The triple-A-centric music magazine Harp shut its doors last spring after its parent company went Chapter 7, and an online-only publication with much of the same staff, Blurt, sprouted up shortly after. Blurt‘s online presence is similar in target demo to Harp‘s, bringing together blogs, online radio, a message board, and a “digital magazine” that mimicks the print experience via a Flash interface. So what’s the next logical (yet somewhat illogical when you think about the way the current climate treats music, reading, and paying for the privilege of doing either) step? How about… a print magazine?
“It’s sort of a new paradigm,” Crawford told FOLIO:. “We’ve gotten to the point of wanting a physical product to help brand the site—we want it to be the ‘soul’ of the Web site in print.”
The quarterly magazine—with nearly half the circulation (30,000) Harp had—is slated to be launched in March and carry a $4.95 cover price.
But Crawford doesn’t expect it to be a huge seller at the newsstand. “The newsstand is a mess right now,” he said.
Last March, Guthrie Inc., the parent company of Harp, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. At the time, Guthrie CEO Glenn Sabin said Harp had struggled to become profitable since the company’s purchase of the magazine in 2003.
“Unfortunately, Harp’s critical acclaim never translated into sustaining commercial success,” he said. “Harp’s lifecycle was ill-timed with the precipitous decline of the music software industry, coupled with the consolidation of the consumer magazine newsstand business and rising paper postage costs.”
Ryan over at Catbirdseat is thinking that maybe this is just an attempt to apply the “digital first, physical second” model to print, and it could very well be. But will people be willing to fork over $5 for this publication, even if it’s really nicely designed and on fancy paper stock? (And I guess give that the newsstand is a “mess,” another question should be, “How will people be able to find out about the magazine’s existence if they’re not already reading the Web site?”)