Chris Bowen
| March 14, 2014

Welcome to our first online edition of Music Forum Journal.

Those on our mailing list will know Music Australia has been undergoing many changes in recent months. Founder Dick Letts retired last year after 20 years service and the Board and I have been working on new plans and programs. We have new staff, a new Sydney office, our funding re-confirmed, and will shortly unveil new branding and a complete revamp of our websites and communications. We want to build a more powerful platform for Music Australia to continue to grow as a key voice in Australian music.

As part of this work, we have made the decision to take Music Forum Magazine online. This was partly inevitable, with the shift from print to digital all around us, and partly strategic. We want to maintain and indeed build the quality and great content of this magazine. However we also want it to have a larger audience, better reach, and increasing influence. This decision has not been taken lightly and, before sharing our future plans with you, it is worth taking a moment to examine how we have arrived at this point.

Music Forum has built a fine tradition over the past two decades. Started by Music Australia founder Dr Richard Letts, and edited by him from inception, Music Forum has been produced as a quarterly journal for as long as the Music Australia has been in existence. In his words it ‘reveals and debates developments in music and musical life, and the situation of music culturally and politically in Australia and the world’. Coverage has been extensive across all aspects of music, and the magazine has been privileged to enjoy support from many voluntary contributors across the country and the artform, from practising artists, school teachers and industry professionals to distinguished academics.

Today we remain very conscious of this tradition as we examine the future of Music Australia and the Music Forum Journal. In a review late last year the Music Australia Board noted its many strengths. Surveys have found the magazine to be highly regarded by the industry, it is a respected platform for music coverage, analysis, opinion, and reviews, and is unique in the market place. As a handsome publication, with good writers and coverage, an influential subscriber base, and good penetration into classical and music education sectors, it has a deservedly proud tradition.

In the past it has attracted good advertising support and a modest circulation of up to 600, yet it is no secret that in recent years these numbers have been at best static, but generally in decline. On examination the Music Australia noted Music Forum could have broader content, is not read by some of our stakeholders, the online version was ineffective, it requires a big slice of subsidy, and with a 2 – 3 month cycle from copy deadline to publication it can lack currency. It was concluded the magazine must adapt to fit current contemporary realities to retain its relevance and extend its reach.

So the decision has been taken to publish Music Forum quarterly on our website. It will continue to have authoritative articles, analysis, commentary, news and reviews. We have ambitions to extend the content both in range and depth, and particularly to offer more reviews of recordings and publications and to make it available to a wider and more immediate audience. We have taken it from behind the paywall, are introducing it to our full database of some 10,000 people, and will promote it more widely. It will have an interim format while we transition our communications, and then move to our redesigned website later in the year with improved functionality and layout. We are recruiting a new Editor to lead the magazine, and casual staff writers to produce content for all our communications. There is scope for increased integration across our various platforms and to foster more engagement and exchange with our readership. We will continue to welcome and encourage contributions from our current contributors and also invite new people to join this valued group of supporters.

As always we welcome your comments and suggestions and letters to the Editor. I hope you enjoy this issue of Music Forum Journal.

Chris Bowen
Music Australia, CEO

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