Hard Rain Continues To Fall for Titles Covering Indie, Alternative Music
Sorry to hear that Harp magazine bit the dust last week, during the SXSW Festival, which was arguably Harp's ultimate comfort zone.
Harp trafficked in covering the artists most often heard on Triple-A and Americana stations. So, if you were into the likes of Ryan Adams, Wilco, Bright Eyes and My Morning Jacket, chances are you'd be into Harp.
Which makes me feel a little guilty, in that I used to subscribe, but faced with a never-ending time crunch found I could only read one music magazine with regularity. And I chose Paste, in part because it also offered a free CD with every issue. Paste covers a lot of the same musical ground, though it ventures a little further afield with books and movie coverage.
However, my patronage ultimatley didn't seal Harp's fate so much as the turbulence in the music business that's been roiled by declining CD sales, cheap digital downloads and illegal file sharing. That meant labels weren't spending on ads like they used to.
Harp also appealed to working musicians, but advertising for music software and the like cratered as well.
"Unfortunately, Harp's critical acclaim never translated into sustaining commercial success," says Glenn Sabin, CEO of Guthrie, Harp's publisher.
And for those who kept in touch with Harp via its Web site, alas, that won't be around much longer either.
Magazine Death Pool notes Harp unfortunately has some company in this genre, after Resonance and No Depression announced plans earlier this year to fold, and comes about two years after yet another indie-rock mag, Tracks, shut down.
There's actually plenty of depression to go around among publishers. If you read the magazines'e farewell notes, they turn out to be ever-so-slight variations on the same, lamentable theme.
As the costs of paper, printing, distribution and marketing soar, while advertising and circulation stagnate or slip and credit lines vanish entirely, look for others like them to pen their farewells sooner than later.