Double Bassist Magazine, the United Kingdom publication that has provided quality content about the double bass for the past decade, will be ceasing production after their Winter 2008 issue. I’m a longtime reader of Double Bassist, and though I’ve never been a subscriber (a subscription to this bimonthly magazine cost as much as a yearlong membership in the International Society of Bassists), I would frequently pick up a copy at my local Barnes & Noble or Borders bookstore, reading the articles with great interest and pleasure. The European orientation of much of the content was a welcome change to me, and I really enjoyed reading this publication. Thought the publication states that it will become a part of The Strad after this upcoming issue, one wonders just how much double bass content will carry over to The Strad. Very little, I’m sure.
The production value on this magazine was quite high, and it was the only magazine that one could find about this noble instrument on the shelves of bookstores. Losing this magazine means even less exposure for our instrument in traditional media outlets–not that we had much exposure to begin with. I firmly believe that our future lies in the online world (with its low production costs and great creative possibilities), and the demise of this magazine only affirms this belief. The contemporary magazine business is brutal, especially for niche content. Production costs are high, subscription sales and retail distribution is challenging, and profits are often razor thin. Combining an online model with a membership package offering a suite of associated benefits is looking more and more like the best option for non-mainstream content, Membership allows for a base level of income, which can then be used to fund interesting projects for the member base. Online publication allows for a dizzying array of content options while keeping production costs low. Print publication are learning this lesson the hard way as downsizing creeps across the industry.
I was featured twice in Double Bassist in 2007, first with my story about auditioning for the (now defunct) San Jose Symphony, and later that year for a piece titled ‘Poducation’ which covered my exploits into the world of musical and educational podcasting. I actually have a third submission for this publication that I am in the middle of writing–I suppose that I’d better table that and find a different journal suitable for this new article!
This leaves the ISB’s publication Bass World as the only print magazine devoted to double bassists. Since the cost of a membership (with many other associated benefits) is the same as a subscription to Double Bassist Magazine, former subscribers may want to consider joining the ISB to continue to receive a print publication devoted to the double bass.