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Monday, August 11, 2008

Rolling Stone Gathers Some Loss

posted by on August 11 at 17:50 PM

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I haven’t read the mag much in, um, decades, but this news about Rolling Stone
becoming smaller in size starting with its Oct. 30 issue strikes me as sad—and almost too literally symbolic of the grim state of (music) journalism today.

The New York Times quotes RS founder Jann Wenner, usually nostalgia’s staunchest champion, as saying: “All you’re getting from that large size is nostalgia.” (Insert sexual innuendo here.)

RSS icon Comments

1

quite saddened by this as well for reasons unknown or inexplicable. it just feeeeeels wrong.

Posted by jay | August 11, 2008 6:04 PM
2

The last issue had the Jonas Bro's on the cover...it was a sign of the apocalypse in one form or another.

Posted by T$ | August 11, 2008 7:43 PM
3

Wenner is a douche

Posted by who cares | August 11, 2008 8:04 PM
4

I used to read RS religiously cover to cover in the late seventies and early eighties. It really was one of the best sources of info on new music back then.

Posted by rk | August 11, 2008 8:45 PM
5

Matt Taibbi is reason alone to still read it.

Posted by Jeff | August 11, 2008 8:52 PM
6

Welcome back David Segal! Shit a mile! RS is a dead horse and we should all mourn it's triumphant ride. I'm saving old copies of Rolling-S for the grandkids. Someday they will know...

Posted by KELLY O | August 11, 2008 11:05 PM
7

Christ, is Jann Wenner ever a douchebag. Well, it's not like this is a surprise anyway; the music "industry" is as dead as magazine publishing.

Posted by laterite | August 11, 2008 11:57 PM
8

Rolling Stone would be best off if they didn't cover music anymore. Their political articles are often great and underrated.

Posted by mackro mackro | August 12, 2008 9:04 AM
9

Having a magazine that large is a pain in the ass. I'd call this good news, but has Rolling Stone been relevant even once in the past few years?

Posted by Nick | August 12, 2008 9:24 AM
10

Dontcha think this is more a sign of the times with print journalism rather than an indictment on Rolling Stone, which has sucked for decades? The Stranger and a whole lot of other magazines and newspapers seem thinner lately as well. Let's face it, most people today get their music and band info via the Web. Whether it's Pitchfork, Punknews, MySpace or ten zillion other blogs and resources. Why wait around for it to show up in print. Personally, part of my whole reducing my carbon footprint deal has been to cancel all my magazine subscriptions. I get way more and better info via the Web, especially for music, where you can see higher res and more photos, download songs and judge for yourself if you like the music or not, and if you do, Google the band and delve into interviews, their MySpace page, their Wikipedia entry, then download their complete discography off a torrent site.

Posted by dan10things | August 12, 2008 9:46 AM
11

let's face it? damn, thanks for the reality check, captain future. facing it.

Posted by ndrwmtsn | August 12, 2008 10:26 AM
12

Doesn't feel so good to have your mind blown, does it, Matson?

Posted by Eric Grandy | August 12, 2008 11:18 AM
13

download their complete discography off a torrent site.
download their complete discography off a torrent site.
download their complete discography off a torrent site.
download their complete discography off a torrent site.
download their complete discography off a torrent site.
download their complete discography off a torrent site.
download their complete discography off a torrent site.

R.I.P., music industry.

Posted by segal | August 12, 2008 1:21 PM
14

"R.I.P., music industry"

Poor music industry! Poor Mr. Suit! If it were only that easy to topple the major labels it would have happened long ago and maybe there would have been no Mylie Cyrus and Jonas Brothers. The only thing that's dying is their CDs sales and that's because the medium is dying. The RIAA's most recent stats show both vinyl and DVD sales increased dramatically in 2007. I'm sure the couple mega-media corporations that own the major labels will find a way to adapt to the digital music world.

Posted by dan10things | August 12, 2008 1:55 PM
15

@ 14
I include indie labels and record shops in the category of "music industry." Many of the proverbial little guys—maybe even some of your friends—are getting shafted by people downloading complete discographies.

Posted by segal | August 12, 2008 3:29 PM
16

"Poor music industry" = "Poor Mr. Suit"?

Tell that to Dischord. I'm sure Ian wears pin-stripe sport-coats to the label meetings. Or Numero Group. Etc.

Eddy and Hermes and Matos and others are still getting smaller label artists and worthy records reported on in RS, against the odds. And RS does indeed have some great political articles, as someone mentioned above. This is one of those cases where people are like, "Our economy doesn't need to be that strong" but if you work with low income people you notice they stop going to the doctor and become too sick to work and the economy gets even shittier. I read a dozen great pieces on the government and the music business and a worthwhile record in RS at my doctor's office this past year; and hundreds of boring, under-investigated, noodling articles in punk rock zines and websites in the same time period. (No offense to you, Dan -- your work has always kicked major ass.)


