Sunday, October 03, 2010

Real Groove is goneburgers

Friday saw the demise of Real Groove magazine, as its publishers, Tangible Media, said they were merging it into the weekly free magazine, Groove Guide. Longtime contributor Gary Steel wrote a piece on it at, called Real Gone.

Steel says that "it changed markedly with each successive editor. Both [former editors] John Dix and Nick Bollinger reflected Real Groovy’s roots-music bias, but it grew bigger, got a cover price, got glossier and larger in format, and eventually attempted to become a general culture bible in addition to a music magazine. It had elements of Mojo and Uncut, but reflected its smaller demographic by trying valiantly to be all things to all people."

I totally agree with him that the columns were "the real guts of Real Groove ...  it did have a bunch of specialists in different genres writing with passion and knowledge in a section of columns, and ... I think this section was really the best part of the magazine, and the one that will be most missed." I loved reading what columnists like Kerry Buchanan, Troy Ferguson, and Stinky Jim had to say every month. Fantastically opinionated writing from such hugely knowledgeable folk was a delight. 

Former editor Duncan Greive weighs in over at  He notes that the magazine departs on its 18th birthday,with the final issue, with Leonard Cohen on the cover, hitting newstands now. Oddly enough the magazine has had a redesign, and looks a lot like Rolling Stone and Uncut. It's a strange look to go out on, but I suspect the staff probably didn't know it was the mag's swansong when they were putting it together.

Duncan talks about the magazine's circulation, and its perception in the marketplace among punters. He talks about battling the effects of the internet, and ad sales declining.

"... The final issue, with Leonard Cohen on the cover, is a pretty impressive way to bow out. It looks fantastic, design-wise, and seems to have settled into a groove (argh) which might have actually worked, had it been allowed to continue. A local answer to Uncut et al might have worked (though as others have pointed out, those publications’ ad pages are thin and unglamourous), with an equal engagement with the past and the future, targeting the people who still spend money on music.

" That was always Tangible’s plan for the publication, one which I definitely didn’t engage with beyond bowing to the suggestion that U2 grace the cover (then immaturely struggling to restrain my glee when it tanked at the news-stand). Given six more months to truly define the role and get the market to buy in maybe the story ends very differently .... But the demise itself was never in question, in my opinion, no matter what well-intentioned sales people, editors, publishers and more tried to do. It was the date which remained in play until now. Whether magazines can continue to limp on until some new technology or system makes them viable is an open question."

UPDATE Wednesday 6 Oct: More Real Groove tributes from former writers Joe Nunweek and Dan Trevarthen. also carried a story about Real Groove's closure, based on some wildly  inaccurate information which I understand was a press release provided by Tangible Media. "When Tangible Media purchased the Groove titles after Real Groovy went into liquidation in 2008, the magazine couldn’t continue to be propped up by the music store."

Former General Manager at Real Groovy, Steve Richards, bought Real Groove off Real Groovy way before the liquidation and started up Groove Media as their publisher, and was successfully running nthe mags without being propped up by the stores., which were clearly doing badly then. I remember when  Real Groovy went into liquidation thinking that at least Real Groove would survive the fallout, as it was no longer part of the shops.

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