Music magazines and the first draft of history

Authored by: Dave Laing , Catherine Strong

The Routledge Companion to Popular Music History and Heritage

Print publication date:  May  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138237636
eBook ISBN: 9781315299310
Adobe ISBN:


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Music magazines have been an important part of popular music’s metatext for over a century. They can be divided into periodicals that cover popular music in general, those concerned with specific genres or other specialist topics such as the music industry, instruments or hi-fi equipment, and fanzines and newspapers that occasionally review performances and interview artists. However, the large number of internet publications and blogs have blurred the distinction between professional magazines and fanzines. Eye- or ear-witness accounts published in such magazines can become the first drafts of the history and the raw material for some classic studies of popular music. The explicit or implicit definitions of genres and the lists of best recordings or artists to be found in genre-specific periodicals provide important historiographical material. In recent years fanzines have become recognised as significant elements in exhibitions designed to define and display popular music heritage, although this has had the unintended consequence of downplaying the significance of commercially produced music magazines.

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