Happy ’09 for music writers?

Not likely… I’m gonna have my annual round-up of best music journalism here in PopMatters in about two weeks and part of that includes an intro where I talk about the state of the biz. As you’d expect, it ain’t a pretty picture and it ain’t getting better next year. Along with mags shutting down, there’s plenty of laid-off writers and editors plus the pubs/mags that are still around are cutting down on space, pages and room for stories and/or reviews. The problem is that the way to turn this around is a mystery and the time to figure that out would have been a few years ago. As I’ve said in PM before, long term solutions don’t exist in a Net age so mags/writers/editors are going to be forced to become tech geeks and keep looking for stop-gap solutions. The Radiohead model (give it away, now) is an answer that’s worked to some extent for pubs (Spin for example) but even RH knows that they can’t repeat it themselves.

I’d love to come up with some answers myself and not just ’cause it would make me rich ‘n’ famous (ha!) but it would also help to save an industry I love. In the upcoming round-up, I list a couple of interesting ideas that are being tried now and which might be worth pursuing. But we need more ideas and we need them fast. I like the way that blogs, social networks and such are filling in the gaps but they don’t fill all of the need for informed, thoughtful opinion, reporting and analysis quite yet. Some pubs already think the solution is to go online but that alone ain’t gonna save them.

Wish I had some jollier thoughts for the holiday season but in a dire situation like this, we need some panic to get things going again or it’s all gonna disappear.