Phoenix Rising: The Rebirth of Print Niche Magazines

New ALARM Magazine (November / December 2012)

New ALARM Magazine (November / December 2012)

A few years ago, many print niche publications were closing up. Was this the end of print magazines? Even Bitch Magazine went through a financial situation, yet survived and is now Bitch Media, encompassing both the print publication and website. We wrote about the crisis itselfand how they made it through when so many other publications did not. And recently, Newsweek & Spin Magazine closed up.

But two very different print niche publications, ALARM Magazine and Brain Child Magazine have relaunched in print after ceasing publication. And these are two very different publications — ALARM covers non-top 40 music (mostly rock — from mathcore to singer-songwriters), while Brain, Child is mostly first person essays from the perspective of parents (in a very not-mommy blog way). ALARM is “dedicat[ed] to uncovering the best and most progressive bands of the contemporary rock landscape—from space rock to psychobilly and from grunge to grindcore—places an emphasis on the artists who actually move music forward.”; Brain, Child “provide[s] unique perspectives on being mothers and women while addressing readers as thinking individuals, not just medicine-dispensing, food-fixing, boo-boo-kissing mommies.”

Before Brain Child’s expected demise, the New York Times mourned its loss in a way that is true for many small independent publications:

Brain, Child may feel like a lifeline to its rabidly loyal readers, but in reality it’s a very small business in a field buffeted by very big changes, all taking place against the backdrop of a grinding recession that took away the average family’s ability to afford any extras, even those as sweet and modest as a magazine subscription.

Brain, Child Magazine

Brain, Child Magazine

And ALARM never really went away, but having a print magazine format again is very exciting. Interestingly, they started with a “soft” launch, by having their first new print issue available on iPad. And their first new issue (#40) has articles about Soundgarden, Converge, and Mike Patton, all TLF favorites.

Both of these magazines serve their niches well, but it is up to their dedicated readers — both new and continuing to ensure that they continue to exist. And these publications help to create and sustain communities:

the legion of smart, funny, brutally honest and deeply emotional writers who contributed to Brain, Child, and the people who read them, are all still out there in the world, writing, reading and publishing in other spaces…, and I am grateful to have been able to become Facebook and Twitter and even real-life friends with many of them. But they won’t all be in one place anymore — there is suddenly no more there there.

These spaces for like-minded people are rarer than we often notice. So if you are part of these (or other niche communities — hello, Decibel Magazine, Bitch Magazine, Tom Tom Magazine, etc) and want these print and online spaces to continue to flourish, it would behoove you to put your money where your community is.

(Disclosure: Keidra Chaney has written for ALARM, but I haven’t. We both have written for Bitch Magazine. And many independent publications no longer with us.)

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