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Spin (magazine)

Spin Magazine Cover.png
Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love, and their daughter Frances on Spin, December 1992
Year founded1985; 37 years ago (1985)
Final issueSeptember/October 2012 (print); 9 years ago
CompanyNext Management Partners
CountryUnited States
Based inNew York City, New York, U.S.

Spin was an American music magazine founded in 1985 by publisher Bob Guccione, Jr. Now owned by Next Management Partners, the magazine is an online publication since it stopped issuing a print edition in 2012.


Early history

Spin was established in 1985 by Bob Guccione, Jr. In August 1987, the publisher announced it would stop publishing Spin, but Guccione Jr. retained control of the magazine and partnered with former MTV president David H. Horowitz to quickly revive the magazine. During this time, it was published by Camouflage Publishing with Guccione Jr. serving as president and chief executive and Horowitz as investor and chairman.

In its early years, Spin was known for its narrow music coverage with an emphasis on college rock, grunge, indie rock, and the ongoing emergence of hip-hop, while virtually ignoring other genres, such as country and metal. It pointedly provided a national alternative to Rolling Stone's more establishment-oriented style.[citation needed] Spin prominently placed rising acts such as R.E.M., Prince, Run-D.M.C., Beastie Boys, and Talking Heads on its covers and did lengthy features on established figures such as Duran Duran, Keith Richards, Miles Davis, Aerosmith, Tom Waits, and John Lee Hooker.

On a cultural level, the magazine devoted significant coverage to punk, alternative country, electronica, reggae and world music, experimental rock, jazz of the most adventurous sort, burgeoning underground music scenes, and a variety of fringe styles. Artists such as the Ramones, Patti Smith, Blondie, X, Black Flag, and the former members of the Sex Pistols, The Clash, and the early punk and New Wave movements were heavily featured in Spin's editorial mix. Spin's extensive coverage of hip-hop music and culture, especially that of contributing editor John Leland, was notable at the time.[citation needed]

Editorial contributions by musical and cultural figures included Lydia Lunch, Henry Rollins, David Lee Roth and Dwight Yoakam. The magazine also reported on cities such as Austin, Texas, and Glasgow, Scotland, as cultural incubators in the independent music scene. A 1990 article on the contemporary country blues scene brought R. L. Burnside to national attention for the first time.[citation needed] Coverage of American cartoonists, Japanese manga, monster trucks, the AIDS crisis, outsider artists, Twin Peaks, and other non-mainstream cultural phenomena distinguished the magazine's early years.[citation needed] In July 1986, Spin published an exposé by Robert Keating on how the funds raised at the Live Aid concert might have been inappropriately used. Beginning in January 1988, Spin published a monthly series of articles about the AIDS epidemic titled "Words from the Front".

In 1990, Spin hired John Skipper in the new position of publishing director and president while Guccione, Jr. continued to serve as editor and publisher. In the early 1990s, Spin played an influential role on the grunge era, featuring alternative rock artists such as "Nirvana and PJ Harvey on its covers when more mainstream magazines often failed to acknowledge them".

In 1994, two journalists working for the magazine were killed by a landmine while reporting on the Bosnian War in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A third, William T. Vollmann, was injured.

In 1997, Guccione Jr. left the magazine after selling Spin to Miller Publishing for $43.3 million. The new owner appointed Michael Hirschorn as editor-in-chief. A partnership made up of Robert Miller, David Salzman, and Quincy Jones, Miller Publishing also owned Vibe, which together made up Vibe/Spin Ventures. In 1999, Alan Light, who previously served as editor of Vibe succeeded Hirschorn at Spin.

Later years

Sia Michel was appointed editor-in-chief in early 2002 to succeed Light. With Michel as editor, according to Evan Sawdey of PopMatters, "Spin was one of the most funny, engaging music publications out there, capable of writing about everyone from the Used to [Kanye West] with an enthusiasm and deep-seated knowledge in genre archetypes that made for page-turning reading". In 2003, Spin sent Chuck Klosterman, a senior writer who joined the magazine in the 1990s, on a trip to visit the death sites of famous artists in rock music, which became the basis of his 2005 book, Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story. Klosterman wrote for Spin until 2006.

