48 comments on “How Rolling Stone Fell Out of Relevancy

  1. That’s an interesting observation, since they just had Justin(a) Bieber on one of their covers. To me that says they’re trying to attract the tween/young teen audience. If I still had a subscription that issue would have gone straight in the trash, since I have no interest in reading about untalented artists (another mainstream push) like that.

    But I do agree with you, they are not as relevant as they used to be.

    • Justin Bieber is not untalented. If you think he is then you know not what talent is. He may not be your kind of music, but its a fact he has talent.

  2. I did like their recent coverage of Against Me! frontman Tom Gabel (now Laura Jane Grace). But other than that, I haven’t found too many reasons to pick up the magazine in the last decade or so.

  3. I used to read Rolling Stone back when a Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie) cover with a Van Halen blurb was cutting edge (I don’t know if “cutting edge” was a term back then). If I recognize the performer on an entertainment/music magazine cover (unless it’s Justin Bieber), then the magazine is irrelevant. Is Justin Bieber irrelevant yet?

  4. As a college frat guy, I loved my AC/DC (still do). But I agree completely with pretty much everything you wrote here. There is a wealth of awesome music and talented composers out there, and RS covers Bieber? I mean, my collection of electronic music is probably still pretty mainstream (BT, Fluke, Hybrid, Pole Folder, Delerium/Conjure One, Nick Warren and so forth), but compared to the shit in RS, I’m on the lunatic fringe of music. And that’s sad.

    Great post.

  5. Are you, by any chance, a high school student? I get a bit of that from your tone and style of writing.
    I don’t know who you are or anything about you – and clicked her randomly. But anyone who claims that a multi million dollar franchise such as Rollingstone is “irrelevant” better be able to walk the walk and talk the talk beyond the above Hipster-griping. If Rollingstone is behind the curve it’s probably because they are print media. Let’s face it – kids like you don’t buy magazines. They click on blogs! And that’s where Hipsters supposedly claim the next big thing before it is the next big thing. Rollingstone is there to verify that the next big thing has actually arrived and entered cultural relevancy to the point where a 35 year old parent who has a job will take notice (because they might not have the time to be Hip). Skrillex is flavor of the last three months if you want to be generally accurate. You think video game companies and designer brands are going to advert next to articles about bands nobody has heard of? Not likely.

    So the next time you make big claims such as the one above, maybe attend an Intro to Media studies class at your local collage before you post. Just saying.

    • “You think video game companies and designer brands are going to advert next to articles about bands nobody has heard of? Not likely. ”

      Yeah, it’s totally unlikely Apple will use ad campaigns with relatively obscure bands… oh, and Ford too, oh, and Target too. Oh wait, that’s right, they have and still do. Apple used bands like Grouplove before they were recognizable, Ford used Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeroes right before they hit mainstream, and Target used Starfucker before they were “Pyramiddd” or “STRFKR” –before Reptillians came out.

      So next time you make claims such as the above one, maybe do more research for your “Intro to Media” class at YOUR local collage [sic] before you post.

      Also, next time read over your post and fix your spelling errors before posting. Just saying, it’s spelled college.

    • I initially thought you might be a Rolling Stone writer but your use of “Rollingstone” suggests otherwise. My next guess is that you’re such a devoted fan that you rabidly endorse a company that YOU pay, similar to the cult of Apple. But I’m sure this different than that, right? Since Rolling Stone has been around a lot longer than iPods and those darn kids these days… I know it must be frustrating watching those hipster whippersnappers talk about music, so you aren’t sure how to rejoin the conversation– you’d rather just wait for the next issue of Rolling Stone. “Just saying.”

  6. The difference is the live stage, my friend. There may be some exceptions, but I’ll guess most modern artists can’t inhabit a concert stage as well as a “dinosaur” like Springsteen. Even at 62, he has been playing nearly four hour sets on the European leg of his tour. That’s why the music of today resides “in the shadows” of the legends of yesteryear. Live or studio, they can’t compare.

  7. I have this suspicion that Rolling Stone’s revenues depend primarily on the longstanding subscriptions of entrepreneurial ex-hippies in the Bay Area. If the kids doin’ their bloggin’ and blargin’ &cetera was willing to pay for a print periodical, then maybe the giants of music journalism would answer to a different demographic. But we’re not so lucky. Maybe they’ll pay attention if we print, bind, and distribute the blogs.

