Internet Music 'Zines Propagating
Michael Goldberg would like nothing more than for you to never get another paper cut from the pages of a music magazine. In fact, the savvy West Coast entrepreneur and former Rolling Stone scribe would prefer that you never flipped through a conventional music publication ever again.As editor, publisher and founder of the Internet-only music magazine Addicted To Noise -- ATN -- Goldberg has made it his business to avoid the pulp-and-paper industry altogether.Online since December of 1994 and averaging 400,000 visits per month, ATN balances a slate of daily music news with a monthly issue packed with interviews and reviews -- supplemented by audio and video clips -- and has been quick in becoming the big-budget watermark in the expanding sea of online music 'zines.While countless "real" magazines and newspapers flip their regular content onto a Web site, it's the increasing number of publications that exist strictly within the ether of the Internet that are taking full advantage of the technology.With Web pages relatively inexpensive to set up and maintain, online music magazines are (at the risk of sounding like an article in Wired) threatening to become the fanzines of the late 1990s. Those having their say to a worldwide audience include everything from low-tech equivalents of photocopied, poorly stapled fanzines to ad-packed, big-business heavyweights like ATN."From the start, the idea was that this would be the place to get news and information concerning rock and roll and pop culture," Goldberg boasts from ATN's San Francisco offices. "It's the first rock and roll magazine made specifically for the Net, and it's been very successful, both in terms of music fans coming to the site and media from around the world using our information on radio stations, newspapers and MTV."Corporate meddlingWith ATN's success as a sort of Rolling Stone of e-'zines have come the expected cries of corporate meddling -- loudest from those who question the relationship between advertisers and the bands covered. Goldberg stands by the integrity of his magazine but admits that he has been on the hunt for backing from a corporation with a significantly larger wallet than his own."That criticism is uninformed and could only come from someone who doesn't read the magazine daily," snorts Goldberg. "We cover a larger variety of bands than any type of media that has ever existed. We include everything from the Pleasure Fuckers, DJ Shadow and the Make-Up to the Offspring cover story that goes online February 1."Most of our ads come from Levis and AT&T. Some guy in a suit isn't going to tell me what to write about."Still, like their paper-packing kin, the Web pages of Addicted To Noise still manage to overlook huge swaths of the music underground, giving rise to the host of lower-budget online 'zines. Search the Net and between the endless Star Trek and X-Files pages are a few gems like the superb, London-based publication Silencer.Oddball questionsStructured like an online version of The Wire but without mistaking the groups it covers for sacred ground, Silencer deals with musicians on the edge of the rock frontier. The current issue offers in-depth interviews with the Dirty Three, Tortoise and Ui as well as record reviews and think pieces.The Belgian Web 'zine Ultra takes a markedly less serious approach to similar music. Rather than the usual question-and-answer sessions, members of Stereolab and Pavement, and studio curmudgeon Steve Albini are subjected to alphabetical interviews, where the victim comments on a word beginning with a chosen letter -- A for analogue, B for breakbeat, C for Combustible Edison.For folks with more diverse tastes, there are a few notable options.The UK's Fly magazine deals almost exclusively in electronica and the rise of DJ culture. For jazz fans, Gallery 41 offers photos and interviews with thrill-seeking jazz musicians like Don Cherry, Sonny Simmons, Sun Ra and Vijay Iyer. Plugged-in hiphop fans can get their fix of news and gossip on the Headz-Up site.With the price of admission little more than the cost of dialing up and a potential worldwide audience reaching into the millions, online music magazine publishers have been quick to realize that they've got a good thing going here. It's a fact that hasn't gone unnoticed by ATN's Goldberg."The odds are really in our favour here," Goldberg laughs. "Everything we've ever done is online, so if you want to see everything we've written on Beck, you just type it in. You'd have to have a closetful of Spin Magazines -- and then find a few years to read through the stuff."