Official Harp statement about the end of the magazine

by Jason Gross

17 March 2008


OK, here’s the official word straight from editor Fred Mills.

Harp Magazine Discontinues Publishing after Seven-Year Run

March 17, 2008, Silver Spring, MD: Guthrie, Inc., the company that publishes Harp magazine, announced today that it has discontinued publishing Harp, effective immediately. The last issue sent to subscribers and newsstands was the March/April issue with Dave Grohl on the cover.

Founded in 2001 by editor-in-chief and art director Scott Crawford, the magazine entered into a partnership with the owners of JazzTimes in 2003. The result was a sophisticated rock and pop magazine that was critically acclaimed and well-respected in the music industry for its candor, style and breadth of coverage. The magazine’s web site——was also well-received. The site included nearly all of the magazine’s content, as well as daily news updates and special contests and promotions for music fans. There are no plans to continue publishing the magazine in digital form.

The first issue of Harp in the fall of 2001 featured a cover story on Alejandro Escovedo. Among the artists who subsequently graced the cover of Harp during the last 7 years were Grohl, Cat Power, Ryan Adams, Wilco, Bright Eyes, Nick Cave, The Stooges, Drive-By Truckers, My Morning Jacket, Liz Phair, Tom Waits, The Roots, Tom Petty, Neil Young, Neko Case, Modest Mouse, Jay Farrar, Mars Volta, Devendra Banhart, Steve Earle, Pete Yorn, and Howe Gelb. The magazine also did several Vanity Fair-style gatefold cover sessions, including the artists of Bonnaroo and “Rock of Ages” with pop icons and their mentors, and multi-artist conceptual covers like the recent “Kings of Comedy” edition.

However, according to Glenn Sabin, Guthrie’s CEO, the publication struggled to become profitable. “We purchased Harp in 2003, and it quickly became a first class product that was highly acclaimed for its often irreverent editorial approach and strong graphical package. Unfortunately, Harp’s critical acclaim never translated into sustaining commercial success. 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 and postage costs.”

Sabin saw Harp’s demise as reflective of the changes both in the music industry and in print consumer publishing. Sabin continued, “This story isn’t new. Print consumer publishing and the music industry are undergoing a revolutionary period. Legal digital sales are not even close to making up for the loss in physical product sales and the pervasiveness of illegal digital downloads. And with smaller revenues, labels are inevitably spending less money for print and other forms of advertising and promotion.”

Crawford, who provided the magazine with its creative vision, expressed his pride for what the magazine accomplished in his tenure as its editor-in-chief and art director. “We were able to establish a much-needed niche within the crowded marketplace. Ultimately we tried to create a magazine with substance and style—and on that level, I’d like to think we largely succeeded. I can’t thank our supportive advertisers and readers enough,” continues Crawford. “Your years of enthusiasm have always made Harp worth every last drop of blood, sweat and tears for all of us.”

Notable Harp Cover Features:

• June 2006: “Rock of Ages” ­ pairing iconic rock stars like Thurston Moore, Steve Earle, Michael Stipe, Conor Oberst, Emmylou Harris, Tom Verlaine and others with rising stars in a Vanity Fair-like gatefold cover captured by renowned photographer Danny Clinch.
• Sep 2007: “Kings of Comedy” ­ an ensemble cover article featuring Flight of the Conchords, David Cross, Patton Oswalt and Eugene Mirman—photographed
and interviewed together.
• March 2008: “Dave Grohl for President” ­ featuring a mock presidential run by the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl.

Fred Mills
Remote Editor At Large
(a/k/a The Artist Formerly Known As Harp Managing Editor)

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