Editor in Chief Craig Marks: Print ‘Stands in the Way of Where Spin Needs to Be’

Digital music pub tries new direction

It's time to let go of the idea that music outlet Spin is meant to be a print magazine, according to newly appointed editor in chief Craig Marks.

"It's very, very hard to break up with print," he said. "But to hold onto print and to have an even kind of romantic relationship with it probably stands in the way of where Spin needs to be as a 21st-century digital publication."

His new role at the mag is a homecoming of sorts for Marks, who was an editor for Spin for seven years during the 1990s. Most recently, he was the editorial director for BlogTalkRadio, but music journalism has always been in his blood: He co-founded Popdust and edited Billboard and Blender. He will officially become editor in chief on June 23. 

Lately, it's been a bit rocky for the music publication, which launched the careers of writers Chuck Klosterman, Andy Greenwald and Elizabeth Gilbert. After SpinMedia (then called Buzzmedia) took the reins in July 2012, Spin became a digital-only outlet and canned its then editor in chief Steve Kandell. Former online editor in chief Caryn Ganz replaced him, but she too was given the boot in May 2013.

However, SpinMedia—which also owns Vibe, Celebuzz, The Frisky and Stereogum—has said things are looking up. In February, it received $10 million in new funding from investors and hired former Entertainment Weekly and Ok! magazine publisher Tom Morrissy to become its evp and CRO. Then, it announced in April it was poised to grow 24 to 30 percent during the first quarter of the year, thanks to growth in demand for its branded videos. 

And, while he enjoyed working at Spin during its print days, Marks said he recognizes that today's fan has more access to music, whether that's listening through streaming radio or engaging with fellow fans online. In order to speak the youth's language, he believes the music outlet belongs online.

"Spin, like all music titles, has a young audience, and it needs to be extremely engaged and relevant to where that audience is. That audience is clearly glued to their phones," he said.

While Marks asserted that Spin will continue to expand in the mobile and video spheres, he said it will never shy away from its core music reportage.

"Spin's job is to be a gateway for fans to learn more about music to learn more about the artist they care about and to learn more about ways for fans to engage with the music. It's always been the mission of a music magazine,” Marks said.