In February 2006, Miller Publishing sold the magazine to a San Francisco-based company called the McEvoy Group LLC, which was also the owner of Chronicle Books. That company formed Spin Media LLC as a holding company. The new owners appointed Andy Pemberton, a former editor at Blender, to succeed Michel as editor-in-chief. The first and only issue to be published under Pemberton's editorship was the July 2006 issue which featured Beyoncé on the cover. Pemberton resigned from Spin in June 2006 and was succeeded by Doug Brod, who was executive editor during Michel's tenure.

In 2008, the magazine began publishing a complete digital edition of each issue. For the 25th anniversary of Prince's Purple Rain, in 2009, Spin released "a comprehensive oral history of the film and album and a free downloadable tribute that features nine bands doing song-for-song covers of the record".

In March 2010, the entire collection of Spin magazine back issues became freely readable on Google Books. Brod remained editor until June 2011 when he was replaced by Steve Kandell who previously served as deputy editor. In July 2011, for the 20th anniversary of Nirvana's 1991 album, Nevermind, the magazine released a tribute album including all 13 songs with each covered by a different artist. The album released for free on Facebook included covers by Butch Walker, Amanda Palmer and Titus Andronicus.

With the March 2012 issue, Spin relaunched the magazine in a larger, bi-monthly format and, at the same time, expanded its online presence. In July 2012, Spin was sold to Buzzmedia, which eventually renamed itself SpinMedia. The September/October 2012 issue was the magazine's last print edition. It continued to publish entirely online with Caryn Ganz as its editor-in-chief. In June 2013, Ganz was succeeded by Jem Aswad, who was replaced by Craig Marks in June of the following year.

In 2016, Puja Patel was appointed editor and Eldridge Industries acquired SpinMedia via the Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Media Group for an undisclosed amount. Matt Medved became editor in December 2018.

Spin was acquired in 2020 by Next Management Partners. Jimmy Hutcheson serves chief executive officer with Daniel Kohn as editorial director and Spin's founder, Guccione Jr., who rejoined the magazine as creative advisor.


In 1995, Spin produced its first book, entitled Spin Alternative Record Guide. It compiled writings by 64 music critics on recording artists and bands relevant to the alternative music movement, with each artist's entry featuring their discography and albums reviewed and rated a score between one and ten. According to Pitchfork Media's Matthew Perpetua, the book featured "the best and brightest writers of the 80s and 90s, many of whom started off in zines but have since become major figures in music criticism," including Rob Sheffield, Byron Coley, Ann Powers, Simon Reynolds, and Alex Ross. Although the book was not a sales success, "it inspired a disproportionate number of young readers to pursue music criticism." After the book was published, its entry on 1960s folk artist John Fahey, written by Byron Coley, helped renew interest in Fahey's music, leading to interest from record labels and the alternative music scene.

For Spin's 20th anniversary in 2005, it published a book, Spin: 20 Years of Alternative Music, chronicling the prior two decades in music. The book has essays on grunge, Britpop, and emo, among other genres of music, as well as pieces on musical acts including Marilyn Manson, Tupac Shakur, R.E.M., Nirvana, Weezer, Nine Inch Nails, Limp Bizkit, and the Smashing Pumpkins.[citation needed]

Year-end lists

SPIN began compiling year-end lists in 1990.

