Singing News posted on their home page today that they are now offering a digital version of the magazine to print subscribers. They are also offering digital-only subscriptions for $5 less per year ($15 instead of $20). [EDIT, 11/6/10: Regrettably, the link seems to be broken, so it has been removed.]
This is a fascinating move that could have long-term significance for the genre. Singing News was purchased by Salem Communications several years ago. [EDIT, 11/6/10: Regrettably, the link seems to be broken, so it has been removed.] Salem is a Christian media conglomerate that owns and publishes, among other magazines, CCM Magazine and Gaither’s Homecoming Magazine.
Why does any of this matter?
It matters because Salem has been shifting its focus to web-based content. In fact, CCM Magazine, the flagship magazine in its genre, just mailed its final issue. Could the same fate be in store for Singing News?
I doubt that it will happen in the immediate future. Too many Southern Gospel fans are older and either (a) have no Internet access or (b) only know how to use email to get the emails and pictures from the grandkids. Singing News and Salem have to know this fact, and I doubt that they would phase the print magazine out precipitously. That said, offering digital downloads of the magazine to print subscribers, as well as web-only subscriptions, marks the first two steps in that direction.