A couple people have asked me about the comments from “STEPH” in the comment fields for the last few days. Rest assured, those are not from my wife. It’s not really her style to ask questions like “how old are you?” and accuse me of trying to sound intelligent (sorry, it’ll never happen again). The “Steph” leaving the comments was somebody from Wyoming, according to WordPress’s IP lookup. If my wife Steph has any questions, she usually asks them in person, since we live together and all.
So, in the space of two months, two magazines I subscribe to have gone belly up. Harp and No Depression, two music magazines that I relied on heavily at various points in the last ten years, ceased publishing recently for a variety of reasons that don’t need to be explored here. Let it be said that my appreciation for these mags can only be described as overwhelming for a) packing issues with very good writing and b) being such a rich source for new discoveries. Two of my recent favorites, Johnny Society and Kelley Stoltz, were both Harp discoveries. These days most of my discoveries are found online (Hype Machine, Last.FM, LargeHeartedBoy, etc) anyway, so I can’t say I’m terribly surprised by any of this. Just sad.
Harp appears to have stopped cold, but No Depression will soldier on via the web, although it remains to be seen how they’ll go about doing this. Knowing full-well that that group of music fans are a very tight knit community, my approach would be to try and create and expand a niche social network. An ILike or Last.FM, with focus on the genre. Back in 1994 when I signed on to AOL (yikes) and found a discussion board dedicated to Uncle Tupelo (are you KIDDING ME, I thought!) – I was floored. Not only was it my first true exposure to how incredible the internet was and how small the world would be getting, but it was amazing to discover and meet new friends over the next couple of years from around the country who had the same crazy taste in music that I did! That was a 100% text-based message board. With the greatly expanding pipes of the internet, the opportunities for building a beautiful experience are ample.
No Depression’s opportunity is to create that feeling we all had in 1994 again, version 2.0. Given I’ve been working in the internet space for 9+ years now, I spoke with them last month and gave them some of my thoughts. It’s not all that important to me that they take the advice, it’s just important to me that these communities continue to flourish and prosper. They gave me a lot and I wish them well.