  8. its almost as if RS is so irrelevant that writing a blog about it is irrelevant eh?

    and u2 is on the radar bc when u make $554 million on a single tour it deserves attention.

  9. its almost as if RS is so irrelevant than blogging about it is irrelevant eh?

    and u2 remains on the radar bc when a band makes $554 million on a single tour it deserves attention

  10. Well…am sure they have heard you now. If you asked me – the old stuff does not get useless because there is new stuff. Powerful creations will endure even without the Rolling Stone. I will however follow your blog to make sure my knowledge does not get fossilfied

  11. for the content of a magazine you have to look at the magazine itself. jann wenner founded the magazine way back in 1967. there\’s a lot of people who have been with the magazine for years, and those are folks who grew up on guys like springsteen and U2 and still revere them. it\’s sad that they\’re still late to the game on some things (and you\’re right, why talk about club music now? even without a hollywood presence i think any mention of deadmau5 is at least a good 2 or 3 years overdue), but if you want a magazine so well versed in what is still considered a very young, very hip scene (and clubbing is very much coveted by the youngsters), then look to publications run and written by people closer to that age group.

  12. I think RS probably just isn’t looking to this demographic for customers. However, I’d just like to stick up for dinosaurs. What have you got against them?

  13. Congrats on the fresh press. I clicked through to it because I said to my wife not long ago that if it wasn\’t for Springsteen mentions on the cover they might not have a cover at all. (Don\’t get me wrong – I love Bruce and the photo of him rocking in the rain was a testament to his career and show staying power.) But their reviews are incomprehensible – thanks Michaelangelo Matas! – and for people who don\’t have time to sit around sampling every new thing that comes down the turnpike, tossing out inside jokes and made-up words doesn\’t help sell music. I’ll keep getting it for the kick-ass political coverage and Peter Travers’ spot-on reviews, but skim past the celeb photos and gossip.

  14. Ok, let me just jump in here for a second.

    Wow! Lots of great comments, thanks for the interest, everyone! Even to those who disagreed, I appreciate all the feedback, I really do!

    Now, I’d just like to address one thing first – I really don’t hate Baby Boomers. (Ha, I didn’t think I would ever have to write that!) and I didn’t mean to come across as saying that “all the music from the 60s and 70s sucks,” or something to that extent. Actually, I enjoy a lot of older music, but that’s wasn’t the point of the article…

    The point was, as stated, if you’re going to have a music magazine that claims to have all sorts of information on all sorts of new music and culture, than it doesn’t make too much sense to focus SO much on old bands like AC/DC, U2, Springsteen, Bowie, etc, does it? Think about it like this – if you are selling a magazine called, “Jazz Music Monthly,” it probably wouldn’t make much sense to put TOO much focus on…say… heavy metal bands, right? (unless it’s some weird jazz-metal hybrid, but I digress…..)

    Now, I’m not saying RS needs to completely ignore the older bands, but by and large, there is a lot of music RS does ignore that IS relevant today. Not just ‘fringe’ music by ‘a few hipsters.’ (hell, RS seems to love indie rock hipsters!) Electronic music fans are not all ‘fringe,’ there’s actually tens of millions of us here in the U.S. alone! :) It’s too bad some of the over-40 crowd doesn’t like all the new music, but that’s fine, and hell, it’s understandable; the point is this – there is great new music coming out (a lot of it) and much of it is getting a lot more popular, and it doesn’t seem to get much mention in magazines like Rolling Stone, a publication that claims to be all about new music.

    So, that was the point. I thought I made it clear, but if not, I hope it’s clear now :)

    Thanks for all the interest everyone! I’m really excited there’s so much discussion going on! It’s made my day!!!! :D
    -will (StrangeFlow)

    • Another response to that – with the corporate ownership of broadcast media, where are casual listeners going to find new music? My son was playing a new techno song I really like, but he wouldn’t have known about it except for Sirius. Our local radio stations either exclusively play heavy metal or act like 1995 hasn’t even come around. And sorry, I just don’t have time or money to search iTunes!

  15. The Bieber cover, by the way, had the text “HOT. READY. LEGAL.” written on it with him posing “seductively” in a tank top. Since when did Rolling Stone turn into Tiger Beat Magazine? That’s the real story.

  16. I remember going to the underground after parties downtown Toronto to hear House music in the early 90’s. Electronic music has been around for so long for Rolling Stone to finally come to their senses and feature (although now very commercial) an artist like Deadmau5.. and the like. but kudos for trying..RIP

  17. I disagree with you: AC/DC rules. Just because they love their roots… Their music is amazing. They’re a milestone of Hard Rock music. So Rolling Stone talks about their new music and new album. That’s it.

