South by Southwest isn’t just a haven for established and up-and-coming musicians, it’s also the single best place to mingle with the best and brightest of the music industry at large. We were fortunate enough to have a chance to interview Doug Brod, Editor in charge of SPIN magazine. Backstage, mere moments before Fucked Up was slated to take the stage, we had a chance to pick the brain of the man commanding one of the most respected music magazines in the USA. Doug was open and well spoken, understandably enthusiastic about his company and his charge directing it.
mxdwn: How are you doing Doug?
Doug Brod: I’m doing fine thank you.
mxdwn:How does it feel to be at the helm of the world’s finest music magazine in its 25th year of existence?
Brod: That’s very flattering, and it is quite a thrill to be upholding the legacy of the magazine. It’s been my favorite magazine for many, many years obviously, and I’m just happy to be here.
mxdwn: How many years have you been at the company?
Brod: I’ve been at the magazine for seven years starting in May. I’ve been the Editor-in-Chief for around four.
mxdwn: I came into running a music magazine myself, basically because of SPIN and when Alan Light was in charge when you guys did your end of the best-of-the-90’s decade wrap-up issue, and I’ve been fighting/struggling to raise my own ever since. All along I have been hearing the woes of many people in the print—especially music journalism–industry. How do you keep a company like SPIN successful and continuing to grow?
Brod: It’s interesting, you’re right, it’s a very difficult time right now especially with print. We have to put the best magazine out that we can that people want to read, that people want to subscribe to and people want to renew their subscriptions to, people want to buy off the newsstand. That’s number one. Number two is you have to be able to diversify. We have SPIN.com, which gets a lot of traffic. It’s been building-and-building in a pretty big way in the past couple of years. We’ve devoted a lot of energy toward it, a lot of money, a lot of time and we have also an events/marketing arm of the magazine. So, you know there’s always new business out there, and we just have to basically put out a good product and as long as you keep doing that, then people trust you, people want to read you, then you’re in good shape.
mxdwn: Do you ever think that—I doubt it personally—but just out of curiosity, do you ever think you might eventually go purely digital? Or will the print always endure?
Brod: That’s a good question. I can’t answer that. The guy who owns the magazine also owns Chronicle Books in San Francisco. He’s a print guy, so it’s pretty heartening to us to know that we have someone who’s putting money into the magazine whose business is print, is paper. So that’s a good sign for us I think.
mxdwn: Being in charge of the editorial vision and direction of SPIN at this time what do you try to do differently than other people might have in the past?
Brod: For one thing, we have to capitalize on our access now. There are billions of blogs out there doing a little bit of what we do with reviews and blurbs and things like that, trying to be tastemakers, and I think at SPIN we have to take advantage of our access to artists to go deeper in terms of the journalism, to do more thorough reporting, intense reporting. You know, reporting on stuff that not everybody else is covering so you’re not lost in that noise, and I kind of feel like that’s what we’re doing right now.
mxdwn: Who are you most looking forward to at SXSW?
Brod: Well actually I saw the band already and I’ll probably going to want to see them again, a band called The Jim Jones Revue. They’re from England, the guy used to be in a band in the 90’s called Thee Hypnotics. The band now that he’s fronting is kind of like Little Richard meets the MC5. It’s like a very basic 50’s rockabilly band but played with tremendous punk energy and he’s an incredible front man. That’s the band I was most looking forward to seeing and they lived up to my expectations.
mxdwn: Kind of like Nic Armstrong and the Thieves a few years back?
Doug: Yeah exactly. Also a little bit of John Spencer Blues Explosion, a little bit like that, definitely that kind of energy.
mxdwn: Well I thank you for your time.
Doug: My pleasure, now I’m going to go watch Fucked Up play.
Doug Brod photo by Takay