Funded! This project was successfully funded on January 31, 2012.

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Best Music Writing is a beloved annual publication that collects all the world's best music writing. Help it go indie!

UPDATE: All backers of the Best Music Writing Kickstarter campaign get a discount code for the National Book Critics Circle Award finalist in criticism, Ellen Willis's Out of the Vinyl Deeps. Check our "backers only" update for more info!

This post is a call for lovers of writing about music to come together to support a new initiative. Starting with the 2012 edition, the Best Music Writing series will be independently published and have a new editorial structure that will better serve the music writing community and create a more dynamic, wide-reaching book for music writing fans. We need your help to make it happen!

Best Music Writing is a beloved annual publication of the best English-language music writing. It was begun in 2000 and has featured guest editors such as Matt Groening, Alex Ross, Robert Christgau, Mary Gaitskill, Mickey Hart, Jonathan Lethem, Nelson George, Ann Powers, Nick Hornby, Peter Guralnick, and Greil Marcus.

Each year the book collects the outstanding music features, essays, reviews, profiles, blog posts, short stories, news reporting, Tweets, online commentary and many other forms of writing into one handy space that defines the cultural conversation had through music today.

The 2012 edition will be the first book for a new, music writing-focused press, of which Best Music Writing will be the flagship title. We need support from followers of the title, music fans, music writers, music publishers, the music industry, and independent publishers to launch this book!

This Kickstarter campaign will raise money to pay for the production of our 2012 book, including payments for reprint rights from writers, a small editorial board stipend, graphic design services, and administrative services for licensing and project management. It's hard to believe but this much alone is around $20k!

Anything above this amount will cover printing costs, administrative and start up costs. We would love to hear from other funding sources, donors, or from those who would supply us with in-kind services. If you are a music and music writing fan who has have brilliant ideas or skill sets related to publishing, marketing, or editorial service, we want to hear from you. 

The Best Music Writing series stands as the most important space for music writers to be honored each year and has brought many readers to their favorite writers, musicians, and publications (send a testimonial if you're one of these people!) With your help, the book will be even better and its future will be assured. We promise to maintain the high level of attention to quality writing and depth of coverage to as many forms of music and music culture that the book has offered in the past, while reaching out to a global network of writers and publishers, embracing new formats, and serving 21st century readers and writers. 

The series will be growing dynamically this year. It will have a new, improved submission process that is, as always, completely open to the public for nominations of great writing from 2011. For the 2012 edition, there will no longer be a "series editor" position, but rather an editorial board of ten music writing peers who will solicit materials, read, nominate, and argue for or against pieces.

The 2012 board is stellar: Adam Curley, Jewly Hight, Miles Marshal Lewis, Bongani Madondo, Michaelangelo Matos, Anupa Mistry, Ann Powers, Mark Richardson, Victoria Segal, and Alex Ross.

Their selections will be "The Best Music Writing of 2012." Then our guest editor, selected after consultation with the board, will select the pieces that go in the curated book version of this list. The book will exist as a low cost digital copy and as a print copy, and will be designed by a noted book designer who loves music. It will appear earlier in the cycle of “best” anthologies than it has in year’s past. Read more about the project structure here.

I ask you as lovers of this book, as writers, editors, and publishers, as book buyers and book reading attendees, maybe even as friends, lovers, or parents of people involved in music writing, to support this campaign by donating to the fundraiser. Think of it as a really early pre-order, since everyone who gives $15 or more gets a copy of the book!

Stay tuned for news and updates here (or sign up for the mailing list), and join me in the making of a new, better Best Music Writing series.

Thank you,

Daphne Carr (series editor, 2006-present)

Read more about the project at the Village Voice

Praise for the 2011 edition of the book (with guest editor Alex Ross)

Publishers Weekly, 10/3/11
“These collected pieces offer a soulful anthem to the vibrancy of music writing today.”

Booklist, starred review, 11/1/11
“This terrific collection…includes an eclectic bunch of long-form articles and very short pieces…The types of music covered are impressive: classical (Beethoven, Wagner, European avant-garde); jazz (Duke Ellington; and pop (Lady Gaga) as well as country, metal and hip-hop. The selections even transcend borders: a piece on the underground music scene in Tehran is especially insightful…A bracing collection.”

Curled Up With a Good Book
“This is music journalism at its finest.”

Library Journal, 11/15/11
“Aficionados of music and illuminating critical writing will find much to savor in this collection, which exemplifies Ross’s assertion that music can ‘reach across the human universe with astonishing ease.’ Recommended."

