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Next Up on Medium's List: A Music Magazine

Jann Wenner, meet Ev Williams.

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Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Medium, the startup led by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, is preparing its next foray into Web publishing: A digital magazine dedicated to stories about music.

Medium is readying a music publication that will launch next month, edited by Jonathan Shecter, best known as the co-founder of The Source, the pioneering hip-hop magazine. Shecter says he’ll be working with a range of writers, including venerable music critic Robert Christgau, who will be reviewing albums on the site.

Medium lets anyone publish on its platform, but also pays some writers to contribute; recently, it has started to pull together “hubs” grouped around themes.

Earlier this summer it launched Matter, which describes itself as “a magazine for a generation who grew up not caring about magazines.” The startup has also hired journalist Steven Levy to start a tech vertical. (UPDATE: Sports, too.)

Prior to joining Medium, Shecter had spent more than a decade in Las Vegas, immersed in its booming dance music scene. Most recently, he had been director of programming for the Wynn casinos’ high-end dance clubs; he said he met Williams while working there.

“A lot of people from the San Fran world come to Las Vegas, and a lot of them end up at the Wynn,” he said.

Music helps power lots of big digital operations (see: YouTube, Pandora, iTunes, Spotify, etc.), but sites that publish stories about music have struggled to find scale. One theory you hear a lot from smart people: Music isn’t a general interest category, like “sports” or “gossip,” but a very specialized one — it’s hard to get Taylor Swift fans to care about early De La Soul.

Then again, Medium, backed with $25 million in venture money and Williams’s halo, doesn’t seem to need scale at this point. And it’s specifically not chasing page views and visitors, but engagement, measured by “total time reading.”

So relatively modest verticals, supported by audiences that are willing to go deep, may work out just fine. Shecter says he’ll be aiming for that: “There is a loyal group of people that both love music and have the desire to explore their love of that music — to read about it, to talk about it. We’ll find them.”

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