Damn, this makes me sad. While I'm not a subscriber, I am an Amplifier fan (er, maybe make that "was"...), and the whole sordid pay-for-review mess depresses the hell out of me. Believe it or not, I completely and totally get the reasons/justifications Amplifier honcho Joe Joyce has thrown out there to defend his actions -- in short, that running a real-live paper mag costs real-live money, and more of it than you'd think.
Those who've begun to go slightly gray like yours truly (it's the stress, I swear...) may remember that while Space City Rock the Website has been around for a decade-plus, it really didn't come into its own 'til some foolish person (me) succumbed to prodding from possibly-sadistic friends (Josh, where the hell did you get to?) and launched Space City Rock the Print Zine. We ran the thing for four glorious issues before running smack into the solid brick wall of "holy fucking shit this thing is expensive to do." For us, it was a choice between Option A) quitting or Option B) going digital, and we chose the latter. So I get Joyce's financial pressures, I really do.
The problem, though, is that Joyce came up with Option C) tying reviews to ad sales. And no, I'm sure he didn't invent this thing on his own -- rumor has it that its happened for years -- but damn, man...talk about a deal with the devil. Like with good-old-fashioned radio payola, this kind of pay-for-play swap takes the love of music completely out of the equation. Which really sucks.
I'm not going to pretend I know what it's like to be in Joe Joyce's shoes -- this little e-zine's never forced me to take any drastic financial measures, and the money we deal in (hah!) is peanuts compared to the budget of even a relatively small indie mag like Amplifier. But it sure feels like I'm watching one of those money/fame/drugs-ruins-a-good-thing flicks (Scarface, Rockstar, Wall Street, take your pick) where the protagonist lets those evil Outside Influences push them into mortgaging the things they really love. Unfortunately, this ain't the movies, it's reality, and the hero's not going to come to his senses and throw it all aside to keep it all about the music, man. And that's a damn shame.
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