Artist of the Year

Year Artist Ref.
1994 The Smashing Pumpkins
1995 PJ Harvey
1996 Beck
1997 The Notorious B.I.G.
1998 Lauryn Hill
1999 Rage Against the Machine
2000 Eminem
2001 U2
2002 The Strokes
2003 Coldplay
2004 Modest Mouse
2005 M.I.A.
2006 Artists on YouTube and MySpace
2007 Kanye West and Daft Punk
2008 Lil Wayne
2009 Kings of Leon
2010 LCD Soundsystem, Florence and the Machine, and The Black Keys
2011 Fucked Up
2012 Death Grips
2013 Mike Will Made It
2014 Sia
2015 Deafheaven
2019 Billie Eilish
2020 Run the Jewels
2021 Turnstile

Single of the Year

Year Artist Song Nation Ref.
1994 Beck "Loser"  United States
1995 Moby "Feeling So Real"  United States
1996 Fugees "Ready or Not"  United States
1997 The Notorious B.I.G. "Hypnotize"  United States
1998 Fatboy Slim "The Rockafeller Skank"  England
1999 TLC "No Scrubs"  United States
2000 Eminem "The Real Slim Shady"  United States
2001 Missy Elliott "Get Ur Freak On"  United States
2002 Eminem "Cleanin' Out My Closet"  United States
2003 50 Cent "In da Club"  United States
2004 Green Day "American Idiot"  United States
2005 Gorillaz "Feel Good Inc."  England
2006 Gnarls Barkley "Crazy"  United States
2007 Kanye West "Stronger"  United States
2008 M.I.A. "Paper Planes"  England
2009 Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Zero"  United States
2010 CeeLo Green "Fuck You"  United States
2011 Adele "Rolling in the Deep"  England
2012 GOOD Music "Mercy"  United States
2013 Daft Punk "Get Lucky"  France
2014 Future Islands "Seasons (Waiting on You)"  United States
2015 Justin Bieber "What Do You Mean?"  Canada
2016 Rae Sremmurd "Black Beatles"  United States
2017 Calvin Harris, Frank Ocean, and Migos "Slide"  Scotland
2018 Valee and Jeremih "Womp Womp"  United States
2019 Big Thief "Orange"  United States
2020 Bartees Strange "Boomer"  England
2021 Japanese Breakfast "Be Sweet"  United States

Album of the Year

Year Artist Album Nation Ref.
1990 Ice Cube AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted  United States
1991 Teenage Fanclub Bandwagonesque  Scotland
1992 Pavement Slanted and Enchanted  United States
1993 Liz Phair Exile in Guyville  United States
1994 Hole Live Through This  United States
1995 Moby Everything is Wrong  United States
1996 Beck Odelay  United States
1997 Cornershop When I Was Born for the 7th Time  England
1998 Lauryn Hill The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill  United States
1999 Nine Inch Nails The Fragile  United States
2000 Radiohead Kid A  England
2001 System of a Down Toxicity  United States
2002 The White Stripes White Blood Cells  United States
2003 Elephant
2004 Kanye West The College Dropout  United States
2005 Late Registration
2006 TV on the Radio Return to Cookie Mountain  United States
2007 Against Me! New Wave  United States
2008 TV on the Radio Dear Science  United States
2009 Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavilion  United States
2010 Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy  United States
2011 Fucked Up David Comes to Life  Canada
2012 Frank Ocean Channel Orange  United States
2013 Kanye West Yeezus  United States
2014 The War on Drugs Lost in the Dream  United States
2015 Kendrick Lamar To Pimp A Butterfly  United States
2016 Solange Knowles A Seat at the Table  United States
2017 Kendrick Lamar Damn.  United States
2018 The 1975 A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships  England
2019 Big Thief Two Hands  United States
2020 Fiona Apple Fetch the Bolt Cutters  United States
2021 Turnstile Glow On  United States

Note: The 2000 album of the year was awarded to "your hard drive", acknowledging the impact that filesharing had on the music listening experience in 2000. Kid A was listed as number 2, the highest ranking given to an actual album.

Additionally, the following albums were selected by the magazine as the best albums of their respective years in retrospective lists published decades later for years prior to the magazine's 1990 introduction of year-end album lists.:

Year Artist Album Nation Ref.
1971 Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin IV  England
1981 King Crimson Discipline  England
1982 Kate Bush The Dreaming  England

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