Making music magazines

by Steve Watson in July 2012
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I’ve been thinking quite a bit about music magazines recently. When Sean from Drowned in Sound held his ‘Why hasn’t the internet killed music magazines’ discussion at Stack in the Box the other week, the conversation swung around to asking why there isn’t a dominant independent music magazine in Britain at the moment. Little White Lies was held up as an example of what’s possible – if they could start a film magazine on pretty much zero budget with zero access, why couldn’t a magazine do the same for music?

Then this weekend I was reading Juke and I thought I caught a glimpse of an answer. Their current issue opens with a story on Odd Future, the LA collective led by Tyler the Creator. I’d kind of heard a bit about them before, but the story, written by photographer Brook Bobbins, dumped me right in at the deep end with a first-person account of how he encountered them at their first show and has been with them since.

It’s immediate and urgent. It doesn’t attempt to be music journalism as such, and there’s the sneaking suspicion that Bobbins is leaving some bits out while he goes warts and all on others. The design follows suit, with a fractured, smashed up, rough and ready aesthetic that obscures as much as it reveals (the spreads shown here are typical of much of the magazine).

In other places Juke lost me, so I’m not holding it up as the saviour of independent music magazines (it’s worth noting that this issue has been around since last summer but the new issue is out soon so I’ll be keeping an eye out for that).

But there’s something about this one article that left me wanting more. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s exciting and interesting and well designed, and probably something else as well. If a magazine could put together a whole package with that sort of appeal we’d be looking at something pretty special.

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