The State of the Union: Music Journalism
Written by Reegan Saunders on January 31, 2020
The first thing that comes to mind when people think about music Journalism is the movie Almost Famous. A teenager who writes for “Creem Magazine”, but is now on assignment for “Rolling Stone Magazine” is tasked with running around California with the band Stillwater. The plot seems like a dream to some- the possiblities of an insider view on “sex,drugs and rock and roll”. And the movie makes anyone with even the slightest passion for writing believe that they, too, could succeed.
As much love as I have for “Rolling Stone Magazine”, I have as much, if not more, disdain toward it. I mourn the relic that was made on newsprint and contained photos Annie Leibovitz shot on polaroid. My love is reserved mostly for the version of Rolling Stone that Creem Magazine notoriously despised. However, I cannot truly love it because I was not alive to experience it, and it’s disheartening. Today’s “Rolling Stone Magazine” to me is the print version of Times Square. It’s bright, shiny and not as cool as you would expect. After careful consideration, I’ve decided that my least favorite part of 2000s “Rolling Stone” is the near impossibility to which it has become for artists from local scenes to be covered. Furthermore, there is no truly unique content, as most of their articles contain the same information I can read in almost any other publication.
In my opinion, the future of music journalism lies in independent zines. Small paperback folders composed of show reviews and photos from locals; zines that contain art and truly unique opinion pieces; online publications that promote your best friend’s upcoming concert at a venue no one outside of a 30 mile radius has ever heard of. What’s exciting about this avenue is that almost anyone can be a part of it– whether you are an artist, a musician, a photographer, a writer, there is something in it for you. Although there may not be a lot of money in it, there is there is the personal satisfaction that comes with leaving your mark on the world.
There are two other beacons of light that provide hope for the world of music journalism and provide a reason for why I am pursuing music journalism as a career: “Creem Magazine” and “Maggot Brain”.
My first experience with “Creem Magazine” was the documentary Boy Howdy!. Within the first five minutes I was wonderstruck. The film goes past the “glamorous” side the public knew and shows broke, broken writers and photographers who only wanted to talk about music– about the musicians they loved and the ones they wanted to rot. The only downfall to my love is that the documentary is not currently available anywhere, and therefore I cannot rewatch it a thousand times. All I wanted to do when I walked out of the theatre was to read. I wanted to read as many copies as my brain could handle. Much to my dismay, it would be expensive to acquire copies of my own; it costs as little as $5 per copy and as much as $500 for a set of 24 on eBay. Fortunately, when I arrived at Kent State, I discovered the world of microfilm and found myself reading “Creem Magazine” in the form of PDFs I downloaded onto my laptop. The thing about my adoration for “Creem Magazine” was that there was no hope for any new content, until I received a Creem newsletter earlier this week. They are releasing new issues! Future job potential?
If the possibility of a new Creem Magazine era wasn’t already enough, Third Man Records newest publishing edition is “Maggot Brain”- a quarterly magazine dedicated to all things music and art in Detroit and all across the world. The premiere issue includes concert posters, a feature on a local sign painter, tweets from John Brannon, a collection of photos from Mike Galinsky (You should know who he is! Look him up!) and so much more. And this all comes with the promise of never becoming an online publication. I admire how “Maggot Brain” is working to bring a lost art back to the forefront of society, and how I would love to be a contributor to this magazine. If anything, this article is me laying myself out to the world and asking for a job. Please give me one. And to my readers, please read these magazines. You won’t regret it.
Your resident far from all knowing music expert