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    A handsome BMW tote in which you can carry your copies of Can't Stop Won't Stop, The Rest Is Noise, How To Wreck a Nice Beach, Out of the Vinyl Deeps, Mystery Train, Just Kids, Love Is Mixtape or about 10 33 1/3rds. See http://vol1brooklyn.com/2011/05/11/literary-tote-bag/ to find out how your life will improve with this fashionable accessory.

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    Consider this a pre-order (for non-US residents)! For $35 you get a print copy of Best Music Writing 2012 shipped for arrival on launch day to your delightful but slightly more expensive to mail to address, and an e-book version for your handy device or computer screen.

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    The New Yorker's esteemed music writer Alex Ross wants to give you a copy of one of his books. With this reward, choose either The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century or Listen to This and he'll sign it just for you.

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    We thought the only thing better than listening was reading about music, but Laura of the beloved Eating the Beats blog ((http://www.eatingthebeats.com/) proved us wrong in the best way. With this reward, name your favorite song or musical artist and Laura will whip you up a desert that most resembles its sound and sentiment. She'll even send you a note to let you know what's in it (prescription) and why it tastes like it sounds (description). Treats come in the spring and a digital copy of Best Music Writing 2011 in the fall. Sweet music critic dreams are made of these.

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    You may know Douglas Wolk as a hero among music writers, former Best Music Writing series editor, comic book public intellectual, karaoke king, mixtape supermaker, shambolic pop record label owner, or unapologetic Portlandia resident. Did you know he's also a wicked limerick writer? With this reward, choose the artist or recording and Douglas will compose a set of three limericks for you on the topic, laser-printed on fine paper and suitable for framing. (Specify clean or dirty.) It's the best taboo breaking music writing with end rhyme music writing you will ever read. You'll also get a digital download of the Best Music Writing 2012 book, which may be as funny but won't be as brief.

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    Mairead Case, eloquent music writer, creative non-fiction editor of Another Chicago Magazine, and community arts organizer wants to keep you inspired on your next big writing push. Choose this reward and she'll send you 15 writing prompts a la Oblique Strategies via postcard in the month of your choice. It's the writing coach you've always wanted: constant, encouraging, and glossy coated. You will also get a digital copy of Best Music Writing 2012 (in Sept) with this reward.

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    That's What I Get: Want the opposite of Wolk's limericks? Best Music Writing series editor (2006-2011) and Feedback Press publisher Daphne Carr offers her long, super not funny 33 1/3 book on Nine Inch Nails Pretty Hate Machine in its special, raw silk and silver foil stamped special hand-numbered limited edition. Only one option: pristine, but dirty. Arrives in Feb. Get a digital copy of Best Music Writing 2012 in September.

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    For a donation of $60, you can be one of the readers at literary website Vol.1 Brooklyn's (www.vol1brooklyn.com) Greatest 3-Minute Punk Stories event, happening on April 10 at Brooklyn's Public Assembly. Or if you'd prefer (or aren't based in New York), one of Vol.1's editors will perform a dramatic reading of your piece. (If the latter option is chosen, the dramatic reading will be recorded; you will receive a copy.) Plus, you'll receive a print edition of Best Music Writing 2012 in September.

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    Jessica Bruder, Columbia University subculture journalism professor, NY Times blogger, Burning Man megaforce and Brian Eno cover band shredder, wants to make your favorite musicians in miniature. Tell her who you love and she'll send you a HO scale replica of the artist or group and matching stage set up. She'll toss in a critic either as enthralled audience member or mind-blocked writer, your choice! Suitable for your pop micro doll house, house plant music shrine, or office conversation ender. Get a digital download of the Best Music Writing 2012 as well, so you can read it to your music dolls when no one's around.

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    Oral history is a method used with increasing frequency in music writing. Have Daphne Carr, former series editor and current co-publisher of Best Music Writing, help you devise your music oral history project, be it a story, recording archive, or book project. She's used the technique in her Nine Inch Nails Pretty Hate Machine 33 1/3 book, in her long term fieldwork as an anthropologist, and in a 1100 page oral history of the New Jersey Wildwoods community. She has taught oral history as a class in the past. With this reward you'll get reading selections on classic oral history and music oral history texts, a suggested gear and resource list, and three in person or Skype/phone coaching sessions to discuss the readings, work through your project proposal, and make a concrete and feasible research plan. You'll also get a copy of Best Music Writing 2012 in September.

