The respected arts and classical musical magazine and website Limelight has been rescued from its financial troubles and bought for an undisclosed sum by two men with no experience in publishing. But they do have a fervent belief in the future of the magazine and its place in Australia’s cultural landscape.
Both music lovers and longtime readers of the magazine, actuary Bruce Watson and specialist travel agent Robert Veel (also a regular Limelight advertiser), have formed ‘Limelight Arts Media’ to assume ownership from the previous owner, Andrew Batt-Rawden, who will stay on as a consulting publisher.
The magazine faced closure earlier this year as Batt-Rawden struggled to maintain financial control at a time when most small media – and particularly niche arts media – are facing declining advertising revenue.
Limelight has about 7,000 magazine subscribers who pay $88 a year for nine copies. Batt-Rawden says its website attracts about 800,000 unique visitors a year, with about half of those coming from overseas. The magazine is also sold in newsagents for $9.99 a copy.
The costs of printing the magazine and supporting two full-time and four part-time staff took its toll and new capital was required to manage cash flow. The current staff, including its editor Jo Litson, remains unchanged.
Watson and Veel told Daily Review today that they were confident the magazine will expand – a target has been set for 8,000 paid subscribers – and they plan to introduce a paywall to its website for readers wanting access to its archive of 5000 articles.
They said they had no immediate plans to stop the print publication in favour of a digital only platform.
The new owners and Batt-Rawden told Daily Review that the magazine has enormous “goodwill” from the arts industry and said part of its new strategy to expand its digital reach might include sharing databases with arts companies and having a “presence” at arts festivals and events.