‘Zine Scene

U is for Unusual: Stereolab members answered ‘Ultra’ zine’s alphabetical interview.

Online music mags on the rise

By Matt Galloway

MICHAEL GOLDBERG would like nothing more than for you to never get another paper cut from 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, Goldberg has made it his business to avoid the paper industry altogether. Online since December 1994 and averaging 400,000 visits per month, ATN balances a slate of daily music news with a monthly issue packed with interviews, reviews, and essays by journalism heavyweights Greil Marcus and Dave Marsh.

While countless “real” magazines and newspapers flip their regular content onto a Website, it’s the increasing number of publications that exist strictly within the Internet that are taking full advantage of the technology.

“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.

With ATN‘s success as a sort of Rolling Stone of e-‘zines have come the expected cries of corporate meddling. Goldberg stands by the integrity of his magazine.”That criticism is uninformed and could only come from someone who doesn’t read the magazine daily,” snorts Goldberg. “Some guy in a suit isn’t going to tell me what to write about.”

Like their pulp kin, the Web pages of Addicted to Noise still manage to overlook huge swaths of the music underground. Search the Net and between the endless Star Trek and X-Files pages are a few gems like the superb, London-based music publication Silencer.

Silencer covers sacred ground, dealing with musicians on the edge of the rock frontier. The current issue offers interviews with the Dirty Three and Ui, as well as numerous reviews and think pieces.

The Belgian Web ‘zine Ultra takes a markedly less serious approach to similar music. Rather than the usual Q & A, members of Stereolab 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.

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 avant-garde jazz musicians like Don Cherry, Sonny Simmons, and Vijay Iyer.

With the price of admission little more than the cost of dialing up a potential worldwide audience, publishers online have been quick to realize that they’ve got a good thing going here.

“Everything we’ve ever done is online,” laughs ATN’s Goldberg. “If you want to see everything we’ve written on Beck, you just type it in. [Without online], you’d have to have a closetful of Spin Magazines–and then find a few years to read through the stuff.”

From the March 13-19, 1997 issue of the Sonoma County Independent

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