Now is the winter of our discontent. First Bandcamp, now Pitchfork. A universe of eulogies, think pieces, and final heckles swirl around this newly folded-in subsidiary of (the formerly titled) Gentleman’s Quarterly. As I have learned, to be a gadfly, you need an institution to bother. As the institution crumbles, so does your critique.
None of this is easy. I know many will be negatively impacted: the folks who are losing their jobs and the bands and artists that rely on outlets like Pitchfork to get the word out about their music. This is a painful loss in a time of painful losses. We who write “A&E” journalism are running out of ground to stand on as Finance Bros make their money by burning everything to the ground.
One suggestion I caught as the news broke was to go underground, get back to another era of music writing and publishing. Thankfully, someone is already working on that.
ROCKER issue #1 was released in December of 2023, originating from the city of Philadelphia. It arrived in the mail very quickly. In-depth interviews, a “how to” on making a paper circuit, a history of American music… all laid out with clear care. It made an immediate positive impression on me, hearkening back to Touch and Go (collected here) and Forced Exposure (still uncollected, but I treasure my copies) when they were publications as well as record labels and distribution hubs. The fact that the first edition of Rocker has sold out is an encouraging sign to me.
As you may have caught on, I once wanted to be a music journalist, assuming I would graduate from college in 1998 and move to New York City and make part of my living off of re-selling promotional copies of CDs to record stores. That did not pan out. I know, I know… I could have seen The Strokes before they broke big. I could have shopped regularly at Other Music. I could have interviewed countless bands that didn’t break big and who are, to this day, still a lil’ bitter about that. May a Nuggets-like collection one day bring them all to larger acclaim!
But that wasn’t to be for me. My life took me in another direction. Instead, things like this column remain a side business, deeply important to me, but a labor of love. I have no choice but to keep on keepin’ on, as I suspect the folks behind Rocker do. When the music-writing light is at this moment of dimness and AI-strangeness, I appreciate any and all who are keeping the flame alive. I will keep going if you will keep going.