After web publishing conglomerate BuzzMedia bought Spin in July of last year, they promised that although they had no physical publication to their name, they were dedicated to the magazine’s legacy, and that, in some to-be-determined form, they would continue to put out a print edition of the magazine. That proved false, as this past December Spin subscribers received a letter in the mail notifying them the remainder of their subscriptions would be filled with issues of Car and Driver. A smart man once said to me that radio didn’t disappear with the advent of television, and I believe the same will continue to be true with print and digital, but to the small universe that is music media, losing Spin was a big blow.
I recently found a music magazine I’d made in sixth grade English class. It was called Rolling Boulder, and it featured then-president Bill Clinton on the cover, endorsing its contents. Inside, I’d written articles about Woodstock ’94, the prevalence of musicians who die at 27, a Nirvana quiz and created an imagined interview with Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols. It’s a pretty hilarious document to look at now, 18 years later, and I see that many of my tastes and editorial inclinations have not changed. In my editor’s letter, I listed all the features of the magazine, which I often do at the end of these notes in each issue of FADER. I’ve drawn a stick figure self portrait, which is the at the level of artistic skill I still maintain, and I included a photo of myself wearing a T-shirt of a saxophone-playing cartoon man that I’d kill to have today. That’s why the loss of Spin hit me so hard: who would I be without magazines?
In my life, Punk Planet, Flipside, Maximumrocknroll, HeartattaCk, Spin and Rolling Stone, along with an endless amount of smaller fanzines, shaped my understanding of who I am through what I like. In 1995, Spin published an encyclopedia of sorts called Alternative Record Guide that I used to help me buy records for the next 10 years. I still have it; it’s beat to shit.
It may be self-serving and precious to romanticize print—magazines are great, but so are e-readers, YouTube and podcasts. Learning about stuff is what I love; the medium is less important. Still, it’s a bummer when a music magazine goes away. As one of the last few standing, we know we have a responsibility to tell good stories, and we take very seriously the privilege it is to tell them.