Let’s get vulnerable for a minute, pals. I was laid off by the Los Angeles Times in July, when its alt-weekly, Brand X — the place I worked at and loved for the previous year — folded. I have, believe it or not, a pretty lengthy resume and figured I’d get plenty of freelance work. I have: I’m still writing my weekly L.A. Unheard column for the Times, I was hired as a contributing editor at Billboard and I’m writing semi-regularly for places I love and respect like the A.V. Club and Vulture. (I’m doing what’s going to be my favorite thing I’ve ever written for my favorite magazine’s website right now and can’t wait to share it.) Here’s the thing: it’s just not enough money. My cost of living is about as low as it can be in Los Angeles: I live with my fiancee, we found the cheapest rent we could without moving into Skid Row and the only major purchase I’ve made in the last year has been a new computer to replace my dying college laptop. I drive a Toyota (which is a great car, haters to the left).
I’m not trying to go all 99% on you. I’m a middle-class Jew: worst case scenario, I run out of money and go live with my parents for a while, get depressed and apply to law school. But if you’re reading this in your RSS feed, you should know that you’re one of 1,500 or so people who do so every day and have for years. I don’t make a dime off of you and I never have. Advertising on the site, and here’s a truth-bomb, has never been more than $200 in a month, and that was probably the best month in Rawkblog history. I do Rawkblog because I love it. That’s not going to change. But it’s important to me to do it because someone should be writing about music — actually writing and thinking about it — and doing so without deadlines and wordcounts and advertiser and publicist pressure and music festivals to book and all the things that made you start reading blogs in the first place.
Look, music blogs are dying. We were cool from like, 2005-2007, which means we’re well past our expiration date and the traffic reflects this. Most of the better longform writers quit years ago. A handful of blogs, mostly on Tumblr, are still growing, but let’s be honest: those aren’t actually blogs, and I say that with the utmost respect possible. They’re just feeds that post MP3s and Polaroids and Instagram photos and tell you when the band’s new album is coming out, and while I’m happy to have their participation and recommendations, when Yvynyl writes a wonderful multi-paragraph piece like this, it’s like watching the goddamn sun burst through the sky after a year of rain. Sitting down to write something is hard! And people are getting their music from Facebook and Twitter and Spotify and YouTube, which is great, but without bloggers really digging through the digital crates, the best bands may not ever make it to your ears. If you went to SXSW or CMJ or even Coachella this year, you know there are too many bands and you have too little time to deal with figuring out who’s good, who’s bad and who’s Lana Del Rey, much less what makes those bands interesting. What their real stories are, not their bullshit cabin-in-the-woods press release. Who came before them. Who might come after.
It’s a shitty time for music journalism. It’s a shitty time for any journalism. The Times had a round of layoffs after I left and will reportedly have more shortly. There are a handful of dream jobs, but those, like Wall Street, are currently occupied. In this case, it’s by people who generally deserve them. (Hi, Nitsuh!) The Mercury Music Digital Record Club is my submission to the future. Ideally, it will go hand in hand with Rawkblog: you pay a few bucks a month (seriously, less than the cost of the banana walnut loaf you just ate at Starbucks while you waited for your holiday cup latte) and I send you amazing new music and mind-expanding classics on Spotify, making your weekly music discovery easy, alongside serious journalism — photos, interviews, news, reviews, everything Rawkblog ordinarily does and hopefully more of it — right here and in the weekly newsletter. One of my favorite sites, Put This On, did a Kickstarter project for its second season recently and raised over $68,000 in one go. PTO essentially told its readers that you should support the things you love; if you don’t, then they go away. It may have happened to your favorite record store already. It may be about to happen right here.
So try Mercury. Try it for free. For a month. If you hate it, you can cancel it. But you’re here, right? You know you won’t. Let’s make this happen together. Otherwise, I’m going to tweet the shit out of those law school applications.