FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 19, 2008
Contact: Traci Thomas 615-664-1167
NO DEPRESSION MAGAZINE
TO CEASE PUBLISHING
AFTER MAY-JUNE ISSUE
SEATTLE, WA - No Depression, the bimonthly magazine covering
a broad range of American roots music since 1995, will bring to an end
its print publication with its 75th issue in May-June 2008.
Plans to expand the publication's website (www.nodepression.net)
with additional content will move forward, though it will in no way
replace the print edition.
The magazine's March-April issue, currently en route to subscribers
and stores, includes the following note from publishers Grant Alden,
Peter Blackstock and Kyla Fairchild as its Page 2 "Hello Stranger"
Barring the intercession of unknown angels, you hold in your hands
the next-to-the-last edition of No Depression we will publish. It is
difficult even to type those words, so please know that we have not
come lightly to this decision.
In the thirteen years since we began plotting and publishing No
Depression, we have taken pride not only in the quality of the work
we were able to offer our readers, but in the way we insisted upon
doing business. We have never inflated our numbers; we have always
paid our bills (and, especially, our freelancers) on time. And we have
always tried our best to tell the truth.
First things, then: If you have a subscription to ND,
please know that we will do our very best to take care of you. We will
be negotiating with a handful of magazines who may be interested in
fulfilling your subscription. That is the best we can do under the
Those 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.
The longer answer involves not simply the well-documented and
industry wide reduction in print advertising, but the precipitous fall
of the music industry. As a niche publication, ND is well insulated
from reductions in, say, GM's print advertising budget; our size meant
they weren't going to buy space in our pages, regardless.
On the other hand, 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
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. It seems clear at
this point that whatever businesses evolve to replace (or transform)
record labels will have much less need to advertise in print.
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 . . .
The cumulative toll of those forces makes it increasingly difficult
for all small magazines to survive. Whatever the potentials of the
web, it cannot be good for our democracy to see independent voices
further marginalized. But that's what's happening. The big money on
the web is being made, not surprisingly, primarily by big
ND has never been a big business. It was started with a
$2,000 loan from Peter's savings account (the only monetary investment
ever provided, or sought by, the magazine). We have five more or less
full-time employees, including we three who own the magazine. We have
always worked from spare bedrooms and drawn what seemed modest
What makes this especially painful and particularly frustrating is
that our readership has not significantly declined, our newsstand
sell-through remains among the best in our portion of the industry,
and our passion for and pleasure in the music has in no way
diminished. We still have shelves full of first-rate music we'd love
to tell you about.
And we have taken great pride in being one of the last bastions of
the long-form article, despite the received wisdom throughout
publishing that shorter is better. We were particularly gratified to
be nominated for our third Utne award last year.
Our cards are now on the table.
Though we will do this at greater length next issue, we should like
particularly to thank the advertisers who have stuck with us these
many years; the writers, illustrators, and photographers who have
worked for far less than they're worth; and our readers: You.
Thank you all. It has been our great joy to serve you.
No Depression published its first issue in September 1995
(with Son Volt on the cover) and continued quarterly for its first
year, switching to bimonthly in September 1996. ND received an
Utne Magazine Award for Arts & Literature Coverage in 2001 and has
been nominated for the award on several other occasions (including in
2007). The Chicago Tribune ranked No Depression #20 in its 2004
list of the nation's Top 50 magazines of any kind.
Artists who have appeared on the cover of No Depression over
the years include Johnny Cash (2002), Wilco (1996), Willie Nelson
(2004), Ryan Adams' seminal band Whiskeytown (1997), the Drive-By
Truckers (2003), Ralph Stanley (1998), Elvis Costello & Allen
Toussaint (2006), Gillian Welch (2001), Lyle Lovett (2003), Porter
Wagoner (2007), and Alejandro Escovedo (1998, as Artist of the
Grant Alden, Grant@nodepression.net, 606-776-2383
Peter Blackstock, Peter@nodepression.net, 360-471-1295
Kyla Fairchild, Kyla@nodepression.net, 206-789-5807
Traci Thomas / Thirty Tigers
1604 8th Ave. South 2nd Floor
Nashville, TN 37203
Essentially the same circumstances resulted in the demise in print
form of Mississippi Rag, the long-running mag covering traditional
jazz, and with increases in US postage probably threatens publications
I've worked for such as Rhythm (formerly RhythmMusic) and
SignalToNoise (though that one's currently in expansionist mode -- how
does publisher/editor Pete Gershon do it?). Other periodicals covering
"marginal music" (American roots, world music, jazz and classical are
marginal, not fundamental?) must be at risk, too. Will readers migrate
to the websites or issues put out in pdf form? And most important to
writers and photographers: Will online-only publications pay
contributors as the print versions did? Robert Christgau is right that
grants and funders are not known in this realm. Does the NAJP have
ideas about addressing the problem, or are arts journalists just going
to watch this happen, helplessly? If we're to go with the flow, at
least let's build platforms that allow professionalism on the web to
assert itself as worthy of and able to attract financial support.
Along with with all No Depression subscribers, I was as they say
"Poleaxed" by the awful news. I am grateful for transfering my
subscription to "Maverick" it'ok particularly for the comprehensive
lists of Artists and Venues.