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Kick(re-)starter

Our recent campaign to rescue the good ship fRoots worked magnificently. Ian Anderson reports on the results, and what we’re doing next. Thank you!

You’re wonderful, you lot – the amazing folk, roots and world music community! We knew we carried a lot of goodwill out there, not just from readers whose lives have been enhanced by the music we cover but also among the many artists, record producers, upholders of traditions and promoters of events whose efforts we’ve brought to those readers’ attention. But we genuinely had no real idea just how much until we launched our emergency Save fRoots Kickstarter fundraiser back in November.

When we passed our initial cautious target – cautious because if you don’t hit it you get nothing – in 48 hours we were astounded. When, by the time it closed a few days before Christmas, we’d doubled it, we were – as the popular expression goes – gobsmacked! And, I hardly need to say, extremely grateful. Thank you all so much!

So how did we get here, and what are we planning? You all deserve to know.

fRoots had its record year in 2003/4, but then things slowly started falling apart. The proverbial writing was on the wall for the music industry in general, not just our little parallel universe, as record labels began to be hit by downloading, and touring was reduced in the fallout from ‘9/11’. The financial crash of 2007/8 hit us totally unexpectedly (in that conditions in the ‘real world’ had never previously affected us, even when Thatcher put interest rates up to 14%). Advertising, particularly for ‘world music’, fell off a cliff. By 2011, advertising income had fallen by 30%, necessitating our relocation outside London, and all staff decentralising and working remotely.

Advertising continued to drop and is now around 50% of its historic peak and 2017 was the worst year this century. In common with all other magazines, news trade sales also fell during this period, partially replaced by cheaper digital ones, though they’ve now stabilised. Subscriptions have proven more resilient, however, and single issue direct sales have actually been growing again in the past year – an encouraging trend, as are the often quoted return to physical reading matter as digital falls out of fashion.

By autumn 2017, it was clear that even with our best efforts, fRoots might not survive much longer without an injection of funds and a new model. In spite of trimming costs as far as possible (I’ve not drawn a salary myself for three years), we were still losing about £1K an issue – which, tantalisingly, barely a couple more pages of advertising would cover! So debts had continued to mount and paying overheads was becoming impossible. A short term loan from a kind supporter was all that enabled us to hold on while the Kickstarter Save fRoots campaign was launched.

Save fRoots

We deliberately couched the campaign in terms of giving us breathing space, not to sort out the magazine’s finances completely. “We need to develop a new business model and decide what our next steps are as a publication,” ran the introduction, “but we can't devote time to doing that while we're also trying to stay on top of a busy publishing schedule and balance increasingly unbalanced costs and income. This is why we need your help… We can also plan for the current editor's handover to a new team to take over the reins…”

To our considerable surprise – illustrating the vast goodwill held by fRoots – the campaign grossed £40,650. Net of bounced pledges, Kickstarter fees, payment processing fees, project management fees, the costs of making rewards, postage and packing materials and other costs to be refunded to those who generously provided rewards, the campaign netted around £32,000. And more of you also showed your support by becoming new subscribers, a very welcome side effect of the consciousness raising.

This doesn’t fill the whole hole by any means, but it enabled us to repay that short term loan in full and clear some big outstanding debts, in particular to the dreaded wolf-toothed HMRC and to patient, hardworking staff and freelances. It gave us just that breathing and head space we had asked for. Exactly as the campaign pledged, it gives us time to create a new model.

In mid-January we held a first meeting to look at future solutions, attended by a dozen expert advisors from the folk and arts worlds, to whom more gratitude. Following on from that we are immediately moving to a new, more financially viable publishing model that will take effect next month: more details then, but basically it’ll be much bigger and better issues less often while we focus on the longer term. Existing subscriptions will be correctly adjusted accordingly. We’re urgently working on a much better and more fit-for-purpose web site and engagement with social media to drive increased revenue. And we will also be surveying readers in the near future, to make sure your voices are heard.

We will embark on a professional business consultation, the cost of which may come from funding or need more fundraising (we still have a donations page in the meantime). We will seek backers. We will also be looking for voluntary help, particularly from people with publishing and marketing experience.

But the January meeting concluded with considerable optimism that a new, better model is possible and that a transition to the next generation fRoots can be done. Roll on 40th anniversary!

So, again, thanks a million to all the backers – 718 of you! – and all the generous people and organisations who donated some truly amazing rewards for pledgers. We've listed below all those who pledged in the sections where we promised ’your name in lights’ (a few more still hadn’t replied to the post-campaign survey or simply wanted to remain anonymous). We are, honestly, humbled by this life-affirming response. Thank you!

