Magazine article Reason

Alt Business: Mags for Adult Rockers

Magazine article Reason

Alt Business: Mags for Adult Rockers

Article excerpt

ON NOVEMBER 18 a music Publishing subculture that had been quietly thriving far from the bright glare of Manhattan suddenly found itself thrust into the limelight. Tracks, a New York-based "music magazine for adults," made its ballyhooed debut.

The cover boy may have been baby boomer snoozer Sting, but much of the magazine's meat was dedicated to a loose genre of music that is as increasingly popular as it is hard to name: "alt country," "roots rock," "Americana." One thing artists categorized thus have in common is that they manage to sell impressive numbers of records without being played much on commercial radio. As Adam Smith noted, division of labor is limited by the extent of the market. While geographically constrained stations may have to pander with poppy pap, publications with a potentially national audience can afford to focus on (and nurture) niche cultural movements.

The premiere issue of Tracks included a first-person essay by alt country heartthrob Ryan Adams, a profile of public radio twang champions My Morning Jacket, and reviews of new CDS by Emmylou Harris and Randy Newman. In an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer, Tracks' 37-year-old editor, Alan Light, said he was trying to produce a magazine for people like a friend of his who is really into such Americana founding fathers as the Jayhawks and Wilco. "Obviously he was learning about these things," Light told the Inquirer, "but it wasn't from magazines."

At least, not the kind of magazines that get profiled twice in a month by The New York Times. …

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