As Seb Wheeler swaps Mixmag for Defected, are things going to get any better for the beleaguered dance magazine under new stewardship?

Things have not been good for Mixmag for some time. Their print edition continues to be on a coronavirus imposed hiatus, with all the lucrative advertising revenue that the print format can surprisingly attract. And now they are without an editor.

Yes, Seb Wheeler, the editor of their digital output for several years now, has jumped ship. Exactly who will replace him has not been announced at the time of writing, but this currently means that Mixmag has no editor for its digital product or print one.

So where is Wheeler off to? He’s heading off to Defected, the new colonialists of house music. His job is to lead the digital marketing team – given the job of promoting Defected mostly involves writing “in house music we are all equal” in the ITC Avant Garde typeface, his new job shouldn’t be too taxing.

As for Mixmag, what’s next? Wheeler leaves behind a pretty unremarkable legacy – the magazine is increasingly known online for its clickbait headlines and doom-laden articles. These may generate clicks and controversy, but they offer nothing new to club culture or anything else they were originally set up to cover.

Barely a word gets written about the underground movements trying to get off the ground. Issues like the gentrification of dance music and plague raves certainly don’t merit a mention. And on the weekend, there’s no one in the office!

It doesn’t help that Mixmag is a tired brand in desperate need of refreshment and new energy. Don’t take my word for it – previous print editor Duncan Dick openly states this on his LinkedIn page. Great journalism is the exception, rather than the rule – and these stories are invariably almost never followed up.

At a time when dance music needs someone standing up for its interests and defending its culture arguably more than ever before, Mixmag has been – quite simply – found wanting. The only question now is what are they going to do about it?

They could do worse than turn to Kwame Safo, known otherwise by his alias Funk Butcher. His Blackout edition was one of the best in many years. It showed courage, guts and a fearless spirit – exactly what Mixmag needs if it’s to have any chance of survival in the future.

Because believe it or not, the reason I criticise Mixmag so harshly is because I want them to do their job better. Dance music needs big representation keeping an eye on the scene and speaking truth to power. Most of these voices have disappeared in the past few years, and a lack of scrutiny is bad for the whole scene.

Will they take a leap of faith, or are they too concerned about upsetting the powers that be? We shall soon find out.

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