Like A Rolling Stone?
Are music magazines important or even relevant anymore?
There was a time, way back before the advent of the internet, when rags such as Rolling Stone, SPIN, Q, MOJO, Trouser Press, etc were hugely influential in getting the word out there on new music. But is that the case anymore? The high cost of paper and ever shrinking print advertising budgets have forced many to close down (R.I.P., Paste!) or shrink (Rolling Stone, Paste, et all) down to the size of a tourist packet.
When I was younger I can remember pouring over the latest imported issues of the New Musical Express and Melody Maker to find out the latest scoop on the newest bands and albums. Rolling Stone ceased to be of any relevance once the 70’s ended, like many of the bands they once championed. But those British mags seemed to thrive in the 80’s and 90’s, keeping up with current music trends better than the rest. This was good and bad. Their enthusiasm was infectious and I purchased many a turd based on their recommendations. But I also bought many a gem as well, like Blur’s Parkllife, Suede’s first album, Screamadelica by Primal Scream, The Boo Radleys, The Happy Mondays, etc. The list goes on and on and on. I wouldn’t have discovered these bands if it hadn’t have been for those little music broadsheets from the U.K.
The in-depth band bios and stories of their exploits didn’t interest me all that much; it was the reviews section in the back that got my juices flowing, and it’s been that way for me ever since. It’s where I went right off the bat, and where I spent the majority of my precious reading time.
Then came the web and with it the death knell for many a magazine, with Allmusic.com being the Grim Reaper (“There’s a Mr. Death at the door and he says he’s come about “the reaping”?). With their search capabilities at my fingertips it became much easier to find pertinent information. On allmusic.com you could find similar bands to your faves, search genres for top albums, read the editor’s choices and peruse the new releases. The reviews, like those from the magazines, rated the albums and gave you a cut by cut synopsis. Unlike the music magazines they also had sections where you could look up the singles, compilations and “other”, which is usually DVD’s and other such related merchandise.
And then of course there were the bloggers. A community of like-minded music fanatics who you got to know via their postings and comments and who you ended up trusting for new tune recommendations. These bloggers were real people, not some jaded curmudgeon with a deadline and an agenda!
And $11.00 for a magazine? Sorry, no way, bye-bye. Oh, I’ll still buy one from time to time, but that is now a rare occurrence. So rare in fact that I cannot recall the last time I shelled out for one.
Time marches on, I suppose…