jesus Lizard or Cows album, he'll tell you about 10 other albums by bands you've never heard of but which are good to really good, too. (And he'll post them free, which I have thoughts on but is another matter for another thread I guess). There are some sites like markprindle.com with in depth reviews and great interviews that a mag like Rolling Stone would NEVER do. Big reason. Money, duh. Interviewing Bono for the thousandth time or declaring John Mayer one of the all time great guitar players sells mags. Doing a cover story on twenty years of Alice Donut? Not so much.
  13.  (6510.20)
    @Admiral Neck

    where is Catlin Moran on TV nowadays? I thought she was writing in the Times. I remeber she did Naked City in the early 90´s with Johnny Vaughn. I only remember her doing an interview with Henry Rollins where i think he made her cry.