After serving the music community for 14 years, the highly respected
underground magazine Option has closed shop and indefinitely
Publisher Scott Becker said shutting down the magazine's operations
after the July/August issue will afford him time to step away from the
periodical, which gained a solid reputation for helping bring attention
to some of today's most innovative artists, such as Stereolab, the Orb
and A Tribe Called Quest.
Saying he lost interest in the business end of the magazine, Becker said
he also plans to use the time to reassess his motivation and the
direction of the publication, and look at options for making a comeback
somewhere down the road.
"The drag was always running the venture as a business, however
progressive we tried to make it. I never forgot that we had to operate
in the real world," he said. "I just don't care for it very much."
Although expressing his frustration with the financial end of putting
together a magazine intended as a forum to share his enthusiasm for
music, Becker promised that the periodical, which he started out of his
bedroom in 1984, will return in some form.
"Our break is open-ended, but the magazine will still be called
Option when we return," Becker wrote in an e-mail. "This pause
represents a chance for me to do some thinking, sleeping, traveling,
chilling, recharging and f---ing off. It's a vacation for my head."
Option, based in Santa Monica, Calif., was the underground music
periodical readers could buy at most any local magazine shop. If you
wanted to find that limited-edition Merge 7-inch (only available on
vinyl) and didn't know of a store more exotic than Tower Records,
Option could tell you where to go.
It served as an invaluable resource for collectors, music-industry
insiders, college radio station staffers and garden-variety rock fans.
Longtime reader Windy Chien, co-producer of this year's eclectic
Terrastock music festival and owner of Aquarius Records, registered
surprise at the decision to shut down operations at Option.
"Option's been around for so long," Chien said. "It seemed like a
real alternative to Rolling Stone and Spin, but it played
on the same level. It was always glossy so it carried the same weight of
respectability. They turned me on to a lot of different bands,
especially because they always covered jazz and world music."
Option began with the idea of serving as an outlet to discuss
lesser-known bands, labels and types of music. Over the years, the
magazine's cover featured artists as diverse as hip-hop trio A Tribe
Called Quest, indie-noise rockers Sonic Youth, jungle music innovator
Goldie, electronica trailblazers the Orb and gritty punk-rocker Patti
"The whole point, from Day One until now, was to share my enthusiasm for
music which might otherwise be ignored," said Becker, "or to have a
forum where we could view interesting cultural trends or artists in a
Although the September/October issue of Option will not be published,
Becker plans a possible return to the magazine business, with more
immediate projects including a planned alt-rock book anthology, "We Rock
So You Don't Have To," slated for a Sept. 1 release by Incommunicado