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    Maura Johnston, music editor of the Village Voice and professor of music journalism at NYU, wants to give you feedback. With this incentive, send her three of your arts writing samples (up to 1500 words each) and she'll give you the line edit of a lifetime plus general feedback on how to shape your writing style. All in the name of better music writing! You'll also get a copy of Best Music Writing 2012.

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    Maura Johnston, music editor of the Village Voice and professor of music journalism at NYU, has graciously donated another set of line edits and feedback for the Best Music Writing fundraiser! With this incentive, send her three of your arts writing samples (up to 1500 words each) and she'll give you the line edit of a lifetime plus general feedback on how to shape your writing style You'll also get a copy of Best Music Writing 2012.

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    Critical life coach. Ann Powers has had a lifelong passion for music and the written word that saw her start as a poet, work in alt weeklies and music magazines. She then became a staff pop music critic at the New York Times, then the LA Times, and now, NPR Music. In the meantime, she's co-authored a bestselling book on Tori Amos and a fantastic memoir, Weird Like Us, that should be required reading for every arts writer. With this incentive, send Ann your CV and a few music writing clips, and then you two can have a frank phone conversation about next steps in your music writing career. Also, you'll get a copy of the Best Music Writing 2012 book and either a t-shirt or a tote (in Sept).

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    Listening/Learning Lab: Jazz. Trombonist and music scholar Aaron J. Johnson is the go to at Columbia University when any professor needs to explain jazz theory, history, and aesthetics to non-experts. A lifelong musician and lover of the genre, he is also a patient, thorough and accommodating teacher. Which is great, because if you get this reward you are getting the chance to let Aaron help you sharpen your listening skills, hear jazz like a musician would, and get the rudiments of jazz music theory explained to you. You'll get a reading and listening list and either two sit down meet ups in NYC or Skype lessons. You'll also get a copy of Best Music Writing 2012 and either a t-shirt or a tote bag.

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    Got a great record collection? As music critics, we think it could be a little better. Let Neil Sweeney, expert buyer at New York City's finest record store, Academy Records, come to your apartment with Daphne Carr, Best Music Writing series editor. She will give you copies of Best Music Writings past and a fine box of chocolates to savor while Neil surveys your collection, giving you tips on what to keep, toss, and get to expand and complete your collection. It will be a life changing nerd out. Academy Records was named by the Village Voice as "Best Place to Buy Vinyl" in 2011, and Neil has been a record buyer in New Orleans, Melbourne, and New York City. His expertise is limitless and his passions are for psychedelic, folk, early music, and industrial/noise. This reward is only for New York City residents and can be redeemed any time after our Kickstarter campaign ends.

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    Feeling analog? Get a special cloth edition of Best Music Writing 2012, a print copy shipped for arrival on launch day, and either a handsome BMW tote bag or BMW t-shirt (specify size).

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    Deems Taylor Award-winning classical music writer, executive editor of New Music Box, and celebrated food blogger (http://wonderlandkitchen.com/) Molly Sheridan, wants to make you a dinner album. Send her your three favorite pieces of classical music and she'll design you a three course meal based on the sounds. She'll test it, photograph the process and results, and then copy out the recipes and write about why she chose the ingredients. Then, she'll lay it out in a book just for you.

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    The devil is a friend of mine. Let Douglas Wolk (see above) call and convince you that you do not want to be a music critic. He will not get off the phone until you've been at least partially convinced. Please don't buy this incentive for anyone but yourself, however tempting it might be to do so. Also you'll get a copy of Best Music Writing 2012 and either a t-shirt or tote, so when people ask you can say "I almost did this too, but Douglas saved me."

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    Wow! You'll get a print copy of Best Music Writing 2012 shipped for arrival on launch day and an e-book version for your handy device or computer screen, a handsome BMW tote bag, a BMW t-shirt, AND a letter from one of our editorial board members on the musical subject of your choice! Get ready for epistolary criticism at its finest!

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    For your generous pledge you'll get five special edition copies of the book in the cover of your choice, five print copies of Best Music Writing 2012 shipped for arrival on launch day and five e-book versions sent to the electronic word nerds in your life, five handsome BMW tote bags, and five BMW t-shirts (specify size) AND a letter from one of our editorial board members on the musical subject of your choice.

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    Patron of the music criticism arts! Build a new walk in closet for all your BMW gifties, including ten special edition copies of the book in the cover of your choice, ten print copies of Best Music Writing 2012, ten e-book versions sent to the electronic word nerds in your life, ten handsome BMW tote bags, and ten BMW t-shirts (specify size) delivered to by two editorial board members who will fly to the continental US city of your choice and host a public BMW reading.

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