The Fall of Print Zines

I don’t want to turn this space into a music news dump, but some things are worth mentioning.

You may have heard, Metal Maniacs is shutting down after its next issue. Blabbermouth has the story here.

As some of you probably know Marty has written for Metal Maniacs, off and on for years now. I don’t think I have looked at a copy since I found the underground, but if I remember correctly it was something in Metal Maniacs that led me to write a letters to Vio-Lence, Sadus and others to get their demos before they were signed.

Worm Gear was a print zine for 11 issues, a free one at that.  It was advertisers expecting a “you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours” approach that led us to stop… that and the obscene amount of work and money that went in to distributing 10,000 issues. We depended on advertisers to keep the zine free.  If they didn’t place ads, we couldn’t pay for the printing, and if we didn’t do what they wanted, they wouldn’t place ads. So we decided rather than compromise we’d go to the web and, theoretically anyway, save ourselves a lot of hassle. We still get people telling us here that they miss the print zine. One by one though, the print zines have gone away in favor if the web.

If the print zine is such a coveted format, what has led to its near eradication? Clearly cost is one thing, but if the reader support is there, there are was to make it work. Look at Maximum Rock N Roll. Is it that the new generation of fans didn’t have to go through the same trenches that spawned the zines, and thus didn’t know they existed? Is it advertisers choosing to ignore the underground as some forms of Metal have enjoyed a mainstream resurgence. The  instantaneous nature of the web? Some of all I suppose.

Curious to hear your thoughts on the face of music coverage, and web versus print and all of that….

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~ by scottsplatter on February 4, 2009.

8 Responses to “The Fall of Print Zines”

  1. I’m hearing scuttlebutt around that this may just be a hiatus for MM since I guess there are several interested buyers. But really, I haven’t heard any confirmation yet as to the status.

    But in all honesty, the closing of MM was a shock to me. I have read that mag since my teens. As Scott mentioned, I have written for them during the Wagner and Liz years. It has been a big part of my life and my metal journey over the years. A lot of fun and personal triumphs have been lived out through them. And to see people on message boards just kind of shrugging their shoulders about the death of this US upholder of underground metal is quite disheartening. I love the internet just as much as the next guy, but it is breeding an army of superficial people that are content with news snippets and free music. The written word is suffering in the wake of technology’s convenience and peoples instant gratification mentality. Would you rather read an in-depth review of something from a writer you trust, or 100 word or less snippet reviews on countless web based “zines”? Can you bring the Internet to bed with you to read the latest interview with Absu? No. I know this is a common reference, but what about those lengthy bathroom visits where Terrorizer was always good for a flip through? What will we do once metal publications go by the wayside in favor of your short attention span and failure to ever leave your house? Should the MM fatality be a true and longstanding thing, what’s left in the US for GOOD metal publications? Decibel? Yes…. a good mag indeed, but what happens when they also succumb to financial woes and peoples general disinterest with the print medium? It is coming folks! I’ve heard whispering on the winds that the coveted BW&BK is considering ending their print mag. Don’t quote me on that though. It is a scary domino effect that will have a lasting impact on the metal world here in the US. I think it’s sad. For all it’s good things and positive communication resources, and market place simplicity, the internet is quickly and quietly killing music. Wait and see….

    -Marty/Worm

  2. This revelation came a real shock to me, as I’ve been with MM for many years – the first issue I picked up was where Kerry King had just shaved his head and Slayer were giving a studio report on “Divine Intervention”. This is the one big rag where you can read about all sorts of gnarly black/death/doom/etc with honest reporting. The others seem to kowtow to the advertisers, so you never really know what an album truly might sound like. And as for the internet, I can’t even think of that many quality underground webzines that fit my tastes (other than WormGear, Voices from the Darkside, and Chronicles of Chaos). Even worse, it seems like this resurgence of bland and ‘safe’ Trivium/Shadows Fall/blablabla metal is eclipsing all the wicked evil metal. I hope Metal Maniacs reemerges, or at least something in that vein!

  3. I’ve been a MM reader since issue #1, which I purchased from a supermarket at the age of 15. Needless to say, the news hit me hard. Sitting in front of a computer is great for scanning the news or checking the weather, but it’s never appealed to me as a medium for discovering new music. MM will be greatly missed. I can only hope that the rumors are true and someone keeps its pages from drifting into oblivion.

  4. It looks like genre fiction magazines are being hit as well.

    http://theteemingbrain.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/economic-doom-indeed-fantasy-sf-and-horror-publishers-and-publications-scaling-back-and-shutting-down/

  5. […] “gateway” mediums for music, genre fiction, and film are either shutting down entirely, or reducing their productivity in an […]

  6. Understand the Internet’s role in the failure of the economy.

  7. It was nice for a while to see webzines go up and more people come out and start writing, but now, at this point, I’m kind of eager to go back to print zines again as the quality of writing is really suffering. It would be a terrible thing for the underground if all writing/journalism/whatever became concentrated in the hands of a few giant magazines.

  8. Well I know one thing thats a definite factor where I am in Canada is cost. You not only have to pay the actual magazine prioce which to start with it several dollars higher in Canada then the USA (you’ll see things like 5.95 US 7.95 Canada to start with) but on top of that you have to pay 2 yes thats right 2 taxes which add roughly 15 % to the cost of the magazine. If its the same elsewhetre as here in Ontario Canada then thats why (at least in part)print zines are dying out

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