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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Demise Of The Music Magazine

In a post on Slate.com, journalist Jonah Weiner of the now defunct Blender magazine postulates on the reasons why music magazines are quickly falling by the wayside. In the last 4 months Spin and Vibe both closed down along with Blender, and Rolling Stone cut their masthead, which leaves the world of music journalism pretty thin these days.

Here are Weiner's reasons for music magazine's demise with my comments afterwards:

1. There are fewer superstars, and the same musicians show up on every magazine cover. We used to have a new music trend every 11 years or so, which supplied us with a new round of musicians that at least some of us cared about. Grunge was about the last trend to take the music world by storm and that hit it's peak in the early 90's and was gone by the turn of the century. Here we are some 20 years down the road with nothing new to capture our musical imaginations. No wonder we're bored with music. The farm team has faded.

2. Music mags have less to offer music lovers, and music lovers need them less than ever anyway. Music magazines were the social networks of music lovers (sometimes called an "affinity group") before there were social networks. We waited for the mag to come out to read about the latest gossip about our favorite artist or a review on her latest release. No need to wait these days, you can immediately find any info from either a musical gossip site, a blog or even from the website of the artist herself. And no need to wait for reviews when you can find out everything you need to know about a new release from people you trust on any social network you choose.

3. Music magazines were an early version of social networking. But now there's this thing called "social networking." As I pointed out above, the Internet has killed any reason to pick up a magazine. You can get more info than you ever wanted with a Google or Wikipedia search for free.

I'll add a 4th.

4. The coolness factor. Once upon a time, if your friends saw you were reading a music magazine, they thought that you were cool. You were in-the-know and plugged-in. We're way past that now. Today you're looked upon as a dinosaur and as some out-of-touch relic who just doesn't get it. You talk about newspapers dying. At least they have news that's only a day or two old and even some exclusive info. With a mag, your news is at least a month old and maybe more. Who wants to be that irrelevant?

No matter what magazine you pick up these days, they're way thinner than they used to be. The advertisers have figured it out, but most publishers still cling to the past. It's hard to blame them. Who wants to change when they've had it so good for so long?

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