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Bonus issue: Death of the disco dancers -- How music magazines were killed by b*******
I've got a list. I'm checking it twice. I conclude that they were not nice.
I’ve dreamed of writing a war movie for a long time, something of the old style, all guts, glory, and grit. A b-movie called something like KILLED BY BASTARDS. But the trouble is that title could also be used for a book about the crass, careless, and contemptible way that major publishers have wrecked and ruined great music titles. The NME is a shell. Kerrang! and MixMag luckily survive thanks to help late in the day by a company where their print products are now loss leaders rather than culture changers. The Face has returned but I don’t understand what it wants to be. The Word was executed before its time.
And now, Q, the one music title where I managed to finagle my way onto staff for even a short time lays with its head on the block, its staff putting out a ‘final’ magazine while the powers that be continue to hum and hah over whether it will be reprieved or repurposed as a zombie asset with some online portal to exploit its archives, and the Q Awards surviving as a booze-filled cash cow.
When the history comes to be written -- if it is ever written -- the villains of the story will be execs. Suited and booted bastards who have no real interest in music, no understanding of its effect beyond graphs and demographic data. They were the ones who killed the music magazines with a late-90s and early-00s obsession for creating scenes arbitrarily and pumping out list after list after list. They -- and their supine editor-in-chief minions -- were the ones who spent thousands upon thousands on cover shoots with ‘stars’ that everyone hated. (Q’s notorious Johnny Borrell cover, anyone? I was there. We tried to stop it. Trust me.)
Q over the last five years under the modish captaincy of Ted Kessler, ably assisted by a gang of old and young lags, and a freelance pool that has become more diverse with each passing month, has become genuinely brilliant. The final issue, if it is the final issue, is a masterclass in writing about right now alongside genuinely powerful reminiscences of scenes and people gone by. Q deserves to live. I hope it gets a rescue deal like MixMag and Kerrang! before it, because to go beneath the waves because of an unprecedented economic crisis would be a tragic end.
A salute to all those who have sailed in the good ship Q and a hearty ‘go fuck yourself’ to the long line of publishers and fly-by-night editorial ‘geniuses’ who fucked it for so many years.