SUPPORTERS

Adam Scott; Adam Slough; Adie Turford; Aileen Hood; Alan Brennan; Alan Creamer; Alan Gellion; Alan Golden; Alan James Harper; Alan Mills; Alan Pudding; Alastair Moir; Alec Thompson; Alick Leslie; Alistair Anderson; Alix Cooper; Ana Vivas; André Havard; Andrea Goertler; Andrew Carruthers; Andrew Davison; Andrew Lane; Andrew Norton; Andrew Shield; Andrew Taylor; Andy Alexis; Andy Letcher; Andy Nagy; Andy Talkington; Anna Domino; Anna Smith; Annebella Pollen; Anthony Cummins; Arlen Michaels; Arthur O'Malley; Ayla Bedri & Dave Wilkinson; Badger Music, Croydon; Barbara Selby; Barry Edwards; Barry Osborne; Bart Aerts; Ben Mason; Bernard O'Neill (Grand Duc Studios); Bev Langton; Black Swan Folk Club, York; Bob Antia; Bob Cottertill; Bob Walton; Brad O'Meara; Bradley Noreen; Brian Chaddock; Brian Cope; Brian Knowles; Brian McKibbin; Brian Morgan; Buffy McClelland; Cara Gibney; Carl Lee; Carla Walters; Carmen Hunt; Carole Haines; Carolyn Knowland; CD Mastering By Henry; Charles Harvey; Charlie Brittain; Charlie Burrow; Charlotte King; Chris Bartlett; Chris Bates; Chris Cooke; Chris Corble; Chris J Dixon; Chris Keogh; Chris Pentney; Chris Stroud; Chris Watts; Christian Globisch; Christian Mörkelsberger; Christine Duff; Christine Ellis; Christopher Conder; Christopher Johnson; Christopher Turner; Claire Stevens; Colin Bass; Colin Beney; Colin Denton; Colin Harper; Colin Randall; Colman FitzGerald; Con Murphy; Crawford Scholes; Dan Quinn; Dan Ward; Danny Diamond; Daria Kulesh; Dave & Lizzie Mclean; Dave Beeby; Dave Chick; Dave Hill; Dave Laing; Dave The Train; David Clifton; David Francis; David Grubb; David Jennings; David Johns; David Macfarlane; David Mawdsley; David Meadows; David Saunders; David Smith; David Thorpe; David Vaughan; David Wade; Dawn & David Good; Debbie Golt (Outerglobe); Debs Earl (Folk In The Barn); Derik Palmer; Diana Silver; Diane Kearns; Dick Ridley; Dietmar Haslinger; DJ fflyffilyfbybl; DJ Nigel Wood; Donald MacNeill; Doug Dunning; Dougal Campbell; Dougal Campbell; Douglas Stein; Dr Peter Robinson; Drew Miller / Omnium Records; Dubulah; Duncan Noble; Ed Cunningham; Eddie Dorey; Eddie Kavanagh; Eleanor Thorn (Tuned In London); Eleanor Walker; Elinor Elis-Williams; Elizabeth Bennett; Ellen Rawson; Elliot Jackson; Emily Jones; Emma Kate Spencer; Eric Worrall; Eugene Gallagher & Jo Debank; Eugene McGrath; Fenella Barnes; Fishbowl Music Tank; Folk Phenomena; FolkFreak.com; Francis Dickinson; François Mauger; Frank Parry; Frazer Clarke; G Jones; Gareth Thomas; Gary Moyle; Gary Thornton; Geoff Burton; George Prince; Gerald Pineau; Gernot Barschke; Gian Paolo Berta; Gillian Thompson; Giulietta Cinque; Globalsounds.info; Glynis Llewelyn; Gordon Jackson; Gordon Potts; Graeme Duncan; Graham Ley; Graham Pilkington; Graham Rice (The Wagonload Of Monkeys Radio Show); Graham Thursby; Greg Hitchcock; Guy Chant; H Mustapha & family; Hannah Bright; Harp & A Monkey; Helen Minnes; Herb Levy; Hilary Roberts; Hilary Waterfield; Iain Campbell; Iain Scott; Ian Dearden; Ian Driscoll; Ian Law; Ian McDonald; Ian Sleney; Ian Strong; Ilan Zagoria; Inma Grass; Jack Beard; Jack Clift; Jack Rutter; Jackie Harrison; Jacky Walls; Jacob Edgar; Jak Kilby; James Joyce; Jan Howard; Jan Mulreany; Jan Newby & Evan Cole; Jane Bird; Jane Griffiths; Jane Moulder; Jason O'Rourke; Jeanette Leech; Jeff Hojnicki; Jelli Records; Jen Mather; Jenna Walker; Jenny Ingles; Jeremy Searle; Jerry Botti; Jim Johnstone (AmpersandPR); Jim Robertson; Jim Taylor; Jim Veit; Jo May; Joan Kureczka & Jesse Fisher; Joanne Ball; Joe Buirski; Johanni Curtet; John Asquith Spencer; John Barker; John Blakeley; John Braithwaite; John Cole; John Gibaut; John Googe; John Gough; John Hiskett& Poppy Mathews; John Orsulik; John Padden; John Pearson; John Wright; Johnny Fewings; Jon Brenner; Jon Magnus Landstad; Jon Price; Jon Wilks; Jonathan Coppock; Jonathan Eastmond; Jonathan Friend-Thomas; Jonathan Luxmoore; Jose Antonio Picas; Jude Anderson; Jude Rogers; Julian McEntegart; Julian Pounds; Justin Holmes; Karine