The strange saga of the ‘Best Music Writing’ series


For music journalists, the annual “Best Music Writing” series was a rare chance to be celebrated by our peers (as opposed to our usual condition of socially isolated loathesomeness).

The book’s 2012 incarnation looked like it might take an exciting turn, with veteran critic Daphne Carr striking up a new publishing house via Kickstarter to collect great pieces from across the music-journalism spectrum. The Roots’ ?uestlove was even set to guest-edit it.

That is, until nothing happened. For months.

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The fine folks at Vice wondered what on earth became of the series and its more than $17,000 worth of supporter-funded pledges. H. Drew Blackburn gives a nice roundup of how a lot of fan goodwill went fallow, the BMW social media accounts went un-updated since 2012, and how Carr got deeply involved in the Occupy movement and became essentially unreachable until Vice ran its story.

In a subsequent piece, Carr finally responded to BMW supporters to formally say the delay was because of misjudging the amount of funds needed to actually buy rights to stories and republish them independently. The whole project has been killed, and Carr said she plans to return the money out of her own pocket to fans on an installment plan over the next three years.

“It was my grave error to think I could acquire and utilize a second, enormous skill set involved with production and publishing, especially given the time constraints,” Carr wrote. “That does not necessarily explain why it has taken additional time to write to you, but I hope you understand that this was due to a sort of panic about how to save the title. It is something I love and have held dear to me for my entire adult life. It is my profound sadness to have failed with it.”

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The Vice stories are a nice reminder that if there’s anyone you can trust with large sums of money and long-term project-executing acumen, it’s probably not a pop music critic (and you can trust us on that one).



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