No wonder Mixmag keep lining up paid puff pieces! As France’s Trax Magazine closes down after 26 years, what’s the future for dance music press?

Right now, a great polarisation is going on within the dance music press. Typically, most publications within the realm have gone in one of two directions – they’ve either started running far more sponsored articles than they used to, or they’ve simply decided to emphasise how independent they are.

From what Ears To The House can see, neither method is working. The first pays the bills in the short term, but raises major questions about their editorial independence – whilst the second retains its integrity, but doesn’t seem to make any money in the current climate. But neither is a long-term solution.

The truth is that good journalism costs money – not just to hire journalists, but to give them the tools and freedom to do their job properly. In recent months, we’ve noticed yet more publications closing their doors – France’s Trax Magazine is the latest to do so, having began circulating all the way back in 1997.

Their editor-in-chief Simon Clair confirmed the news in a Twitter thread. Whilst not disclosing much about why this was happening, it’s worth noting that Clair briefly referenced “the state of the music press in France”…

Truth be told, this is a conversation which should have happened over 20 years ago. In the early 2000s, a recession took place within the dance music world – partly thanks to Y2K parties at the millennium failing to sell, ridiculously inflated DJ fees and less advertising revenue being available.

It led to record labels losing the plot and making some really bad business decisions. In 2002, a rattled Ministry of Sound signed electroclash duo Fischerspooner – a gamble which backfired spectacularly. Ears To The House published the story in June 2021 of how this could have bankrupted the Ministry.

This time around, many of the big labels are in a better financial situation – but the combination of shows not selling like they used to, ridiculously inflated DJ fees, and a lack of advertising revenue rings as true now as it did in the early 2000s. Everyone just somehow muddled through back then – but this fudge just left the big questions unanswered and means there’s less music journalism than ever before.

If this discussion doesn’t take place – and soon – the only dance music publications will be ones filled with paid pieces and little to no real journalism. Readers will lose interest and check out – and as soon as that happens, even the sponsored outlets are doomed…

Ears To The House Team

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