“Punk Planet” Calls It Quits

Jun 18th, 2007 // 7 Comments

PP79_maxi.jpgPunk 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.

Dear Friends,

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 theend@punkplanet.com.

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]

  1. brasstax

    This makes me truly sad. PP’s been one of my favorite zines for going on ten years.

  2. mackro

    Not too shocking as issues were getting delayed for a while, but I remember Dan Sinker speaking at the EMP Pop Conference about how difficult it can be to keep afloat in independent publishing, especially in a periodical format.

    My only complaint about Punk Planet was the record reviews. Ironically, they were one of the most forward thinking magazines as far as political coverage, domestically and globally.

    And I’ll miss the “Life With Larry” column in printed format. I’ll have to search out Larry’s blog — if he has one, hopefully.

    Dan is a super nice and smart guy. I wish him the best.

  3. Cam/ron

    As a former PP contributor, it saddens me to hear the news. The magazine definitely had some of the best, most fearless political and cultural writing in the punk zine world for many years (especially between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq). Their coverage of visual artists and designers were also the best. Dan Sinker did a great job of tapping into the American punk zeitgeist and its numerous ups and downs. I’ll miss PP and the time when a DIY music zine truly meant something when you held it in your hands – before the Internet came along and brought the print zine world to its knees.

  4. catdirt

    bummer. i never read punk planet or mrr but i’m sad anyway.

  5. catdirt

    not that mrr is gone… right? mrr is still out there?

  6. rinjonjori

    While I honestly never got through an issue– I know that somewhere some eager young punk was doing it for me. Getting old sucks. Just one more reminder.

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