Cool Magazine Alert: Performing Songwriter
Sometimes the best discoveries can occur when browsing the racks.
How did you spend your Memorial Day? I spent mine at the local Books-A-Million browsing the magazine rack, something I donâ€™t get to do as much since leaving Manhattan. Typically Iâ€™ll go into local bookstores to see how my own pub, Southern Breeze, is doing. Much to my chagrin, Southern Breeze wasnâ€™t being sold. Were they sold out? Nope, they donâ€™t carry it. Odd, considering our offices are less than a mile from this particular outlet.
But my chagrin is not the topic of this blog. I wanted to let other magazine pros know about a really cool publication you may not be familiar with: Performing Songwriter. In perusing the racks, I spotted the latest issue due to its cover subject, Neil Diamond. However, when I opened the pages, I was not just pleasantly surprised. I was blown away!
Granted, the reason I bought the issue was due to my fan boyâ€™s devotion to Neil, but after leafing through the rest of the book, I immediately became a fan. The cover story article was extremely in-depth and not only featured an opening two-page spread that rivals any lifestyle glossy but the story itself was packed full of information that was not only relevant to the publicationâ€™s target audienceâ€”song writers who performâ€”but also accessible to a casual reader like myself.
The article was a mix of a typical profile and a Q&A mixed in with various sidebars highlighting Diamondâ€™s music, stories behind the songs, and more. In short, it was all an interested songwriter or Neil Diamond fan could hope for. The sidebars are the epitome of what I consider to be great sidebarsâ€”relevant information that is not simply regurgitated high points from the main feature.
Founding editor-in-chief, Lydia Hutchinson, even includes a sidebar on her editorâ€™s page describing her favorite CD or songwriter of the moment, which is a very cool idea and connects with the reader without resorting to stunt typical of way too many magazines these days. (Note to magazine writers: You are not the story, your subject is!)
Lydia started Performing Songwriter 15 years ago out of her guest bedroom with no business plan or funding, just a desire to create a forum for people who are passionate about the music they write and perform. â€śI really had no idea it would become what it has,â€ť she admits. â€śBut it immediately hit a really passionate community that didn't have any other publication that talked about creativity and what it was like to live an artistic life; it was a place where people felt safe talking about what music means to them because they were among like-minded souls.â€ť
Aside from the Neil Diamond cover story there are also interviews with The Kinksâ€™ Ray Davies, Michael McDonald, Death Cab for Cutie, Zooey Deschanel and many more. Not a bad lineup for a magazine youâ€™ve never heard of!
Performing Songwriter also has its fair share of CD reviews as well as interviews with mixers, producers, and other pros in the music industry. Recording equipment also plays a large role in the magazine and several products are reviewedâ€”some in great detailâ€”within each issue. Despite the number of big names in the issue, Performing Songwriter has an intimate feel, almost like itâ€™s for a select few, and in a way, it is.
Lydia stressed that sheâ€™s neither a songwriter nor a performerâ€”she just loves music. This further solidifies my opinion that you donâ€™t have to be an â€śexpertâ€ť in a field to oversee a publication dedicated to it. But you should have at least some passion for your subject otherwise your magazine will be somewhat insincere and subpar.
As an added bonus, the Web site is pretty cool too.
Feel free to share your own stories of magazines youâ€™ve discovered over the years that fall outside your own â€ścomfort zoneâ€ť in the comments section.
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