The death of print is nigh, and no current music publication reflects the paperless future of journalism more dramatically than Spin. The long-running bimonthly music magazine was just bought by online music company Buzzmedia, whose websites (like Stereogum) helped irrevocably change the way we read and think about music in the digital era. Now, it seems like they’re helping Spin phase out its print edition in favor of a blog-based approach. The magazine has announced that it will be canceling its November/December issue entirely.
Because there’s no way to stream a song from paper, print might be dying in music journalism more rapidly than in any other niche media. Services that allow embedded media streams, like Soundcloud, YouTube, and Bandcamp, have done as much to kill the music magazine as any tablet computer or mobile operating system. The Spin brand still means plenty to any music fan who remembers picking up mags from their local Borders back in the day, but it seems unlikely that a bimonthly print subscription will mean much to music fans who have access to a wealth of quality, constantly-updated music journalism across the web every day.
Of course, no print edition means a diminished need for editors and designers, so Spin has also announced a heap of layoffs to accompany their shift into the digital sphere. Buzzmedia’s cutting the publication down and tuning it up, hoping to secure a firmer hold on the online public. The question remains how they’ll differentiate their new acquisition from fellow properties like Stereogum that serve the same interest group. How do you take an established publication and reinvent it in a way that preserves its historical brand while still appealing to blog readers? Buzzmedia’s got some interesting problems ahead of them.