Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Case Against Spin Magazine

Spin.  A magazine that used to be fairly relevant but now its only claim to fame is that it isn't Rolling Stone.  I know its editors and publisher thinks it is still at the cutting edge of music journalism, but when you are covering an art form that is so stagnant that it makes the CBS network look absolutely visionary, you can't help but take on some of that stagnation.  Again, it isn't as bad as Rolling Stone, but is that really what you want people to be able to say about your magazine?

I get it sent to me for whatever reason.  I assume because I'm somehow associated with the industry.  I get a lot of magazines and whatnot that come my way, along with products and offers to cover festivals and whatnot.  I read it when it gets here.  Lately, though, I find myself reading less and less of it.  It seems that every issue has less relevance to my life.  The Next Big Things?  Artists to watch for?  The best music to download and why?  As if the reader has no mind of his or her own.

If Spin were my magazine, I'd set a new plan into motion.  I'd do what magazines can do best (offer detailed articles on various things for readers, instead of bite-size pieces that are best suited for the web).  I'd also say, "Let's stop telling people what they should like.  Let's tell people what we like and hope the enthusiasm catches."  If writers want to focus on new music (and many do), that would be great.  The pieces would have to long, however.  Not just a snapshot of who the musician is, what he or she sounds like, a some "fascinating" tidbit of why you should like him or her ("He once played naked in Wicker Park.").  It would have to be an article worth reading.  An article that gives the reader a strong sense of why you really like the artist.  Far too many of these Next Big Things are covered once in the magazine and then drop off the planet.  If someone wanted to do a piece on, say, the Meat Shits, they would be welcome to do that, too, but it would have to offer something more than the usual web write-up.  Track down the members.  Get the life stories.  Review all the releases.  Something new.  Something unusual.  Turn Spin into a magazine for people who appreciate music as art and not product.  At this level it is tied with Rolling Stone because both magazines have those occasional articles that do just that, but that seems more like a fluke than anything else.

It's not my magazine, though.  I'm just a guy who started reading it when it first appeared.  When it included a condom with an issue once and took some heat for it.  When it wrote about GG Allin and Bon Jovi.  When it mattered.  Or maybe it's always been that way, but the music was better then.  I have no idea.  All I know is that if you are relying on a magazine to tell you what is hot and new, you are woefully behind the times.

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