The future of Stay Free!
Dear subscribers, blog readers, and friends: After over a decade of running Stay Free!, I'm sad to say that I've decided to stop publishing the magazine. We're going to do one more issue and then publish more-or-less exclusively on the web. There are a number of reasons, but the over-arching theme is burnout -- burnout coupled with financial woes.
Selling ads has gotten all but impossible. Indie record labels and small book publishers -- our bread-and-butter -- are in the toilet. Ditto newsstand sales. No one goes to book stores looking for zines anymore; the nerds are all online. And while I once welcomed the challenge of making things work on a tight budget, I just can't bring myself to beg another distributor to pay us the money they owe -- or to beg more local stores to let us leave out free magazines.
Stay Free! has been the world to me; nearly every good friend of mine I have I met through the zine. But I'm no longer a twentysomething eager and willing to spend every waking moment working on projects. I don't know when exactly I got sick of not having a personal life but the weight of constantly working really took it's toll last year. While Stay Free! shall continue on the web (ie the blog), there's not going to be as much of it as there was a couple of years ago.
Obviously, there's the matter of owing subscribers for issues they'll never receive. I'm going to look into handing that money to a similar publication (Punk Planet? Mother Jones? Adbusters?), so you will get something.
The street date for the next and last issue -- architecture and obsolescence -- is still up the air. I was hoping to have it out in April or May, but that's looking unlikely at this point. I will, as always, keep you posted.
Posted by carrie on 03/09/2007 | Permalink
Dang. That sucks. But I totally understand (I really, really do.). R.I.P. Stay Free! Magazine.
Posted by: Noah | Mar 9, 2007 6:28:53 PM
Carrie this is sad news for a Friday night. I subscribed for two years early in this decade. The issues were great and I passed them on to friends. Since then I have checked in occasionally on the website.
The work you've done is amazing and I know you can pour your energy into something great again.
Posted by: Evan | Mar 9, 2007 8:43:09 PM
Stay Free! was/is one of my favourite magazines ever. Even though it was hard to find here in Australia, it was always worth seeking out. Thanks for all the work you put in.
Are you going to keep the website open?
Posted by: Lumpen | Mar 10, 2007 2:25:51 AM
dang. Have you considered handing it off to another twentysomething eager and willing to spend every waking moment working on projects? Not me, I have a day job.
Posted by: byrd | Mar 10, 2007 11:24:53 AM
i only ever read the website, so here in hope's of more blogging!
Posted by: Crystal | Mar 10, 2007 2:53:49 PM
I'm sorry to hear that, but glad at least that the web publishing will continue (especially since I only recently set SF! as my homepage). It would be ideal to do both, as each has its distinct plusses and minuses.
I've been a fan since I lived in Chapel Hill, which must have been the very early days of SF. It's a rare and great thing to come across a free zine that is smart, interesting, and well-written. Usually, free is good enough for me all by its lonesome.
So, even though I haven't seen a print issue for several years, I'm still bummed to hear the news. But thanks for doing it in the first place, and here's hoping for an even better next 10+ years.
Posted by: Adam | Mar 11, 2007 10:56:01 AM
You should be very proud of the work you've done. Best wishes for future adventures...
Posted by: Chris | Mar 11, 2007 5:06:29 PM
Best of luck Carrie -
I've been a subscriber for many many years and have enjoyed every issue.
Thanks for all your hard work.
Posted by: kalimba | Mar 12, 2007 3:40:02 AM
With Tower gone, I've lost the last remaining place where I could still reliably find zines. I think Tower going under is kind of a death blow to the few, remaining zines... there will probably always be a handful of people trading stuff through the mail, but the days of great and influential zines like Stay Free, Ben is Dead, etc., are long gone. The internet offers a lot of great stuff, but it's a very different experience. I'm glad to hear you'll still be online, but I am sad to see your zine go away along with so many other good ones.
Posted by: Ursula | Mar 12, 2007 6:05:55 AM
The first time I ever saw Stay Free was the green-covered Best Of issue ("Alive With Pleasure!") sitting on the shelves of Scratch Records in Vancouver 10 or 11 years ago--however long it's been. I bought the copy I found that day and I still have it. In fact, after I picked up that first issue I bought every new one I could get my hands on.
Five years back or so, I was editor of a monthly music magazine in here in Vancouver. I was pushing one of the writers to do an anti-advertising piece and they said, "Oh, like Adbusters?" and I replied, "God, no! Not like Adbusters, like THIS!" And I picked up the old copy of Stay Free I had resting beside my chair and forced it into their hands. I lent that issue and the rest of my collection to the writer who subsequently turned in a piece that was quite good.
In fact, over the years I've constantly maintained that Stay Free is what Adbusters aspires to be, if only they could tone down the graphics and crank up the investigation and intensity in their articles. And I've turned at least a few dozen people onto Stay Free over the years--as many as would listen.
In short, Stay Free did what it set out to: it made a difference. It made a difference to me and the way I see the world, and hopefully it made a difference to my friends that I introduced it to. Maybe it even made me a better writer and editor. I think it did.
Thanks for everything, and good luck.
Posted by: Chris | Mar 12, 2007 7:06:32 AM
"Obviously, there's the matter of owing subscribers for issues they'll never receive. I'm going to look into handing that money to a similar publication (Punk Planet? Mother Jones? Adbusters?), so you will get something."
If you aren't going to give people something that they paid for, you should give them their money back. Anything less simply makes you a common thief.
