Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Depressing News: No Depression To Cease Publication

by Wayne Robins

It is a sad day for music and for magazines, and a terrible day for those who love well-written music magazines: After 13 years, No Depression is going out of business. What should have been a celebratory gala 75th issue, the May-June 2008 issue, will be its last.

No Depression, for the uninitiated, originally used the slogan "alt-country . . . whatever that is." (It took its name from the title of Uncle Tupelo's debut album.) It cast its net wider than that, but it remained essential for anyone interested in the American indies roots music scene.

The news is already up on the
No Depression Web site.

In a letter on the page 2 "Hello Stranger" column of the March-April 2008, which will hit mailboxes and stores any day now, publishers Grant Alden and Peter Blackstock (the mag's co-founders) and Kyla Fairchild write, in part:

"The circumstances are both complicated and painfully simple. The simple answer is that advertising revenue in this issue is 64% of what it was for our March-April issue just two years ago. We expect that number to continue to decline...

"Because we’re a niche title we are dependent upon advertisers who have a specific reason to reach our audience. That is: record labels. We, like many of our friends and competitors, are dependent upon advertising from the community we serve...

"That community is, as they say, in transition. In this evolving downloadable world, what a record label is and does is all up to question. What is irrefutable is that their advertising budgets are drastically reduced, for reasons we well understand...

"The decline of brick and mortar music retail means we have fewer newsstands on which to sell our magazine, and small labels have fewer venues that might embrace and hand-sell their music. Ditto for independent bookstores. Paper manufacturers have consolidated and begun closing mills to cut production; we’ve been told to expect three price increases in 2008. Last year there was a shift in postal regulations, written by and for big publishers, which shifted costs down to smaller publishers whose economies of scale are unable to take advantage of advanced sorting techniques.

"Then there’s the economy…"

I reviewed CDs with some regularity for No Depression circa 2001-2003. In fact, when I took a hiatus from contributing, I really missed it, so I dropped Grant Alden a note. I wrote about it
four years ago (see archives: Jan. 4, 2004), describing it as "the only music magazine I know done with spunk, spirit, and style..."

These are hard times. Living without No Depression in this new depression will be that much harder.

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