Offbeat’s Alex Rawls:
Onward and Upward

Local music geeks know Alex Rawls as the Editor of Offbeat, and as a publicist I still get requests to pitch music and events to him.

Let me start off by saying, as I have been informing my circle of friends for weeks, that Rawls has left his post of the last six years. Why am I writing about him, you may ask? Rawls transplanted to New Orleans to attend UNO in ’88, the same year Offbeat printed its first issue – and like many have been inclined to do in this ever-evolving music landscape, he is taking a risk with a new endeavor, and for that I applaud him.

To give some context, and to backup my above recognition, Rawls became a contributor to Offbeat in 1997, when he was primarily crafting reviews of local writers and books, before moving into the role of a rock columnist in 2000. It was four years later when he was offered a job as Music Editor for Gambit, but after Hurricane Katrina left that publication with a skeleton staff, he only continued as a freelancer. 2006 saw his return to Offbeat, this time as its Editor.

Just after the magazine’s June 2012 issue, Rawls released an open letter discussing his departure, and that he was working on a new music media outlet—MySpiltMilk.com.

“It was a practical issue. The downside of editing [Offbeat.com’s] web presence is that it’s time consuming and labor intensive. The amount of time I had to write and tell stories was diminishing, and it was really very clear that that wasn’t going to change anytime soon. As proud as I was of my time at Offbeat, I wanted to write.

Offbeat has 25 years of people it has covered. One of the things we would always have to consider is, “Has this person ever done the cover before?,” “When was the last time they were on the cover?,” “Does this person have any priority next to that person?” – all very reasonable concerns that every publication faces. As an essentially new website with no particular history, the deck’s wide open for me. It frees me up a lot.”

On Monday, MySpiltMilk announced its alliance with three other local publications: NOLA Defender, The Lens, and Uptown Messenger – all hyperlocal online outlets, which the site calls an effort to “strengthen New Orleans’ independent online digital news options.”

“The New Orleans Digital News Alliance, like everybody, is pretty disappointed in Nola.com as a platform. People are going to be looking for alternatives. I think between the four of us, we do a pretty good job of offering a meaningful alternative to what was once the Metro section, and what once would have been a Living section, you know? We offer people a healthy independent local online alternative. These are our communities we’re talking about, the people we live around, the arts we live around. It’s how we interact with our neighborhoods. It just makes good sense.”

On Rawls’ new creation, you can hear “This Week’s Soundtrack,” featuring a preview of artists who are soon making stops in New Orleans. There’s also “Free Milk” (free downloads), “Sour Milk” (showcasing disappointments in our city, this author concludes), and “The Milk Run” (Rawls’ recommendations of what to do/see/hear in New Orleans). And if the entire concept of MySpiltMilk wasn’t already cute and quirky enough, the weekly newsletter is dubbed “Condensed Milk.” Does a body good, anyone?

“There is so much creativity, so many people who don’t just play well, but there’s also a lot of great ideas and adventure, all across the board. It’s a great time to be writing about New Orleans music.”

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