Crowdfunding campaigns come and go, but this one feels especially notable. Dan Goren, composer and improviser, founder of Composers Edition publishers, and assistant director of the Institute of Composing, is hoping to launch the UK’s first glossy magazine devoted to modern composition.
Sounds Like Now will be a bi-monthly publication, in both print and digital formats, focusing on contemporary music in the UK and Ireland. As well as composers, it promises also to pay particular attention to new music performers – a welcome goal. Dan and his editor, Steph Power, believe that “we should have an outward-looking publication which encourages more musicians and listeners to venture into the wonderfully rich and rewarding world of contemporary music,” and to this end the magazine will feature profiles and guides, as well as the usual mix of news, reviews, and essays.
This is, without doubt, an ambitious vision. But Dan has done his research, knows the field well, and has constructed a convincing business plan. The crowdfunding campaign, as described in the video below, is to get the magazine off the ground: to generate a significant subscriber base in order to create proof of concept and allow Dan and Steph to approach the advertisers who will support the magazine in future with an attractive proposition. With, say, 500 subscribers board at the start Sounds Like Now becomes viable, and something that advertisers will want to be seen in. From there, anything becomes possible.
For a long time I have argued that a publication like this, that acts as both a shop window and a forum for debate, is something the new music scene in the UK badly needs.That has always been one of the motivations behind this blog, after all. Just a glance at the list of composers represented by Composers Edition – from Charlotte Bray to Roger Redgate – gives you an idea of the range of activity that is out there. As a writer on new music in the UK, the number of professional outlets for my work (and the work of other, brilliant writing colleagues) is a source of frequent concern, and occasional despair.
Changes at Tempo in the last couple of years have done much to help fill that gap, but Tempo‘s focus – and the editorial and distributional focus of its publisher, Cambridge University Press – is and is expected to remain, academic. Publications like The Wire, Gramophone and BBC Music Magazine feature modern composition, as does Ireland’s Journal of Music, but at best it is only one of a number of editorial interests; at worst it can feel like a fifth wheel.
Sounds Like Now can be, and I hope will be, an attractive, accessible, and visible hub for debate and discussion around new music in this country and in Ireland. That is why I have accepted Dan’s invitation to write for the magazine, and why I support this crowdfunding initiative and urge you to do the same.