No Depression's new Web site rocks
It's out, and by all appearances the new No Depression Web site just might be on its way to being a success.
About nine months ago, the founders/editorial staff at No Depression Magazine, a publication geared toward alt/indie music, realized that the decline they were seeing in advertising revenue was going to continue and the magazine was a sinking ship. So back then they made plans to retire the printed magazine and enter the digital world. That's not an easy thing to do. The print world and the digital world work under two completely different business models, and frankly, it seems that not too many understand how to make money in the digital world. I don't know, that's for sure.
But what I do know is that the new ND site gives me everything that I loved in the magazine, plus some of those extras that you can only get in the digital world.
The site is rich in its coverage of alt/indie music. Every time I picked up a copy of the magazine I found myself Googling names of bands and artists I had never heard of, and checking them out on YouTube and MySpace. And after surfing the site for a couple of days, I'm already fans of The Bittersweets and The Decemberists, two bands I wasn't familiar with.
And I'd like to tell the staff of ND right now that they can pick up phone and call their advertisers that just yesterday, after visiting that site, I logged on to Amazon.com and ordered CDs by The Bittersweets and Chris Knight, both of whom I learned about from ND, and Lucinda William's new CD, who I knew about when I discovered ND, but who had a darn good feature on her in the Jan/Feb 2007 issue. I know this because I have the cover pinned here to my bulletin board. ND sold CDs; it's just a damn shame the advertisers and labels didn't or couldn't see that. And I'm not saying it's a good thing, but the advertisers' blindness causes talented, creative, passionate people to keep pursuing their passion.
The site also has all the great content (that's digital talk for writing) that was in the magazine. The writing has always been the foundation to ND. It's intelligent writing about music and life written by writers who obviously know about both and which some people realize are as inseparable as whiskey and A minor. That's the side of life that alt/indie music captures. Just get a look at something Grant Alden wrote about Chris Knight. I defy you not to keep reading through the beginning, even though he doesn't mention Chris Knight's name after the first paragraph until about halfway through. And I defy you not to want to hear some of Knight's music after reading this piece.
And that piece is also a pretty good example of maybe why it was a good idea to shelve the printed piece and bring ND into the 21st digital century. There are links and embedded mp3s and a video from YouTube--all the sights and sounds that paper just can't deliver. And in the end there are comments from readers. Somewhere on the new site a reader wrote that now we can read all the letters that were written, not just the ones that they chose to print. That give and take is so important to the today's readers, and it's great that ND recognized that.
They're still selling t-shirts and they've put together a "bookazine", which is a compilation of their writing. NoDepression.com's publisher, Kayla Fairchild, who was a co-publisher of the magazine and who headed up the digital effort, asks in her initial column for people to spread the word, do a little viral marketing.
"There were the expected naysayers along the way who said it was virtually impossible for content providers to monetize on the web. I’m asking you to help me prove them wrong. I believe it can be possible for writers to be paid for their craft. You can help by visiting the site often, telling your friends and associates about it, becoming a member of the site, buying the bookazine directly from us, supporting our advertisers, buying music, shopping at Amazon by entering through the No Depression web site as we get a kick back from every purchase you make, whether it’s music or not. It’s going to take an army to keep this thing alive and I’m counting on you."
In essence, we're in this together, which we knew or should have known all along, whether we're talking perpetuating good music and art or riding out the economy.