Electronic Sound Magazine Launches Kraftwerk Crowd-funding Campaign
Acclaimed independent digital magazine Electronic Sound is offering a limited edition clear vinyl seven-inch single, featuring a musical collaboration between Wolfgang Flür (Kraftwerk) and Jack Dangers (Meat Beat Manifesto), to subscribers who sign up to their Kickstarter campaign in the next week (click here to support)
Skrufff chatted to Electronic Sound editor Push (renowned for founding seminal 90s club culture magazine Muzik magazine) about both the single (called Staying in the Shadows) and the increasingly perilous state of the music magazine market for veteran titles.
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): Why the decision to go monthly: just how big a leap is it in practical/ risk terms?
Electronic Sound (Push): “We knew we wanted go monthly from the beginning, it was just a question of getting the timing right and preparing for it. When we were quarterly, we were often frustrated because great music would come out at points mid-way through our cycle, meaning we’d either be stupidly early or uselessly late if we covered it. Being monthly will mean we’re in the flow.
We’ve been preparing for it for some time now and, having worked on monthly (and weekly) schedules before, we know what we’re up against. It will be a big leap and it will be a lot of hard work, but in a a way it will be easier because there’s a more obvious rhythm to a monthly cycle and we’ll be able to make decisions more quickly. It’s like finally changing into top gear and getting into the fast lane after being stuck behind some juggernauts.”
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): What are the key differences involved in running digital compared to a print mag?
Electronic Sound (Push): “The freedom of making a magazine the way we do is really exciting because it’s at the cutting edge of magazine design, with pages that swipe, up and down or left to right, and layers of text and images that can move independently, and lots of embedded sound and video.
We really enjoy making the reading of Electronic Sound an experience in itself. It’s a design challenge to make it interactive and fresh, without compromising readability. It still needs to work as a magazine, even if it also does all this other interesting stuff.
The really obvious difference is at the distribution end. That’s actually great, because we don’t have to deal with the demands of the major retailers on the high street, which can be difficult, and there’s no warehousing, no unsold copies, no bales of magazines clogging up the fire exits, no pulping.
That said, there is a whole raft of new challenges that crop up, most often around software updates. When Apple update the iOS, it usually means some headaches and some late nights at the office for us. It’s the same with our app, when the platform we use to build the app gets updated.
And don’t get me started on the Apple Review process, which every app has to go through every time it’s updated, so we have to go through it every time we put out an issue. They don’t check the magazine itself, they just check the coding for the App Store, but going into Apple Review is like going into a black hole. Sometimes it takes less than 24 hours for a review, sometimes it takes more 10 days.”
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): More and more traditional magazines dying (Loaded last week being a particularly high profile example); is print realistically finished?
Electronic Sound (Push): “The news about Loaded did feel like the end of an era, like printed magazines somehow are a 20th century phenomenon. The decline of print does somehow seem inevitable. It saddens me to say that, but I think it’s true. Look at the sales of the print edition of the NME compared with the eyeballs on nme.com.
I’m beginning to wonder if print might come to occupy a similar position that vinyl now does – as desirable, low-run, collectible objects for enthusiasts. A print magazine is a beautiful thing when done well, and there will always be people who will buy print magazines, but mass-market publishing will eventually abandon print. They would do it tomorrow if they thought they could, I’m sure. In the meantime, it’s up to small niche publishers like us to show the way.”
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): How did the collaboration between Wolfgang Flür from Kraftwerk and Meat Beat Manifesto’s Jack Dangers come about; whose idea was it?
Electronic Sound (Push): “We knew we wanted to make a record for the launch of the Electronic Sound Music Club and we’ve been planning it for a while, but we didn’t know what the record should be. We just knew we wanted it to be something unique and out of the ordinary. We were interviewing various people for a cover feature celebrating the 40th anniversary of the release of Kraftwerk’s ‘Autobahn’ towards the end of last year and my co-founder Mark Roland was talking to Wolfgang Flür, who was part of the classic 70s and 80s Kraftwerk line-up.
Mark Roland has been friends with Jack Dangers for about 25 years and knew he was a huge Kraftwerk fan, so the idea popped into his head to try to bring the two of them together. He asked Wolfgang if he’d be interested and Wolfgang was.”
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): How did it work in practical terms- are they both giving you the track for free and/ or making it available as a download?
Electronic Sound (Push): “The collaboration happened by email over the course of a couple of months, with us chipping in (we accidentally gave the record the title because Wolfgang liked it when we said it was ‘melodic but staying in the shadow’). We paid Wolfgang and Jack a small fee for their work and we are pressing just 750 copies of the record.
There are two mixes of the track, but these are available exclusively as a limited edition seven-inch single to the first 750 people who join the Electronic Sound Music Club. The club costs £35 for a year and for that you get 12 issues of the magazine, the Wolfgang Flür & Jack Dangers record, and various music downloads, special offers, competitions and so on over the course of a year.
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): What’s been your finest ‘Electronic Sound’ moment before?
Electronic Sound (Push): “There have been lots of great moments. Just getting the first issue out felt like a massive victory. In a way, I suppose it was. The finest moment was last summer, when we secured a small investment as a result of pitching at a sort of Dragons Den-type event for start-up companies run by UKTI.
That meant we could do things like take on a full-time art editor and get some extra help with the editorial and start paying our contributors, which was something we weren’t able to do for the first few issues. Paying the contributors felt especially good.
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): What’s been the biggest crisis?
Electronic Sound (Push): “The worst moment was probably the week or two leading up to the UKTI event. Mark and I had put everything we had into the project and although we felt we were producing a great magazine we were running out of both energy and money, and we really felt we couldn’t go on much longer.
We went to the UKTI event feeling it was a final roll of the dice for us, which I think it probably was. I remember we ripped up our script about half an hour before we were due to pitch, and wrote something completely different while standing at the bar of the pub next door. And then about a minute after we’d delivered this hastily scribbled pitch, one of the investors said, “I think you’re perfect for us…’.
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): Anything else to add?
Electronic Sound (Push): “Please support our Kickstarter!! Cheers!! http://kck.st/1CBvIqk
As of the time of writing, the campaign needs just £1,200 to reach its target: deadline for supporting is April 11.