Not only are cassettes reemerging from the underground (as I've discussed here and here), but zines are also making their presence felt beyond local shops. One edited music zine in an edition of 500 recently made a mainstream media appearance, as growing interest in low tech and high touch media reminds us that there are alternatives to mainstream digital culture.
"David Shapiro", a pseudonym for the blogger-in-chief at Pitchfork Reviews Reviews, recently released "The World’s First Perfect Zine" at the rather exorbitant price of $12. I think it's a music zine since the content creators are musicians and writers who often write about music,though David doesn't make that clear. However, he is well known for blogging about music reviews.
His blog Pitchfork Reviews Reviews, where he reviews Pitchfork reviews (great concept), was included in a NY Times piece about Pitchfork last year. A recent release party for The World's First Perfect Zine got coverage in both Fast Company and a mention in another NY Times piece about zines' "resurgence among the web-savvy."
In nice twist, Tumblr cosponsored the party hosted at Other Music, an East Village record shop. But the zine resurgence is a much wider phenomenon that includes experienced zine makers such as "Darlene Rock-N-Roll Fanzine" creator Randy Spaghetti who's included in a Library Journal roundup of zine makers.
For a while it seemed like blogs were soaking up all the energy that used to go into zines but now they're part of the zine ecosystem, for example, Randy Spaghetti also has a blog where he reviews zines. And in what sometimes seem like a dying blogging tradition, he has a list of other blogs and sites in his sidebar that includes such great zine resources as:
You'll notice that a lot of zines are music-related and I remember (said grandpa) when zines were a way to keep up with indie bands around the world, especially as punk rock emerged in the 80s. Normally I would now be seguing into the idea that zines might be a good way to publicize one's band and I actually think that's true. But an even better way to publicize with a music zine is to start your own.
Zines were part of the subculture that defined DIY back in the day and putting out a zine might be a cool way for a band to distinguish themselves today. If nothing else, you could include it in that limited edition box set of cassette singles you've been planning.
If you find such a notion of interest or just want to find out more about the zine subculture, here are some resources worth a look:
And if you are getting your band into zines or decide to experiment with marketing through zines or expressing your music creativity in zine form, please be in touch.
Hypebot contributor Clyde Smith maintains his freelance writing hub at Flux Research and blogs at All World Dance and This Business of Blogging. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.