  18. Bands pay publicists huge amounts of money to get press in publications. The bands who don’t do that, or don’t have the money, don’t get the press. Chances are, a large majority of the album reviews and little articles are paid for – even if the band does deserve the attention – they probably paid a chunk of change for the mention. I’m sure Rolling Stone can write large articles about whatever artist they want (even if they aren’t paid for that) but they could also be getting paid from the PR teams for these huge bands to make sure they get a ton of press. Rolling Stone is still a very reputable music publication, if not THE most reputable music publication…whether it’s actually relevant or not. But my guess is, it comes down to money.

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  20. As an infrequent reader of Rolling Stone, I have observed that RS has become more of a general entertainment magazine that sometimes covers national/international affairs. You’re just as likely to see Christian Bale as Batman or President Obama on the cover as much as Springsteen. Their predilection toward established stars could be seen as taking an editorial path of least resistance.

  21. Meh. RS means nothing to me. When your music tastes run between 18th and 19th century classical music, melodic rock, Brazilian R&B, and klezmer, the mainstream music media is of very little use to you.

  22. Maybe Ziggy Stardust is on the cover of Rolling Stone because David Bowie’s music is better than 95% of the tripe that is being passed off as music today. ::shakes cane::

  23. Have you thought about starting your own music magazine and picking up all the music you want people to know about. It takes someone who knows about these things…who knows, you might even become RS’s competition! :)

  24. I can’t say that I’m into electronic music, but I’m not a BBB ex-hippie either. I have to agree with your assessment of the Rolling Stone though. Rolling Stone has most definitely gathered a LOT of moss!

    They do have some good political stories, but for edgy music, dance, fashion, or just about anything, look elsewhere.

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  26. Thiis commentary should be permanently fresh pressed (but then it would get old and irrelevant, right?) I’m in that 3B age group and you are so so right.

  27. Well said. I totally agree with your sentiments and have had similar thoughts myself since the changed print size!

  28. Definitely feelin’ this, my roomie is subscribed to Rolling Stone and when I got the mail the other day I was greeted to the headline: JUSTIN BIEBER, HOT, LEGAL, READY

    Shaking My Head.

  29. I stopped taking any notice of RS when it decided that Lady Gaga’s 3 year career had outlived/eclipsed Madonna’s 30 year career and that she was now the queen of pop! Purlease…. two and a half album into her career and dethroning HRH in your meat frock, I think not! Is anyone bothered about Gaga anymore? Hah! Who’s still hitting in the headline, both positively and negatively?

    • Yea, Gaga seemed like she was trying to be the female Marilyn Manson, only not scary. An interesting angle, I suppose; but I’m not ‘shocked,’ the way mainstream culture seems to think I should be. Her music is catchy, but I’m just not a fan, I get kind of annoyed at her sometimes. To each their own, I respect her artistic integrity in doing whatever she wants, but yea, I’m just not into her music or the hype.

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  31. I googled “Rolling Stone sucks” and got some responses but this is by far the best read, everything you said I agree with (there was even an article about how Henry Rollins don’t like RS).

    The reason i googled that is because my brother(45) and myself (43) both can not stand RS. He has been a diligent subscriber for like 20 years and has a stack in his bathroom so I flip through it while pinching….

    But he is not sure why he still subscribes to it as we both can not stand the stale, old, boring b-boomers yammering on about how Hendrix may be the best guitarist(even when they likely wrote the exact same story in the 80s it was a decade old), Bono is so f**king amazing, Metallica is an incredible metal band, and the Beatles are worth a circle jerk(now there’s a band- the Circle Jerks) still decades heaped upon decades later. Good grief, don’t you guys at RS just tire of this same antiquated drivel??!

    We both liked and still like many of these bands RS can’t seem to let go of, my brother has loads of Springsteen CDs, but really what great thing has that has-been done to get even a 8th of a page in RS. Ask anybody what is latest stuff is….crickets…..crickets……

    I am sure they have done polls to cater to their demographic(boomers) but it is just painful when I am sitting on my brother’s can and open up some issue and see Madonna, Bowie or some other great yes but irrelevant now band featured.

    Live a little, see if you can not write about one of these ‘gods’ for say half a year, especially the Beatles. We get it you love them.
    -Greg from Canada

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