Posted by Chris Estey | August 12, 2008 5:48 PM
17

David, I don't include indies in "the music industry," I meant specifically shitty corporate labels, their shitty bands, and the megacorporations that buy up places like the Showbox. I won't cry for them. Rumor is the big torrent sites mostly have shitty corporate movies and music, not cool indie stuff. I'm not pro-downloading either, I'm just sayin' it's a reality. Kids don't buy CDs, just like they don't read Rolling Stone. Either the 4-5 corporations that own 90% of the US media adapt to the eventual end of CDs and print magazines or they don't. Indie musicians will still make music, and if they make money, they will do it more from live shows and selling tshirts on tour than from CDs sales, which is usually the case anyway.

Chris, Mr. Suit is a fairly well-known Wire song, look up the lyrics. It could very well be Ian's motto, it's pretty much a fuck you to the corporate world (and I can only assume major labels), not a comment about fashion.

Posted by dan10things | August 12, 2008 8:31 PM
18

dan, i'm confused. so you're in favor of downloading from torrent sites because it's stickin' it to the man, yet it always seemed that 10 Things was strictly about punk rock. So you're advocating punk music AND downloading? are you only downloading Jonas Brothers and Hinder albums?

the greatest misconception in the current music world is that downloading somehow simultaneously fucks over the greedy corporate types and champions the cool independent folks. it can't work both ways. if anything, downloading an indie album is even worse, because that artist probably gets a fair share of the royalties and could probably use the financial support. buy records from bands on tour, kids. gas is expensive.

i certainly won't cry over the thinning of the music herd. there's a lot of crap out there, and a lot of people that are in the music biz because of money and not because of a creative spirit. but it seems to me that the answer lies in simply not buying or paying attention to corporate music. downloading and dumping all your money into computer junk so that you can scam your punk records for free isn't going to do much except discourage more people from forming financially-disadvantaged punk bands.

Posted by brian cook | August 14, 2008 2:08 AM
19

I clearly said, "I'm not pro-downloading either, I'm just sayin' it's a reality. Kids don't buy CDs, just like they don't read Rolling Stone." Acknowledging it doesn't mean I'm in favor of it, I'm old school, I still buy and play vinyl.

You're crazy if you think kids won't form bands because they are worried about album sales. If you took drugs and girls out of the picture, sure, but kids don't form bands thinking about cash (accept maybe will they have to work more hours to buy equipment and rent a practice space). Profits from album sales come way later and for only .01% of bands. If they are in it for the money, yes, I sure as hell hope they are discouraged and stay away.

Isn't it possible to think about what's going on as actually helpful to the indie bands of tomorrow? Indie bands beat the majors to selling their songs online, internet album releases, electronic press packs, music blogs and band websites. There are whole communities of DJs, hip hop artists and electronica musicians releasing their tracks through blogs and torrent sites, encouraging and pushing each other. Indie musicians have their fingers more on the pulse of technology than the suits in part because they are the people working IT, building the websites, writing the code, developing (and hacking) the software and hardware. They are more nimble and rather than whining about downloading music, many are adapting and using their brains and the technology at their fingertips to keep pushing things further. Look at it this way, it's easier for a new artist to record and distribute music than ever before, that alone should make you optimistic about the future of independent music.

Posted by dan10things | August 14, 2008 9:54 AM
20

@19.
i know a lot of people (perhaps even most) have your back on this one, dan. i simply don't agree with it. even if you take royalties out of the equation, most bands on tour survive off of merch sales. take all recorded material out of the picture and that cuts away a lot of musicians' tour income. with gas costing what it does these days ($120 to fill a van's gas tank and typically about 10 miles to the gallon), we're going to see a lot fewer smaller bands go out on tour. they just can't afford it. you're right, a lot of punk bands don't get royalty checks, and that's mainly because they get a chunk of the pressings instead and fill their fuel tanks with the $100 or so they make a night off of cd and vinyl sales. i really have no idea how a new band can afford to embark on a u.s. tour at this point. they stand to lose thousands upon thousands of dollars. they might not be "in it for the money", but they certainly won't be able to sustain their art.

and does the computer age really level the playing field? in some regards, but i guess i didn't really see a problem with punk and indie bands getting their name out in the age of zines and distros. now we're so bombarded by every fucking dude with a solo bedroom project that it seems like a lot of bands get lost in the endless sea of new acts. it is indeed easier to get your name out, but more difficult to stand out from the crowd. and let's not forget that all this new technology still depends on buying expensive corporate computer products. we may topple Warner Bros and Columbia, but we're making Apple and Microsoft richer by the day.

i don't mean to sound like an old man, but i'm not so excited about this new era.

Posted by brian cook | August 14, 2008 2:31 PM

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