Punk Planet–one of the best-known indie-culture ‘zines of the past decade-is folding. An announcement on the publication’s official website says that next issue will be its last, and cites such factors as declining ad sales, the Internet and the 2005 dissolution of its main distributor, BigTop Newsstand Services.
During its 13-year history, PP was notable for its columnists (including Jessica Hopper and Lookout! Records founder Larry Livermore) and its commitment to D.I.Y. principles; it also reviewed hundreds of on-the-fringe ‘zines and albums that wouldn’t have gotten notice elsewhere (and did so in very, very tiny type). The announcement notes that founder Dan Sinker will continue to oversee the publication’s book imprint and website; you can read the statement in full after the click-through.
As much as it breaks our hearts to write these words, the final issue of Punk Planet is in the post, possibly heading toward you right now. Over the last 80 issues and 13 years, we’ve covered every aspect of the financially independent, emotionally autonomous, free culture we refer to as “the underground.” In that time we’ve sounded many alarms from our editorial offices: about threats of co-optation, big-media emulation, and unseen corporate sponsorship. We’ve also done everything in our power to create a support network for independent media, experiment with revenue streams, and correct the distribution issues that have increasingly plagued independent magazines. But now we’ve come to the impossible decision to stop printing, having sounded all the alarms and reenvisioned all the systems we can. Benefit shows are no longer enough to make up for bad distribution deals, disappearing advertisers, and a decreasing audience of subscribers.
As to the latter two points, we could blame the Internet. It makes editorial content–and bands–easy to find, for free. (We’re sure our fellow indie labels, those still standing, can attest to the difficulties created in the last few years). We can blame educational and media systems that value magazines focused on consumerism over engaged dissent. And we can blame the popular but mistaken belief that punk died several years ago.
But it is also true that great things end, and the best things end far too quickly.
As to bad distribution deals, we must acknowledge that the financial hit we took in October of 2005, when our newsstand distributor announced that it was in dire straits, was worse than we originally thought. As the dust began to clear from their January bankruptcy announcement, we began to realize that the magazine was left in significantly worse shape, distribution-wise, than they let on.
Add to that the stagnation that the independent record world is suffering under and the effect that has had on our ad sales, not to mention the loss of independent bookstores with a vested interest in selling our publication, and it all adds up to a desperate situation. This has been made far worse by the exhaustion felt from a year and a half of fighting our own distributor. It was a situation that didn’t have an exit strategy other then, well, exiting.
The books line will continue to publish, and the website will continue to be a social networking site for independently minded folk; Dan will be staying with both, but Anne will be moving on, only blogging occasionally at punkplanet.com while she pursues other interests. All further inquiries about the magazine should be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There probably isn’t much else to say that we haven’t already said in PP80–in articles about new activist projects, SXSW, the demise of the IPA, and transgender media, and in interviews with the G7 Welcoming Committee, Andre Schiffrin, and The Steinways. Read it, enjoy it, and find in it enough inspiration to last until we come back in some other form, at some other time, renewed and ready to make another outstanding mark on the world.
Punk Planet magazine — R.I.P.P [PunkPlanet.com]