Longtime San Francisco music blog and nonprofit The Bay Bridged announced last week that it will cease operations Oct. 1.
“From the bottom of our hearts, thank you all for listening along with us and supporting our organization for the last decade and a half,” the publication wrote in a statement on its site.
The nonprofit began in 2006 when roommates Christian Cunningham and Ben Van Houten created a podcast to champion the local music scene. Over the years, it ballooned into an award-winning blog with widely read feature articles, music video premieres, show reviews, and artist profiles. Original content from The Bay Bridged has been featured in national publications like Pitchfork and Rolling Stone.
Many budding journalists published their first bylines on thebaybridged.com, and the site gave now-acclaimed artists — including Thee Oh Sees and The Dodos — some of their earliest press.
As The Bay Bridged grew, it never lost sight of its core mission to make music accessible to all.
It hosted festivals including The Bay Brewed, Rock Make Street Festival, and Phono Del Sol, and worked with sponsors to ensure that its live music events were affordable and open to patrons of all ages.
Jody Amable, content director at The Bay Bridged (and an SF Weekly contributor), told KQED that reduced advertising revenue during COVID cemented the organization’s demise. But even before the pandemic, readers were increasingly turning to curated Spotify playlists instead of blogs to find new music, and a change in Facebook’s algorithm emphasized video content over articles. Amable said these changes hindered The Bay Bridged.
The founders’ professional and personal obligations also made it difficult to run the organization, Cunningham told KQED. Cunningham is a father and works full time as a principal scientist at Genetech, while Van Houten works as a business developer for San Francisco’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. And as writers and artists relocate to cities with cheaper rents, Cunningham said he often could not find replacements.
The Bay Bridged’s announcement comes in the wake of a seismic shift in the media landscape. As massive corporations and hedge funds subsume small outlets, local publications are floundering. In recent years, the Bay Area lost several publications including The San Francisco Bay Guardian and Art Practical, while SFMOMA just announced that it will no longer publish Open Space.“While I’m of course sad to be closing the book on an incredibly fulfilling chapter in my life, I am so enormously proud of the work our staff has done and the community we’ve contributed to over the years,” Amable told SF Weekly in an emailed statement. “As individuals, we will still be around. The majority of us got into this because we were local music fans first. There’s no doubt you’ll be seeing us at the show [sic] soon.”