February 20th, 2008
07:59 PM ET

No Depression sadness

Magazines have faced difficult times in recent years, from the splintering of audiences to the costs of postage and newsprint. To the towering stack of defunct print publications, it’s time to add another: No Depression.

The music magazine, which focused on alt-country and roots rock, never had a huge circulation- – according to its Web site, recent print runs have been from 30,000 to 34,000 copies - but its influence has been profound. The magazine gave valuable coverage to such artists as Wilco, Whiskeytown (and its leader, Ryan Adams) and Gillian Welch, while giving readers thoughtful (and deep) coverage of music. An average issue might contain a profile of Tift Merritt, reviews of the Sadies, Jim Lauderdale and Stella, as well as short takes on regional artists and essays on Muscle Shoals. It was a music magazine for people who take music seriously - but in a friendly, isn’t-this-interesting? way.

But no more, at least in print form. (It will continue as a Web site.) And its publishing demise, notes publishers Grant Alden, Peter Blackstock and Kyla Fairchild, says something about the struggles of the music industry (along with the decline of print, the splintering of audiences and the economy in general):

“… [B]ecause we’re a niche title we are dependent upon advertisers who have a specific reason to reach our audience. That is: record labels,” they write. “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. 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.”

So let’s take a moment to pause in tribute to 75 issues and 13 great years - and in hopes that the Web site can carry the name forward for many years to come.

Transition, indeed.

- From CNN.com Entertainment Producer Todd Leopold


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