New student magazine corners music niche

by Katy Rushlau / Beacon Staff • September 6, 2012

Verrill musicmag
Maria Spiridigliozzi, Ashley Alongi, and Melanie Cohen hope to provide practical experience for amateur music journalists.
Maria Spiridigliozzi, Ashley Alongi, and Melanie Cohen hope to provide practical experience for amateur music journalists.

Publications spotted on campus cover everything from fashion to literature to film. But for junior Maria Spiridigliozzi an important topic was missing. 

Spiridigliozzi, a journalism major, collaborated with fellow juniors Melanie Cohen and Ashley Alongi, to start Chaos Magazine, a publication that will focus solely on music.  

“Music is the one thing that isn’t really covered in magazines on campus. Entertainment publications are usually more focused on film or television,” said Alongi, a writing, literature, and publishing major and the Assistant Editor of Chaos Magazine.  “And for a school with two great radio stations and tons of music enthusiasts, it seems crazy that it isn’t featured.”

The newest feather in Emerson’s extracurricular cap is set to launch in November and will hopefully turn into a bi-semester publication, said Spiridigliozzi, the future editor-in-chief. The content will focus on music in the Boston area, with sections for local music, upcoming events, reviews, features, and artist profiles, said Spiridigliozzi.

Spiridigliozzi, who is a producer for Emerson’s radio station WERS, said that the first issue will feature both print and online content and could eventually expand into multimedia with podcasts and videos. The print version, according to Spiridigliozzi, will have a grungy look, emulating a 90’s “slopped-together-in-the-basement” magazine.

Chaos is currently accepting applications through a Facebook event, and already has accumulated 40 applicants, said Spiridigliozzi. Spiridigliozzi plans to have a large staff, with five writers and two editors for each of the five sections. Board positions will also be available for editorial, artistic, marketing, and copyediting. 

Cohen, who will serve as the marketing director, said that Chaos is meant to fill a void left by Emerson’s current magazines and publications. 

“Music is what is missing,” said the marketing major. “We have so many great [publications] at Emerson but none that have that focus.”

According to the 2012-2013 course catalogue, Emerson offers one music journalism course.  Jamie Loftus, who recently applied for the magazine, said music journalism is a main topic Emerson’s clubs and curricula neglect.

“I love to learn about new music, attend shows, and generally photograph and develop my own take on the Boston music scene,” said the visual and media arts major. “With so many great venues around us and tickets that students can afford, it would be a waste for colleges to pass up an opportunity to comment on the scene around us and develop an interesting perspective.”

The direct focus of the magazine seems to attract potential staff members, according to applicant Ana Ryden. The freshman visual and media arts major said she thinks a distinct topic is ideal for people who want to learn more.

“Starting a magazine solely created with music in mind is great for people like me who want one place to learn,” said Ryden. “There are plenty of other very popular music magazines, but even those tend to become littered with pointless information about [relationships] or what cereal Oprah enjoys eating on Sunday mornings.”

Applicant Jacob Sigler echoed the praise for a direct focus but was also mindful of the negatives it could have on circulation. 

“I do think it is important for a magazine to have a direct focus,” said the freshman writing, literature, and publishing major. “However, it can also be bad for popularity. If somebody doesn’t like music, there is no way that they would even bother looking at this magazine.” 

With interviews set up and first stories primed for assignment, Spiridigliozzi, Cohen, and Alongi are setting long-term goals for their publication. The group expressed interest in becoming SGA recognized, according to Spiridigliozzi, who said the organization will apply for funding in the spring. The funds, she said, would allow them to finance a full print version. In the meantime, the magazine will rely on fundraisers and staff donations.

Spiridigliozzi said she hopes Chaos Magazine will become one of Emerson’s sustained publications. 

“Hopefully, the magazine will outlast me; when I graduate, it will continue running.” said Spiridigliozzi. “I want to put something new on the scene so people can learn about music and have a venue to write about it.”