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Slate has an interesting piece running about the death of music magazines. Writer Jonah Weiner points to the folding of Vibe and Blender, lay-offs at Spin, and staff cuts at Rolling Stone. He further notes te notes the challenges faced in covering music in long-lead-time media, combined with the competition from instant access opinion and comment we now how online.
The problem for music mags, too, is the biting-the-hand-that-feeds-you problem faced in much entertainment journalism. Upset a source and its very easy to withhold access.
Time, too, is a big issue. The best Rolling Stone pieces from yesteryear came from lengthy time spent with subjects. In my feature writing experience (mostly for city monthlies), the best, most telling material came from spending time with subjects, not from half-hour phone interviews supervised by publicists. But the latter is increasingly common as artists make greater effort to control information about them.
So is there still a place for music magazines? In his essay, Weiner asks: “…should we mourn dead music magazines or simply shrug as we pass the funeral?” I ask you the same question.