Polwart; Karl Sinfield; Kate Longmate; Katerina Pavlakis; Kathryn Tickell; Katie G; Katie Rose; Katie Whitehouse; Katy Spicer; Keith Dancey; Keith Savage; Kenette Louis; Kenneth Buckmann; Kevin & Sylvia Prior; Kevin R Soulsby; Kieron Fuller; Kim Lowings; Lamia Bedioui (L Bedioui Music Production); Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards; Laura Smyth & Ted Kemp; Lauren Bufferd; Len Parkin; Leonard Ingles; Lily F. Bentley; Linde Nijland; Lindie Naughton; Lisa Warburton; Liz Thomson; Lorne Murdoch; Lorrie Carse-Wilen; Louisa Davies-Foley; Lucy Dee; Ludvig; Luke Bretscher; Lynn Breeze; M Broadbent; M. A. Smallwood; Maggie Holland; Malcolm Smale & Jill Rowan; Malcolm Woodhall; Mandolin Jack; Mapamundi Música International; Marco Venuti; Mari Booker; Marion Cranmer & Garry Pethurst; Mark Clarke; Mark Fromhold; Mark Salisbury; Mark Shucksmith; Mark Studden; Martin Owen; Martin Rutt; Mary Huey; Matt Quinn; Matthew Bannister; Maureen Musson; Mauro Durante (CGS); Meriel Ensom; Meriel Ensom; Michael Brain; Michael Burston; Michael Cohen; Michael Cunningham; Michael Dowd; Michael Kilduff; Michael Luffingham; Michael McKenna; Michael Shade; Mick Smith; Mike Andrews; Mike Bleines; Mike Conquer; Mike Cooksley; Mike Latham; Mike Norris; Mike Rolland; Moussu T e Lei Jovents; Mr Michael Tyte; Musical Traditions; Nance Grace; Naomi Bedford; Natasha R. Chisdes; Nathan Salsburg; Neil Boast; Neil Martin; Neil Thompson; Nel Hargrave; Nicholas Robertson; Nick Ellis; Nick Hobbs; Nick Mole; Nick Skelton (aka DJ Skunk); Nick White; Nicky Haire; Nigel Wheatley; Norman Druker; Norman Lamont Music; Oscar Cainer; Paolo Petroni; Patrick Cook; Patrick Cook; Patrick Harris; Patrick Hurley; Patty Hoeler; Paul Fisher; Paul Fisher; Paul Garbett; Paul Kelly; Paul Mansfield; Paul Mosley; Paul Rhodes; Paul Slade; Paul Smith; Paul Sullivan; Paul Woodgett; Penny Ewles-Bergeron; Penny Heaton; Peta Webb; Pete & Celia Kemp; Pete Bateman Gowerton; Pete Mitton; Pete Simons; Pete Trotman; Peter Aastrup; Peter Bowden; Peter Cage; Peter Emery; Peter Goetz; Peter Hall; Peter Ingram; Peter Kleinschmidt; Peter Lord; Peter Van Rompaey; Peter Winn; Phil Andrew; Phil Brown in Bude; Phil Carter; Phil McMullen (Terrascope Magazine); Phil Turner; Phil Tuson; Phil Walker; Philip Lamble; Philip Meckiff; Philip Stacey; Philippa Major; Pierre Regnaud; Rab Noakes; Rachel Dodd; Rachel Gallagher; Ralph Brandi; Rebe Cleveland; Richard Boon; Richard Brock; Richard Eastmond; Richard Haslop; Richard Lambert; Richard Letchford; Richard Smith; Richard Toller; Rita Gallard; Rob Lowe; Rob Menzies; Rob Phillips; Rob Smith; Rob Winwood; Robb Johnson; Robert Garcia; Robert Grant; Robert Kanouse; Robert Macfarlane; Robert Vardill; Roger Stone; Rory McLeod; Rosie Garthwin; Ross Couper; Roy Thomassen; Russ Clark; Russ Slater; Russell Cartwright; Ruth Rosselson; Sam Lee; Sandy Miranda; Sarah Kurlowich; Sean Cerqua; Seán Ó Duinn; Seth M Johnson; Simon & Candy Schwartz; Simon Glinn; Simon Jones; Simon Rayner; Sir Steve Bullock; Small Island Big Song; Sophie Parkes; Stacey M; Stef Wouters (Roel en de Kleine Revolutie, Belgium); Stephan Heilmayr; Stephen Carter; Stephen Ferron; Stephen J Henwood; Stephen Jenkins; Stephen Skey; Steve & Kim King; Steve Byrne (Malinky); Steve Fletcher; Steve Horrell; Steve Mansfield; Steve Mills; Steve Saunders; Steve Verde; Stewart Dutfield; Stewart Travers; Sue Godsell; Suzette Watkins; Tasuku Nagasawa; Terence Payne; Terry Osborne; Terry Walden; The Goose Is Out!; The Leitrim Hermit; The Turbans; The Ukulele & Other Machines (Croydon); Theresa Lane; Tilly Harrison; Tim Allen; Tim Chambre; Tim Dickinson; Tim Stephens; Tim Wales; Toine Horsten; Tom A Wright; Tom Cheyney; Tom Heyes; Tom Jackson; Tom Marks; Tommy Knowland; Tony Baines; Tony Roberts; Tony Williamson; Trio Dhoore; Under the Mason's Apron Folk Show; Vincent Carolan; Vivienne Bloomfield; Wallee Mc Donnell; Wendy, Miranda & Owen; Wiebke Dittmer; Willi Klopottek; Wolfram Slides; Yoko Nozaki; Yutaka Oshima; Zia Roberts; Zuzana Novak.