Posted by: Macon Stoneburner | Mar 12, 2007 10:25:05 AM
re: Macon Stoneburner's horrible comment:
i think i may be one of the people who has currently paid for more issues. i don't remember honestly, it's been a while. but personally, i don't think you owe me shit. the subscriptions were inexpensive, and if you stop producing, then so be it. things going out of business is a risk people take. if i buy a gift certificate and 8 months later the store goes under, it just sucks for me. they're not going to be all "oh, sorry, let us refund your money".
at any rate, i'm of course very sorry to hear the news. but like the others, i totally understand. best of luck with everything!
Posted by: daniel | Mar 12, 2007 11:01:40 AM
Thanks everyone for the kind words. It means a lot to me.
As for the "thief" accusation, magazine subscription swaps are standard in the biz. That said, any subscriber who wants their $3.50 to $7 back can get it back by asking: temporary181 (at) stayfreemagazine.org.
Posted by: carrie | Mar 12, 2007 11:06:12 AM
The King is dead. Long live The King. x
Posted by: Felix | Mar 12, 2007 11:17:01 AM
It's been a fantastic run. Stay Free! has been a constant cultural touchstone for me the last 14 (!) years, and I'm sad to see it go. But thanks for all your hard work and brilliance. I think, read, watch and consume more mindfully because of you.
Posted by: Jay | Mar 12, 2007 12:31:37 PM
As an old nerd, I will sorely miss Stay Free! There weren't many zines I was always delighted to come across on the newstands of my midwestern town, but Stay Free! was the best of them. I'm obviously online, and I'm sure I'll always read your blog, but there's just nothing like paper. You're right about small publishers and indy labels; small or used bookstores are becoming a thing of the past too, good newstands are history, alt distributors are going out of business, and the cool/weird little hobby or comics stores of my youth are extinct.
Thanks for your intelligence and devotion all these years!
Posted by: Dan in Milwaukee | Mar 12, 2007 12:39:00 PM
I'm sad to see you go. It was always exciting to see a new copy in Schoolkids during my years in Chapel Hill and I don't think there are many records I treasure more than the Evil Weiner/Spatula split. I admire your approach to pop culture; I'll be sure to stay a loyal reader online. Thanks for so many great issues.
Posted by: Kevin | Mar 12, 2007 1:20:32 PM
This is sad, but I understand the realities of the biz. (Every time I see an issue, I think something along the lines of "How does she manage to keep this thing afloat?") I'm glad the blog will continue.
(another longtime reader, who used to pick up SF! and Preparation X at the Schoolkids in Raleigh...)
Posted by: Vidiot | Mar 12, 2007 5:44:11 PM
Carrie, I've really enjoyed your 'zine, and I want to thank you for all the work you've put into it! FWIW, I used to pick up my copies at Wheatsville Co-op in Austin, and I used articles from your "Pranks" issue in an alternative media class I taught at the University of Texas. Best wishes on all of your future endeavors, and I hope you keep this blog going.
Posted by: McChris | Mar 12, 2007 6:20:45 PM
Sorry to hear this. Please feel free to add $pread Magazine to the list of publications willing to accept your subscribers. We'd be happy to honor any subscriptions you send us.
Posted by: Eliyanna | Mar 12, 2007 10:33:44 PM
I sympathize completely. Thank you for putting so much into it for so many years! You've done a terrific job.
Posted by: Jennie | Mar 12, 2007 10:43:55 PM
I'm sorry to hear that. I've always loved Stay Free!, I've read it for years and I'll miss the Hell out of seeing it. Like others, I absolutely understand why you would take this step, though I'm sad to see you doing so. Thank you for many years of publishing one of my all-time favorite magazines.
Posted by: mat honan | Mar 13, 2007 2:55:47 PM
A shame but I totally understand, I've very much enjoyed Stay Free, so many thanks for your hard efforts on it.
Intelligent and thoughtful but with a sense of humour which don't always hang out together.
Posted by: James | Mar 15, 2007 4:38:19 AM
ack carrie sorry to hear this!
Posted by: MIke J | Mar 15, 2007 3:18:59 PM
this is unfortunate, but i do understand. do you have any back issues for sale for those who might have missed some issues? i'm glad you're going to continue the blog! best...
Posted by: ang | Mar 16, 2007 1:42:18 AM
Yes, back issues are still for sale here. Thanks for asking, ang.
Posted by: Charles Star | Mar 17, 2007 2:07:31 AM
Got my first issue at a Negativland show and devoured it. I felt as if I'd finally found a publication that articulated my feelings about our commercialized society; revolted, but compelled to pay close attention. I'm very sorry to see the print mag go. I hope there are enough youngsters out there with enough righteous alienation to take up the torch.
Thanks for allowing me to make my meager contributions to the mag over the years (and for accepting my piece in the Illegal Art show in spite of our disagreements about its message). It was great to illustrate for a publication I actually respected for a change and it meant a lot to me.
Here's hoping you keep fighting the good fight however you can in the future. You should be proud of Stay Free! It really helped a lot of us feel we weren't completely fucking crazy.
Posted by: Ashley Holt | Mar 17, 2007 8:54:07 PM
I'm certainly sad to see SF! go - it was perhaps the only publication that I read cover to cover each issue. Well, here's to a great magazine and bigger and better things for Carrie.
Posted by: Zack | Mar 18, 2007 11:28:57 PM
Stay Free will be missed! But I can't wait to see where your energies go next. much respect, Margie
Posted by: margieb | Mar 22, 2007 5:54:28 PM
This is sad news--Stay Free was one of the best publications out there, and I learned a lot from it over the last six years. Thanks for keeping it alive as long as you did. It made a difference.
Posted by: Kate | Mar 24, 2007 12:04:13 PM
congratulations on a terrific run.
long live SF! Daily!
Posted by: vlorbik | Mar 28, 2007 1:56:14 PM