Harmony Central, the highest-traffic music tech site online, announced yesterday it had been acquired by music catalog outlet Musician’s Friend. For their part, Harmony Central’s founders remain onboard and claim the site will remain an “independent publisher and forum.”
But wait a minute: while it’s great to hear the most-read site on the Web for music is getting some new resources, a major challenge for online publishing, let’s think about this: the most-read site is now owned entirely by the number one catalog reseller (as trumpeted by the press release heralding the deal.) That doesn’t sound terribly independent to me.
Don’t get me wrong: I have great respect for the team that runs Harmony Central and has given that site such longevity, and I expect we’ll continue to see great things. As they say in their PR, this could be a great opportunity for the site to grow. (Lack of resources may be the reason, for instance, their “editorial” section hasn’t been updated since around 2000.) And KVR Audio, now owned by hardware manufacturer Muse Research certainly maintained its unique flavor under new ownership — and gave Harmony Central a run for its money in software coverage — so I’m not maintaining ownership is a bad thing. (Disclosure: virtually all the money I make from tech writing right now, for all the outlets I write for, is dependent on ad dollars from manufacturers and developers. So I’m basically in the same boat.)
Let’s face it, music publishing in general remains under real pressure to stay independent. What do you think: got any tips for how publications can bring in revenue without relying on manufacturers? And have we all gotten overly dependent on gear? Is good news, bad news, or non-news? Ultimately, you’re the folks who matter: the readers.