Tracks magazine to let listeners do more than just read about music
Like hundreds of its brethren, the music magazine Tracks bit the dust in April after three years, its ambitions to focus on the alt-country, Americana and AAA artists favored by boomers outweighed by too much red ink.
Alan Light put out a quality product, and the sampler that came from each issue didn't hurt. This week came an e-mail that Tracks was going to emerge in a podcast format, with interviews by Light, shorter features and music from artists the magazine pushed, such as Kathleen Edwards, Sufjan Stevens and Iron & Wine.
Can't tell you yet what I think of it, as the download came up empty. More importantly, Tracks eventually wants subscribers to pony up three bucks a month for its efforts, which puts it into uncharted podcast territory.
It's a risky strategy at best, given the paucity of successful, free Web content, and the plethora of free podcasts, even if most are devoid of the professional sheen that will accompany the Tracks effort. And Tracks' dilemma comes down to the most nagging question about podcasts: who has the time to listen to all this stuff?
Meantime, for those hungering for the latest on the likes of Lucinda Williams (the last Tracks cover girl), there is still Harp, which covers much of the same waterfront, and Paste, which arrived in my mailbox yesterday, and said they'd honor my Tracks subscription for up to a year.
The bi-monthly Paste, http://www.pastemagazine.com/, is slick and suprisingly thick, pushing 200 pages, filled with a melange of interviews, news and reviews for those of us a tad old for Spin or Vibe, and looking for more than the small amount of coverage this music gets in Rolling Stone.
Like Tracks did, Paste backs up its enthusiasm for the music it covers with an eclectic CD sampler that's great for the road if your car doesn't have XM or Sirius. The CD comes with a twist, namely a DVD on the flip side with one hour's worth of concert footage and music videos.
Given that it charges $7.95 on the newsstand, Paste makes it worthwhile to plunk down $26.95 for a subscription, though Tracks subscribers can sign up for $20 through Sept. 15.
Many of the artists these magazines cover don't sell scads of albums. But they often make up for it with small but fiercely devoted followings, which Paste and Harp need to latch onto