Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Vibe Mag Folding, Outlets for Music Journalists Slipping Away

Vibe magazine, aptly described by Wikipedia as "the black version of Rolling Stone," is folding, according to a report at Gawker.com.

While the mag was far too hip-hop oriented for my personal tastes, and I only perused it a few times over the years, I'm glad Vibe was out there, spreading the word on a wide variety of black popular music.

This folding comes on the heels of the temporary -- or permanent? nobody's saying -- dissolution of Jazz Times. In addition, Jazziz (born in Gainesville, and based in South Florida) is now published only four times a year.

Not long ago, Blender, Performing Songwriter and Radio and Records announced that they were going away.

And the biggest recent blow to music journalism? Last year's closing of the print edition of No Depression magazine, the bible of Americana and altcountry, a publication that also covered a wide variety of roots music, including folk, traditional country, roots rock, blues, jazz and even world music. No Depression is still a going concern online, and recently announced plans to make its very valuable archives available. But the new content, so far, is less than robust, as the organization no longer is paying for contributions from professional writers. (Here's hoping that ND will soon be fully revived online - the music world needs it).

Fewer serious, professionally written and edited sources for music coverage, of any kind? That's a bummer, to say the least, for music fans, music journalists, and the artists, record companies, managers and other music-business types who benefited from the kind of national and international coverage that widely distributed mags give to musicians.

And about the options for making a living via blogging? Forget it, unless you're already a celebrity.

On Facebook a fellow former full-time pop music critic lamented the decreasing prospects for music journalists.

My response is below:

"There will always be a need for good arts/entertainment journalists, somewhere, somehow, and those fortunate enough to hook up with big media organizations will do okay with salaries.

But the prospects for actually making a living as a full-time music journalist -- or as an arts/entertainment reporter/critic of any type -- are growing slimmer by the day. Mags and papers are folding, newspapers are trading in staff people for wire services.

Yeah, I know, everybody knows this and it's a bummer, but better to accept the reality, cut one's losses and move on than to hope the reality will change - the latter was my situation for probably too long. I still find fulfillment in doing arts/ent writing "on the side."

Just my two cents. I'm sure some others out there are more optimistic about all of this."

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