The future of influential music publication SPIN magazine has been thrown into turmoil after a third of its staff were laid off late last week, further adding to fears that the bimonthly format will be suspended.
According to The New York Times, the news comes just two weeks after the music magazine was bought for a song by Buzzfeed, an internet aggregator of music and celebrity news and websites, in a bid to expand its online reach but calls into question its future as a print publication. Though not financial figures were not disclosed, according to one publisher, Buzzfeed picked up both SPIN’s online website and its 27-year-old print magazine for the embarrassingly low sum of less than $US 5 million.
A statement this last weekend from the magazine’s new owners, Buzzmedia, there are no plans to publish the forthcoming November/December issue due to the company ‘figuring out’ what form a print edition of SPIN may take given the magazine’s expansion online.
“Buzzmedia and Spin are committed to moving forward with print,” reads the statement, “but we are still determining exactly how print fits in with Spin’s multiple distribution points and growth initiatives.”
The statement follows the dismissal of eleven employees, most – like editor in chief Steven Kandell and manging editor Catherine Davis – tied to the print edition of the magazine, dismissed amongst a third of the original thirty-six employees who were laid off; casting further dispersions that the printed form of SPIN could disappear altogether.
Buzzmedia attempted to reassure doubters by responding that, “in the coming year, we will build upon this core staff by doubling the editorial team.”
Buzzmedia, whose primary public face is Buzzmedia, built its strong financial foothold by owning and selling advertising to popular music blogs like Stereogum, Idolator and The Hype Machine, and also manages sites for celebrities – like Kim Kardashian.
At the time of purchase, in mid-July, Buzzmedia Chief Exectuive Tyler Goldman said they wanted to expand upon SPIN‘s digital presence. “SPIN to us is more than a print magazine,” said Goldman at the time. “It’s a great media company for storytelling around music and music culture. People are using multiple platforms to consume more content and context from the brands they believe in, and we see the ability forSPIN to bring more storytelling to digital platforms.”
Like most print media, the alternative music magazine – originally founded in 1985 – has been struggling to keep up with online competitors like Pitchfork and Stereogum – and a drastic fall in their primary income: advertising.
In attempt to beef up its website and online presence, SPIN introduced an iOS app while in March, it shifted its print edition from monthly to bi-monthly publication, in a bid to steady its circulation.
It’s an eerily familiar story here in Australia, where music street press has suffered losses too. As covered in our recent opinion piece, the first victim was the sudden closure of Brisbane street press Rave and the disappearance of Tasmania’s Sauce magazine.
While Scene magazine publisher Howard Duggan was far from surprised at its demise, assuring readers that they can expect more street presses to fold.
While news of the potential death of print media was so grim, that it prompted the managing director of Street Press Australia, Craig Treweek into publishing a lengthy statement entitled ‘Rumours Of Our Death Are Grossly Exaggerated;’ a six point dissertation that essentially shouted ‘we’re not going anywhere.’
While a question mark hovers over the future of music print media, we wonder if it’s a case of an evolutionary survival of the fittest, as more and more music media moves online.