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Spin is a music magazine founded in 1985 by publisher Bob Guccione, Jr.. The magazine stopped running in print in 2012 and currently runs as a webzine.
Spin was established in 1985. In its early years, the magazine was noted for its broad music coverage with an emphasis on college rock and on the ongoing emergence of hip-hop. The magazine was eclectic and bold, if sometimes haphazard. It pointedly provided a national alternative to Rolling Stone’s more establishment-oriented style. Spin prominently placed newer artists such as R.E.M., Prince, Run-D.M.C., Eurythmics, Beastie Boys, and Talking Heads on its covers and did lengthy features on established figures such as Bob Dylan, Keith Richards, Miles Davis, Aerosmith, Lou Reed, Tom Waits, and John Lee Hooker—Bart Bull’s article on Hooker won the magazine its first major award.
On a cultural level, the magazine devoted significant coverage to hardcore punk, alternative country, reggae and world music, experimental rock, jazz of the most adventurous sort, the burgeoning college rock and underground music scenes of the 1980s, and a variety of fringe styles. Artists such as the Ramones, Patti Smith, Blondie, X, Black Flag, and the former members of the Sex Pistols, The Clash, and the early punk/New Wave movement were heavily featured in Spin ’s editorial mix. Spin ’s extensive coverage of hip-hop music and culture, especially that of contributing editor John Leland, was notable at the time.
Editorial contributions by musical and cultural figures included Lydia Lunch, Henry Rollins, David Lee Roth and Dwight Yoakam. The magazine also reported on cities such as Austin, Texas, or Glasgow, Scotland, as cultural incubators in the independent music scene. A 1990 article on the contemporary country blues scene brought R. L. Burnside to national attention for the first time. Coverage of American cartoonists, Japanese manga, monster trucks, outsider artists, Twin Peaks, and other non-mainstream cultural phenomena distinguished the magazine’s dynamic early years.
In late 1987, publisher Bob Guccione Jr.’s father, Bob Guccione Sr., abruptly shut the magazine down despite the fact that the two-year-old magazine was widely considered a success, with a newsstand circulation of 150,000. Guccione Jr. was able to rally much of his staff, partner with former MTV president and David H. Horowitz, locate additional new investors and offices and after missing a month’s publication, returned with a combined November–December issue. During this time, it was published by Camouflage Associates. In 1997, Guccione sold Spin to Miller Publishing.
In February 2006, Miller Publishing sold the magazine for less than US$5 million to a San Francisco-based company called the McEvoy Group LLC, which was also the owner of Chronicle Books. That company formed Spin Media LLC as a holding company. The new owners replaced editor-in-chief (since 2002) Sia Michel with Andy Pemberton, a former editor at Blender. The first issue to be published under his brief command was the July 2006 issue—sent to the printer in May 2006—which featured Beyoncé on the cover. Pemberton and Spin parted ways the next month, in June 2006. The current editor, Doug Brod, was executive editor during Michel’s tenure.
For Spin ’s 20th year, it released a book chronicling the prior two decades in music. The book has essays on grunge, Britpop, emo, and many other types of music, as well as pieces on musical acts including Marilyn Manson, Nirvana, Weezer, Nine Inch Nails, Limp Bizkit, and The Smashing Pumpkins. In February 2008, Spin released a digital edition available through Texterity. In February 2012, Spin relaunched the magazine in a larger, bi-monthly format with reviews being seen on the website and on Twitter rather than being read in the magazine which now does longer, extended editorials and interviews featuring up and coming talent.
In July 2012, Spin was sold to Buzzmedia, which eventually renamed itself SpinMedia. The September/October 2012 issue was the last print issue for Spin. However, its publication was ceased three weeks later.
Spin Alternative Record Guide
Main article: Spin Alternative Record Guide
In 1995, Spin produced its first book, entitled Spin Alternative Record Guide. It compiled writings by 64 music critics on recording artists and bands relevant to the alternative music movement, with each artist’s entry featuring their discography and albums reviewed and rated a score between one and ten. According to Pitchfork Media’s Matthew Perpetua, the book featured “the best and brightest writers of the 80s and 90s, many of whom started off in zines but have since become major figures in music criticism”, including Rob Sheffield, Byron Coley, Ann Powers, Simon Reynolds, and Alex Ross. Although the book was not a sales success, “it inspired a disproportionate number of young readers to pursue music criticism.” After the book was published, its entry on 1960s folk artist John Fahey, written by Byron Coley, helped renew interest in Fahey’s music, leading to interest from record labels and the alternative music scene.