Bluegrass Now – now online

Bluegrass Now - now onlineWe heard last week that bluegrass print magazine Bluegrass Now had made the decision to abandon the physical print format in favor of an online only distribution model.

The magazine has been in print for 18 years, having begun in 1990. The print edition has always been beautifully done with attractive graphics and nice glossy paper. Starting in May, you won’t be able to hold it in your had again. The May 2008 issue will be a landmark edition as the magazine ceases publication of the print edition entirely, and becomes totally electronic.

The press release describes a two year research effort prior to making this decision.

The decision comes after two years of researching marketing trends in the entertainment industry, amassing and studying data regarding the reading habits and preferences of consumers, consulting with a cross-section of major magazine publishers nationwide, and soliciting input from our current readership.

Although this decision was initially quite difficult for a retired academic who has lived by the printed word for more than half a century, I am truly excited about being in the vanguard of multimedia publishing in the bluegrass community.

The new, online only, Bluegrass Now should feel familiar to subscribers, as it retains all the elements of the print version: cover story, features, charts, reviews and regular columns. But the publishers plan to enhance the publication to take advantage of interactive features offered by the online presence.

…as readers explore the site, they’ll discover that our stories have been enhanced with audio and video clips. They’ll be able to hear samples of songs when they read reviews, and invited to contribute their own reviews if they desire. Readers will be invited to participate in our new “Fans’ Choice Music Chart,” as they cast a vote for their favorite song and artist of the month. All ads will carry hyperlinks for additional information and connection. Our readers will be delighted by virtual tours of festival sites around the world that explore what makes each festival a unique cultural experience.

Wayne Bledsoe, one of the publication’s editors, tells me that some of the content will be available free, to all who visit the site, while subscribers will have access to premium content.

Non-subscribers will be able to access all the charts (Fans’ Choice Top 20 Chart, DJ Hot Picks, Gospel Truths, Coming Attractions–Band Itineraries, ).

They will have access to all the links: Bands, Festivals, and Product Links

The Cover Story, Features and Columns they will be able to read about a third of the copy on each.

Unlike the printed issue we will be able to maintain Festival Calendar for the entire year online. Non-subscribers will be able to access the Festival Calendar, but won’t be able to access the “Virtual Tours” we’ll be doing with select festivals internationally.

As with the print version, editorial content will updated once monthly. Other special features, such as the virtual tours and breaking news, will updated throughout the month as they happen.

The format of the online magazine will take two forms. One option will be a text only format with graphics. This format is intended for those who are primarily interested in reading the content. Without graphics and other high bandwidth content embedded, the text only version should load very quickly in the user’s browser.

The second format will be more interactive, featuring all the graphics and additional content, such as audio and video, accompanying each article and feature. This version will operate much like a traditional magazine, with an index page at the beginning that will link to each article. The articles will be presented in page format very similar to a print magazine. The reader will “turn the page” by clicking on the top, bottom or sides of the page. There will be navigational links on every page allowing the reader to quickly return to the front index.

Bledsoe feels confident that the future is bright for Bluegrass Now.

Based on recent activity the subscriber base will increase. We are in the process of contacting all of our subscribers and so far, only a small portion have indicated that they lack the ability to access an electronic magazine.

Currently an online subscription costs $12 per year.