R.I.P. Venus Zine

Last week, women’s music magazine Venus Zine announced that it was going under, ending its print run and laying off all of its staff. The quarterly pub has been around since 1995, and while originally focused on women in music grew to cover creative and DIY culture, a sort of love-child of Spin and Bust.

Creator Amy Schroeder and one of her first episodes of Venus Zine

Editor-in-chief Jill Russell gave the following statement via e-mail about the end of the magazines’ 15 year run:

We just learned that Venus will no longer publish in print (also, myself and the other staffers will be done as of this Friday, Dec. 10). Despite our best efforts — and we have done amazingly well this year on the editorial side, both in print and online — it’s become an issue of finances, as always in media … It’s definitely not happy news to have to unravel the spring 2011 issue, which was already well under way, as well as much of the forthcoming web content, but it’s unfortunately what we’re in the process of doing now.

Precarious finances have haunted Venus Zine in the last few years. What began as a zine put together by Amy Schroeder in 1995 when she was a women’s studies major at Michigan State saw healthy progress as a smart women’s music magazine until 2009, when the current publishers (Schroeder sold the magazine in 2006 after years of supporting its production with other gigs) printed the last issue.

It was quickly sold then to Sarah Beardsley, who envisioned taking Venus Zine from a quarterly music magazine with a loyal following to a monthly publication with widespread circulation. Good intentions aside, fans bristled when Beardsley gave the following response to a question about Venus Zine’s feminist content:

That’s such a word fraught with interpretation and meaning. We don’t use that particular F word around here. It just doesn’t seem relevant.

She called feminism “an old-fashioned concept” and explained that “it doesn’t enter into our discussions about what we’re going to cover and what have you.”

Now, those are fightin’ words for any woman in this day and age, especially one who just bought a beloved and one of few women’s music magazines. Critics and supporters alike, though, watched as Venus Zine returned to print earlier this year, with free copies paraded at SXSW, the premiere of a dude on the cover (Jack White got the honor), and plan to switch to monthly publication.

Still, though, it looks like the poor publishing climate got the best of Venus Zine. As of now, their website still features promotions for the Winter 2010 issue with Janelle Monae on the cover, but no news of the end of the magazine’s print run.

Mindy Abovitz is the creator and editor-in-chief of the Brooklyn-based Tom Tom Magazine, a magazine about female drummers. As the only widely published print mag about women in music left after Venus Zine’s demise, she told AfterEllen.com how important it was to continue printing issues.

“Putting Tom Tom into print has served a couple of purposes,” Abovitz said. “It legitimizes the magazine and puts it on the shelf next to other magazines, which does a lot for both the people are featured in it and the folks who work on putting it together. Secondly, it creates a tangible evidence of our history as women musicians.”

Anyone who has brightened to see a copy of Venus Zine on newstands among the glut of male-dominated music rags would probably agree.

“Luckily I haven’t experienced publishing a magazine in a more fruitful economic climate so for me … this is it,” Abovitz said.”It’s all I know and I am just happy to be here.”

Wish we could be saying the same for Venus Zine. VZ, you will be missed.