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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:


BYE-BYE BEAT

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.

CC Smith
Minister of Information
Glendale CA
Dec. 20, 2009

10 comments:

  1. CC,

    I'm very sorry to learn of this. It seems like the writing has been on the wall for a while, so to speak, but that doesn't make it any easier.

    Thanks to you and Roger and Carol for everything you've done, including giving me the chance to contribute over the years.

    Walk Good,

    Carter Van Pelt

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  2. Very sad news CC,

    Writing the Moroccan Roll column for The Beat has been a labor of love and a damn lot of fun. I'll miss it.

    Thank you for your humor, support and valiant efforts to keep The Beat afloat. They've been appreciated.

    I think digital traces of The Beat will be scattered around the beat-o-sphere for a long time. I've archived my handful of columns (since March 08) @ http://bit.ly/8Zhfto.

    Jeffrey Callen

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  3. Dear CC

    Very sad news - but like you said the whole process is like a miracle!!! Even after the earthquake you got a issue out on time!!!You and all the people at The Beat have done great works over they years - A door can be closed - but not locked. Remember that Grasshopper....
    Ray
    Small Axe
    Inna very cold London

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  4. Very sad to hear that The Beat has stopped publication. I was a subscriber between 1988 and 2007, and I learnt a lot about reggae music and other musical forms by reading such columns as "Reggae Update", "Reggae Obession", and "The Other Caribbean".
    The journalism and the scholarship were always impeccable, and the presenation faultless.
    I really think that The Beat should go online and start a new life as a webzine. Long live The Beat.

    Eric Doumerc

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  5. Sad news indeed. First started reading The Beat back in the late 80s, while living in NYC. Missed a couple years while I taught in Liberia, but started my subscription when I moved to Istanbul. It was a great source for Reggae-related retailers when I added a shop to a club I ran there in the early 90s. Loved reading the playlists for Roger and Hank's show. First saw Papa Pilgrim's call for Reggae Ambassadors in the advertising section, which had such am impact on my life in later years. And a few years later, after moving to Guam, I actually co-wrote a column until the mag went glossy. I've saved every issue I've ever received and ordered back issues of ones I didn't. Have made a lot of wonderful friends directly and indirectly through The Beat, and lathough the magazine will end, those friendships will not. Give thanks for everything over the years. Much love! Forward....Jah Son inna Guam

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  6. CC, all the very best in your future---'The Reggae Beat' was the first national publication I placed in our store in St. Louis, and through the years
    your dedication speaks for itself. I was hoping some talented young-blood music fanatics would sweep in and assist in getting this publication on-line, and the current conditions for any music publication is a barrel of butcher-knives to be sure...but praise and respect to The Beat, and all my respect for your efforts.

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  7. Sorry to hear that The Beat is beat. I've read and enjoyed it since issue #2 I think it was. Well, I did miss a copy or two over the years. Best wishes to you and all the writers in the future. May the music remain strong.

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  8. When I first saw The Reggae and African Beat, I was SO impressed that I sent in $100.00 for subscriptions for many friends, some for two year periods, and some foreign ones, and that was at the very olow subscription rates of the early 1980's. Jah bless you and the music. May it remain strong as inspired by Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Joe Higgs, Ras Michael and many others. May we also honor the elders who made it all happen, such as David Isaacs of the Itals who just passed on to his reward.

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  9. Thank you for your wonderful work. It was always a pleasure to receive my copy (when I did not forget to renew my subscription!), read about the latest records out of Jamaica, Africa and elsewhere. When my TABOU1 label was alive, I was able to afford buying ad space a couple of times. We met in Germany once during a Womex (I think!) and I remember a long discussion!!! These were the days.

    Take care and may Jah or whatever His name is guide and protect you.

    Love

    Guillaume Bougard

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  10. Big up any time !
    I started to read The Beat in the late 80's and always looked forward to its new issues. It had become increasingly tough to find it in France, so I lost touch gradually but will always have fond memories of writings like Jamaican Obsession, Mr Marlon's stint on dancehall, Brian Dring's Other Caribbean an many other works about certain music genres i wasn't always so versed in, which also enabled me to look beyond my own "Jamaican obsession" !
    I will always have fond memories of knowledgeable writers who more often than not had style and a serious sense of humour, who also didn't feel compelled to follow any hype. My main gripe will always remain "too much Marley stuff", but hey, all the rest always more than made up for it ! Also thanks for allowing me to contribute to a dancehall issue.
    All the best for your future ventures.
    PS : Not too sure we'll manage to get so much indepth stuff in the so far mostly disappointing (imho) world of the reggae web. The Beat was never about hypes, a rare thing these days.

    Ever Rey D,
    Ragga / Reggae Vibes magazine, France
    Keeping the reggae press alive against all odds.

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