As many print publications find themselves in a business model crisis, and the blogosphere, as I write this, buzzing with the latest “Can Classical Music Be Saved?” debate, the online classical music retailer ArkivMusic (now owned by Steinway) is starting a bimonthly print magazine. (Read press release.)
LISTEN: Life with Classical Music will be published every other month for $14.85 per year plus shipping. Per the press release, the magazine will be editorially independent from the retailing business, but the retailing customer base will be used as a marketing channel for the magazine.
Can LISTEN make money?
“Millions of people across North America have an interest in, even a passion for, classical music, and yet the genre has all but disappeared from the mainstream media,” stated ArkivMusic President Eric Feidner. “Just because the large corporations that control what we are exposed to on TV, radio and in print can’t find a way to make money in the genre doesn’t mean there isn’t any interest. There is considerable demand for a publication that caters to and cultivates the interest of this significant population.”
Feidner is confident that a print magazine is viable even in today’s challenged economic marketplace. “We’ve been running online companies since 1995 and know full well how it has revolutionized our lives in countless ways. However, there is still a place for quality print publications and, in our specific circumstance, we are servicing a population that has been starved for many years.
That’s obviously a) all true and b) marketing “blah-blah-blah” that should be taken with a grain of salt.
It’s unclear how much of the magazine will be available online, since only the debut issue is available and the current website only lets you:
- Browse the promising-looking table of contents
- Subscribe to the print magazine
- Email a letter to the editor
- Buy recordings discussed in the magazine through convenient links back to the ArkiveMusic.com store.
Maybe it’s better to view this as a marketing channel for the retail store rather than an exercise in journalism business models. In terms of content, LISTEN is clearly going to be a combination of classical music, lifestyle and product promotion similar to British classical magazines like Gramaphone and BBC Music — albeit with an emphasis on the magazine’s own sister retailing channel.