Grooves Magazine, dedicated to experimental electronic music and music tech, wasn’t exactly a formula for massive mainstream newsstand appeal. (I don’t think I ever spotted a copy in a truck stop. For a better example of how to make a magazine succeed, at truck stops and elsewhere, look at Easyriders: scantily-clad and topless women + motorcycles. See a comparison of the formula after the jump, in case this is unclear.)

Grooves didn’t make it on the newsstands, but it’s been reborn as an online-only publication, and that’s a good thing: now anyone can get to it and browse through it easily. US$10 buys you four issues, and well worth it (and much easier than tracking it down before). I personally prefer reading music magazines online, because then I can check out the music I’m reading about. (Reading about music just isn’t the same.)

Grooves Magazine Online

[Updated: I incorrectly indicated the subscriptions were free. They’re US$10 for four issues.]

The current issue (#20) has plenty to appeal to CDM readers: Matmos on the cover, a roundup of custom ensembles for Native Instruments Reaktor, gear and music reviews, and even live music coverage. The spirit of the magazine I think is embodied in this shot from Brooklyn’s No Fun Festival. (Deathpile, photographed by Pierre Richardson.) I go for more of a well-groomed thang, myself, but it’s great to see one magazine avoiding the hype and heading straight for electronic music’s raunchy, punk underbelly. On the downside, the magazine continues to suffer from the “White guy hanging out along somewhere looking dour” syndrome with the artists it covers, but the online format makes it even easier to skip ahead to the geeky bits. And unlike some attempts to create online magazine interfaces, this one is fairly readable, with a download option.

For would-be magazine tycoons, though, let’s compare. Grooves:


Which do you think sells better? Now if we could somehow add a little of the latter to the CDM formula, I’m sure this could be really big. Oh, and tattoos. Gotta have tattoos.

  • Adrian Anders

    Sucks that they had to go online only. I really liked the stuff they covered. I put it up there with XLR8R for quality of content and coverage.

  • Tom

    Advantages of print mags:

    They're printed out

    They look great

    They're really easy to read

    They last forever

    They don't require AC power or batteries

    Disadvantages of print mags:

    They only come out, like, 12 times a year.

    They cost money

    Seems like these clowns are going online, without losing any of the disadvantages of print. If these guys have great stories to tell, or great ideas, or great access, but they can't get anyone to pay for it, they should start a blog. That's what we did, right?

  • Tom, it's an oversimplification to say we couldn't get anyone to pay for it. if you know anything about the magazine industry, you would know that not only is the climate for print mags not so great these days, but that even major mag companies often don't break even on new titles for a few years after making huge investments. so the fact that grooves lasted six years on the newsstands while i was working a day job and raising my kids is less typical than you think.

    oh and thanks for calling us "clowns," btw. makes all our hard work producing a good product worth it.


  • Sean, I've always liked Grooves and am thrilled you're moving to what seems a more appropriate format given the nature of your content.

    Any chance you'll go the Sound On Sound route and offer the back issues as PDFs on CD? I would love to get my eyes on one of those.

  • Tom

    Hey Sean,

    Well, I shouldn't have called you clowns and I apologise for that. It was rude and totally unnecessary.


    I do have a certain amount of experience in the magazine industry.

    I guess what set off questions in my head was that it looked from Peter's story like you're trying to stick to a magazine format (i.e. publishing monthly, having a front cover, trying to take nice photos of guys with studio tans), but without the benefits of the magazine format. That seemed like a weird, old-web idea, compared with fast, interacive media like the one we're reading now. Never having read your magazine, I worried that you were more in love with the format (printed magazines), than with the storytelling – because it's something I've seen in the past. It was very unfair to apply this to you, considering I know nothing about you or your mag, so apologies again.

    The great thing about the web is that if you have the stories to tell, you can now tell them for free, and reach a far bigger audience than you could with a print magazine. Unless those stories are really big, in which case every supermarket in the country will want to stock your magazine, and you'll get very rich.


    Sorry, that really was a ramble.

  • vlad–if you live in the u.s., we have select back issues available still. let me know. otherwise, yes we're thinking about the best way to make past content more available.

    tom–i hear what you're saying about the immediacy of the Web, and i agree in theory it's best to report/post things right away. however, i think you'd agree that a typical Web site is not really ideal for a lengthy article like you'd see in a print mag. you're either clicking multiple pages, or scrolling forever. there are also restraints on how you can lay out the piece and limits on what fonts to use, etc.

    the digital mag is kind of the best current solution to bridge the gap between print mag and just posting an article on the site. my hope is that the gap will continue to shrink and that we can consider moving to an alternative model sometime in the future.

  • Sean, I noticed the availability of paper back issues on your site, which is great for someone after specific information or to complete their collection.

    What I'm after is an archive of bytes I can take with me wherever I go. My studio is filled to the brim with gear, so the less paper clutter the better. I tend to pass along or recycle magazines shortly after I read them, just so they can't keep soaking up space. This, and the primary green issues of conservation and sustainability, make your new web format a dream for the many like me.

    Then there's the added bonus of portability. A PDF archive of all the back issues is perfectly portable for the nomadic aspect of my life. My laptop goes everywhere with me, even when I'm off the grid. It would be great to take Grooves everywhere with me, too.

  • SeÃ&AEl

    it's a boring magazine written about microgenres of microgenres…albums of completely derivative music stemming from one good idea some actual musician had 8 years ago, then these folks drove into the ground with reaktor and egos. coincidentally every advertiser's albums also had nice little reviews. in the year i was subscribed i didn't find out about any new good music, just stuff that i already knew about from online press and xlr8r.

    my guess is it didn't sell because it liked to hang out in the back of the magazine stand and criticize all the other magazines while stroking its little magazine goatee.

  • Quick update: Unfortunately, due to an increased workload at my day job, I've had to stop publishing the digital magazine edition of Grooves. Instead, we're going to regulalry post all content on our recently relaunched Web site. Check it out if you're interested.