REWARD DONORS

7digital; 9Bach; Alan Lomax Archives; Alex Merry; Alistair Anderson; Andrew Cronshaw; Andy Cutting; Anne Lister; ARC Music; Asphalt Tango Records; Ben Mandelson; BJ Cole; Bridport Winter Solstice Festival; Cambridge Folk Festival; Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita; Choux de Bruxelles; Chris Foster; Chris Nickson; Chris Wood; Claire Horton PR; Cornwall Folk Festival; Eliza Carthy; Emily Jones; False Lights; Fay Hield; Fellside Records; Fire in the Mountain Festival; Fledg'ling; Gerry Diver; Ghosts From The Basement; Giorgos Manolakis; Glitterbeat; HebCelt Festival; Hornbeam Records ; Ian Kearey; Ian Sturrock; James Yorkston; Jamie Orchard-Lisle; Jeanette Leech; Jim Moray; Jo Gedrych; Joe Boyd; Jon Boden ; Jon Langford; Lankum; Laurel Swift; Lawrence Heath; Leveret; Lisa Knapp; Lomax Films (American Epic); London Folk Festival; Maggie Holland; Martha Mavroidi; Martin Simpson; Hi-Fi Copies; Mavrika; Mick Kidd & Chris Garratt (BIFF); Mojmir Novakovic; Movimientos Records; Mrs Casey Music; Muziekpublique; Naomi Bedford; Navigator Records; Nonesuch Records; Olivia Chaney; Outhere Records; Oysterband; Paul Slade; Pete Coe; Playpen Management; Priddy Folk Festival; Proper Music; Real World Records; Ross Daly & Kelly Thoma; Sam Amidon; Sam Lee; Shirley Collins; Shrewsbury Folk Festival; Sidmouth FolkWeek; Simon Emmerson; Spiro; Stelios Petrakis; Steve Tilston; Stick In The Wheel/ Kartel ; The Copper Family; The Furrow Collective; The Goose Is Out!; Tim Chipping; Tim Eriksen; Topette!!; Topic Records; TunedIn London; Waulk Records; WOMEX and Piranha Arts; World Circuit.

 

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