There are pockets of hope out there though. For a while now I’ve been telling friends and colleagues about one publication that I read that seems to have found a winning formula.
The Fretboard Journal started life as a high-quality quarterly magazine featuring beautiful photography and well-written articles by people passionate about music. Now in its fifth year, it remains that today, but the FJ team has augmented the magazine with a variety of online activities that support the printed product, build a community of passionate readers, and make real offline connections.
- There’s a monthly email newsletter to subscribe to on their home page. Perhaps that’s a little quaint in the Internet of the 21st century, but I devour it as eagerly as I do the quarterly print magazine.
- FJ is active on Twitter via both a @fbjournal and, somewhat more erratically, individual staff accounts. They’ve also created Twitter lists related to various fretted instruments. Nice!
- I have to confess that I make little use of Facebook these days. In fact, the main reason that I check in is to see FJ updates — there’s a steady stream of announcements and pointers to YouTube videos.
- The FJ podcast (also on iTunes) is an audio treat, with the focus being great conversations with a variety of musicians, luthiers, music store owners, and other folks. It has been weekly in the past, but seems to be on hiatus right now.
- The FJ blog was far more active in the early days, and seems to have been supplanted by other activities. Still, it’s a presence. Of course, there’s also a website.
Is this a formula that can support a business? As it turns out, a new issue of The Fretboard Journal arrived in my mailbox while I had this post in draft form. It included the following from editor Marc Greilsamer in his ‘Opening Notes’ column:
It seems that the death of the magazine industry is upon us, or so we’ve been told by whatever media outlets still remain. But while it’s certainly true that many publications — young and old, big and small — seem to be falling by the wayside, The Fretboard Journal somehow continues to grow. For that we only have our wonderful readers (and fellow tribesmen) to thanks.