If you remember liking music magazines growing up, but can’t remember the last time that you subscribed to one or nabbed one off the racks, you might enjoy reading Jonah Weiner’s article in Slate: Spinning in the Grave, The three biggest reasons music magazines are dying.
Unfortunately, the days when Cameron Crowe could spend months reporting a story from Led Zeppelin’s tour bus are long gone. Tabloids have helped make stars wary, if not scornful, of journalists of all stripes, print doesn’t fill artists’ coffers (many high-powered publicists have repeated the mantra to me that press doesn’t sell albums), and so artists big and medium give music magazines less of themselves than ever. Yes, a music-magazine cover can contribute to credibility and prestige, but the best access is often reserved for a title beyond the music ghetto, like Vanity Fair, GQ, or, should it come calling, The New Yorker. When I profiled BeyoncÃ© for a 2006 Blender cover story, I was granted one hour to interview her and one hour to observe her at a video shoot. I stayed on the set for three hours, hoping to wring some lively detail from the mundane proceedings, until a bodyguard showed me the door. BeyoncÃ©’s mother, Tina, gave me a warm goodbye, then called a publicist to chew her out for letting me hang around so long and accused me of “going through BeyoncÃ©’s underwear.” (I’d quizzed a seamstress about a pair of hot pants she was mending.) The writing that arises from situations like these invariably suffers, and readers notice.
This, and plenty more reasons why writers like myself are pretty much unemployed.