Scope and arrangement
In addition to documenting the production of a magazine, the Ear Magazine Records offer an account of the new music scene in America during the 1980s. The Artist Files describe the type of musician that was active in the scene, and the Subscription series identifies the audience. The strongest portion of the collection is from 1987-1991, or the time period when the magazine operated under Ear, Inc. There are some significant files from the earlier years when it was a part of the New Wilderness Foundation, particularly in the Production Files, and Fundraising series. The only information about the years 1973-1976 is found in interviews or other descriptions of the magazine’s history, rather than primary documents. The collection does not include much interoffice correspondence, such as memoranda, but there are many notes from meetings and other informal sessions. It also does not contain complete issues of the magazine, with the exception of damaged copies, and the final supplement, which was not widely distributed.
The Ear magazine records are arranged in eleven series:
- 1975 - 1992, undated2.5 linear feet (5 boxes
Ear magazine's office files consist of items central to the organization, such as Board of Directors' meeting minutes, and staff-related records. A significant part of the series documents the Spring Street Tenants Joint Venture, in which a group of arts organizations, including Ear, moved into a shared space at 131 Varick Street, New York, NY in 1989.
- 1962; 1977 - 1992, undated6 linear feet (12 boxes
This series focuses on the production of Ear magazine, and includes a wealth of information about the magazine's contents. Noteworthy files include: Absolut CD project, Artwork, Correspondence, Issues, Printers and printing of magazine, Record Reviews, and Writers. Correspondence is arranged chronologically to allow it to follow the magazine's evolvement. The main difference between the correspondence from contributors and the general category is that these folders were originally separate in Ear's files (however, the general folders will contain some contributors and vice versa). The Issues are also chronological, or rather, by volume number.
- 1972 - 1992, undated4.5 linear feet (9.25 boxes
The artist files collected by Ear contain primarily professional information about musicians and other performance-based artists. Photographs, press releases, résumés or vitae, and clippings constitute the majority of these files. For help identifying the contents of the general alphabetical folders, see the artist index in Box 18, folder 1.
- 1980 - 1992, undated1.75 linear feet (3.75 boxes
This series provides information on the distribution of Ear magazine, including circulation figures and shipping details. The majority of the series falls under the distributor level, which contains information about where Ear was sold, who was selling it, and how many copies were sold at each location. Other important folders include lists and invoices (Box 29, folder 13), and notes (Box 29, folders 17, 18).
- 1980 - 1991, undated4 linear feet (8.5 boxes
Ear's advertising records show how the magazine evolved during the 1980s. The series consists of client files, which trace Ear's relationship with various companies and advertising agencies. Folders without notes generally contain invoices and supporting information about the ad. Of note are the three folders of logs (Box 37, folders 6-8), which show advertising revenue per issue. The set of folders under the mailing lists is notable for the range of different contacts. Some of this information may not be directly related to advertising, but the staff pursued various resources and people in an effort to establish the magazine in both the music and publishing worlds.
- 1977 - 19921.5 linear feet (3 boxes
This series contains a considerable number of reports created to track Ear's accounts and expenses, specifically after the magazine became a non-profit corporation in 1987. These reports are found under fiscal year, which is organized chronologically. For information prior to 1987, see the folders titled "Early records," and "New Wilderness Foundation" (Box 39, folder 6, and Box 41, folder 6, respectively). Also of note is the business plan drafted in 1986 as preparation for the magazine's separation from its parent organization.
- 1976 - 1992, undated3.5 linear feet (7 boxes
The three main components of this series are benefits, correspondence, and grants. The benefits are arranged chronologically, and contain information about parties hosted by Ear to raise money. The correspondence folders are notable for the examples of solicitations made by Ear to various celebrities and other individuals or corporations. Government grants were a major funding source for Ear, and the applications include a significant amount of background material about the magazine's history, its projects, and its finances. Please note that while the foundation files appear extensive, the information is generally of a lesser nature, in the form of annual reports or form letters, and there is little relevance to Ear.
- 1979 - 19921 linear foot (2 boxes
There are two types of projects found in this series. One concerns any kind of activity that Ear participated in as a magazine, or connected itself to for promotional purposes. The second type occurred primarily in 1991 as the magazine found itself in financial duress, and looked for ways to keep the Ear name alive (if not the publication). An example of the first type is the number of different radio programs Ear created or participated in during the 1980s. The latter type is best exemplified in Box 48, folders 8, and 10, which respectively deal with fundraising and management of the magazine.
- 1978 - 19927.5 linear feet (15 boxes
This series features a complex arrangement scheme, due to the varied ways that Ear staff filed subscription forms. Rather than combine all forms into one alphabetical sequence, there are several different alphabetical sets, which were determined by the date span of the forms. In addition, other forms were found in separate folders labeled, for example, "new" or "Canada." A notable group of forms is for libraries, which includes many academic institutions. Please also note that the correspondence folders are arranged chronologically, due to the multitude of requests and other general letters.
- 1972 - 1992, undated3 linear feet (6 boxes
Although this series is extensive in the number of subjects it covers, the amount of information varies considerably. Much of the content is in the form of press releases or other media kits; rather, there is little unique material. One exception may be in the set of folders for the New Music America festivals, where Ear had some involvement (particularly the 1990 festival in Montreal).
- 1977 - 1991, undated2 linear feet (1 box
The majority of this series is oversized production-related items, such as photographs and artwork. Of note are the veloxes, which include images of Laurie Anderson and Robert Wilson, and were used on covers of the magazine.