It's no secret that music journalism's on the ropes. In recent months, questions about its future have faced publications such as the Village Voice, SPIN (which won’t be printing a year-end issue), and many more, even making their way to satire blog Hipster Runoff, which decried the “broken indie machine” fueled by "controversial" news, listicles and buzz bands. Serious readers and writers are both struggling: the site Prefix, for one, has been offering new writers $2 a blog post. This is a bummer for everybody.
We want to try something different. UNCOOL is a new online publication inspired by everything from Longform.org and One Week // One Band to Joan Didion and Lester Bangs. We’ll be running exclusively longform writing -- in-depth profiles of fascinating musicians, thoughtful criticism, archaeological discography expeditions, personal essays and much, much more. They'll all have one thing in common: length. Our monthly "cover story" feature will be a minimum of 3,000 words and some might crack 10,000, with our other articles going long as well. We're going to let some of the best music writers working cover the music that matters to them, from the top of next week's charts to lost classics from unknown underground scenes. In an era of infinite musical access, our journalism should reflect that scope, not be tied to Twitter trending topics or tired genre snobbery.
We’re also going to pay our staff. Great journalism is a profession, not a hobby, and that's where we need your help. We’re going to run a single piece a week, not 10 or 20 or 100, which means we'll be able to pay our writers a fair rate for good work. We want to run the kind of work you'll take the time to sit down with, digest and think about for a while, not skim in a frenzy of headline clicks. We also want to showcase compelling photography and art, to balance out our thousands of words and examine music from every angle. UNCOOL is going to be completely advertising-free, so we’ll never worry about cashing in on SEO pageviews or impressing a sneaker company. Our goal is to fund our first year of work right now, with your support.
After that? We're going to keep growing in two ways: for a yearly rate, subscribers will get our email newsletter, which will include bonus features like a handsome ebook of the month’s “issue,” additional photos, Q&A extras and more -- perhaps audio from an interview, or a podcast with the writers. Additionally, each individual feature will be available for sale as an ebook, with proceeds split 50/50 between the editorial staff and the writer. Let’s figure this out together.
Here’s what you won’t see on UNCOOL: News. Listicles. Mock-controversial headlines. Photo galleries of the hottest ______ at _______. Banner ads. Instead, you'll find smart, engaging, surprising journalism, every single week.
UNCOOL is being edited and run by founders David Greenwald (Billboard, GQ, Rawkblog) and Daniel Siegal (Rolling Stone, Los Angeles Times). Our current writing staff includes:
Jeff Weiss (The Passion of the Weiss, Rolling Stone, LA Weekly)
Rachael Maddux (Paste, Pitchfork, The Paris Review)
Amos Barshad (Grantland, New York Magazine)
Simon Vozick-Levinson (Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly)
Scott Tennent (Pretty Goes with Pretty, Spiderland 33 ⅓ book)
Chris Ott (Shallow Rewards, Unknown Pleasures 33 1/3 book)
Jamieson Cox (Pitchfork, Buzzfeed)
Daniel Kolitz (Prefix, Thought Catalog)
Henry "Rizoh" Adaso (Houston Press, Vibe)
Devon Maloney (SPIN, Vice)
Harley Oliver Brown (Village Voice, Pitchfork)
More writers will be joining us. If we’re fully funded, here’s where the money’s going:
- $39,600: 12 months of $3,300 monthly editorial budget (features, essays, photography and so on)
- $5,400 or less: Kickstarter and Amazon’s cut.
- $1,000: Web and graphic design from creatives including the award-winning Traci Larson, so UNCOOL looks as beautiful as it reads.
- $2,000 or less: Cost of t-shirts, buttons and other Kickstarter rewards.
- $6,000: 1-year editor stipend/ramen money for David and Daniel, who will be writing, editing, assigning pieces and generally running the ship in addition to their other journalism jobs.
The more we raise, the more we can pay the writers and the more great work we can run. Extra funds will also go toward the editor stipend to help grow UNCOOL into a broader, sustainable publication.
Get to know our writers and get a preview of our work with original pieces throughout our Kickstarter campaign at uncoolmag.tumblr.com.
Risks and challenges
We've already tapped a committed staff of writers and creators to make UNCOOL happen. With experience on the web and at national magazines and daily newspapers, we know what it takes to produce compelling journalism in any style or scale. We won't let you down.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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