December 17, 2009
The Beat Goes Off
Yes, The Beat is closing down. Hardly news in today's world where print publications are dying right and left. But it is harder to take when it is your very own magazine and your life's work for 28 years. Here's the official announcement:
Dear readers, friends, fans, contributors, colleagues, business associates, and to all it may concern in the reggae and world music world:
It is with a heavy heart that I make the official announcement that many of you have anticipated: The Beat magazine has ceased publication. The precipitous decline in the music business, publishing business and the economy has finally caught up with us after 28 years of existence.
The Beat began as a handmade fanzine, a true labor of love, run on a shoestring and blessed by the good will and volunteer contributions by many many people over the years, among them our devoted, highly talented writers, photographers, artists and graphic designers. It was kept alive and strong by subscribers, advertisers, music fans and musicians, and a valiant network of grassroots distributors, independent record stores and bookshops, as well as our mainstream distributor RCS and our wonderful printer American Web.
The Beat was unique, and it is really a miracle it survived as long as it did. In fact, each issue was a little miracle. Within its lifespan, we went from typewriters and typesetting, rubylith color separations, xacto knives and wax to the digital age. I learned, and loved, the editorial process and was always excited as the next issue's columns, reviews and features began to arrive, privileged to be the first to read the insights and opinions of our experts and basking in their company. Even though I have never personally met some of our far-flung contributors, many have become cherished, beloved friends who have taught me so much, enriching my life with humor, intelligence, and above all in sharing our common appreciation of the music.
Many people have suggested taking The Beat online to save it, but the advertising support is just not there, nor are other resources necessary to make it a successful transition. And to tell the truth, my heart is just not in it. The music, reggae in particular, has changed so much since the early days when it was new, fun, inspiring and creative, and there is so much less to say about it now.
There is one piece of news that will keep The Beat as we knew it alive for the future. An information resource company called Proquest that provides databases of periodicals to libraries and research institutions will include the entire print edition of The Beat in the International Index to Music Periodicals and Ethnic NewsWatch databases in 2010. The Beat's back issues will then be available to the public online at any library that subscribes to these services.
Meanwhile, I have opened a Web log so we can say farewell to our readers-- and they to us-- at ByeByeBeat.blogspot.com. Perhaps that will evolve into an online community of music fans, and an open forum for more people to share their passion for world music as our writers have done for the past 28 years. Also you can post comments on Myspace at http://myspace.com/getthebeat and there is a discussion board on "The Beat Magazine" page on Facebook. We won't be taking any more subscriptions, obviously, but back issues will be available for a little while longer at getthebeat.com .
To the hundreds of people who helped make The Beat the amazing preeminent international world music magazine that it was: Thank you from the bottom of my heart. There are too many to thank individually here, but I must give my deepest gratitude and love to Roger Steffens, who was the genesis of the whole thing half a lifetime ago on "The Reggae Beat" radio program, and my intrepid assistant Carol Haile Selassie, whose extraordinary, determined efforts over the last 15 years kept The Beat--and me--going.
As for me, I will be putting my house/office up for sale and leaving California where I have lived for 30 years. An African proverb says "When one door close, another one go open." I'm looking forward to seeing where my next path will take me. Stay tuned, and keep checking the ByeByeBeat blog for updates.
Minister of Information
Dec. 20, 2009