By Susan Sliwicki
When Goldmine celebrated 35 years in print in fall 2009, we didn’t light any candles, sing “Happy Birthday” or wear funny hats.
Maybe we thought the ol’ magazine would feel like many of us would — a little bit cranky about calling attention to another year of time passed. More likely, we were having a “Sixteen Candles” kind of moment where we were so wrapped up with everything else around us, we just overlooked Goldmine’s special day.
I’d prefer to think that it was merely a matter of letting all of the pieces fall into place at the right time. Had we talked about Goldmine’s history last fall, it would’ve been incomplete. This issue marks our brand-new magazine design under a brand-new editor. And, oh yeah, we just rolled out a brand-new, content-packed Web site, too.
So now that you know where we’re going, let’s take a fond look back at where we’ve been, courtesy of the Goldmine magazine archives.
Goldmine was founded by Brian Bukantis in 1974. Bukantis had some experience publishing a pro wrestling magazine, and a friend convinced him that record collectors needed a publication that would come out on a regular basis, according to interviews and stories included in Goldmine’s 20th anniversary edition in 1994.
Bukantis wasn’t interested in record collecting to any extent, he told Goldmine in an interview that first appeared in the November 1979 issue of the magazine.
“A friend of mine, Russ Worthy, was collecting on a small scale at that time. We’d get together and he’d spin some really fine ’50s sounds. He realized my interests in publishing and the print media in general, and he knew how fascinated I was by the whole publishing biz,” Bukantis recalled. “He showed me the available print media for the hobby of record collecting. One magazine was from new York, the other from the West Coast. I said, ‘Wow! These are great!’ Russ then told me, ‘Yeah, great, except they never come out on time.’ ”
That got Bukantis thinking that record collectors deserved a reliable publication, too, and the idea of Goldmine was born. Bukantis’ early publishing goals were simple: get the magazine out on time, and build it from there, he said.
“I wanted to provide service that was definitely lacking in the field at that time,” Bukantis said.
While the cover price of that first issue was marked as 25 cents, most of the magazines were distributed for free. At first, Goldmine was eight pages of ads, and it came out every other month. In short order, circulation grew from 850 people to 2,000 subscribers within months, and by the magazine’s sixth issue, articles began to appear along with the ads.
By the time Goldmine marked its 11th issue, the magazine had grown to 36 pages.
In late 1978, Goldmine had another growth spurt, this time becoming a monthly magazine. A short-lived spin-off magazine, Classic Wax, debuted in October 1980 with the goal of focusing on older forms of classical, jazz and pop music. After five issues. Classic Wax folded.
In 1983, Bukantis sold Goldmine to Krause Publications, now F+W Media. Other than Bukantis, who was replaced by publisher Doug Watson, all of the magazine’s other staffers remained part of Goldmine and made the transition from the magazine’s Michigan headquarters to Iola, Wis., home of Krause Publications and Goldmine magazine since issue No. 85.
Goldmine’s former assistant publisher, John Koenig, came on board as Goldmine’s advertising manager. Jeff Tamarkin remained Goldmine’s editor, operating out of a satellite office — his apartment — in New York City, according to the book “A Building is Only As Good As Its Foundation: Krause Publications’ Traditions and Philosophies at 45 Years” by Bob Lemke.
Some of you who may be experiencing déjà vu, as Goldmine is still based in Iola, Wis., and its editor, now Pat Prince, is based in a satellite office in — you guessed it — New York City. From an editorial perspective, the move made sense then and still makes sense now. New York was and is the music capitol of the world; sure seems like a good plan to have someone right in the heart of the action.
While telecommuting is commonplace at Goldmine now and is something most of us take for granted in today’s wired world, it wasn’t nearly so easy back then. Krause didn’t have a FAX machine. E-mail, the Internet and other technologies we take for granted weren’t around. Thank goodness there were delivery services available for when something absolutely, positively had to be there overnight.
The introduction of the FAX machine and early experiments in direct data transmissions made operating with an editor on the East Coast more cost-effective than in the past. Today, with tools like e-mail, instant messenger and an intra-office phone system, having team members based in Iola and New York is more like working a few cubicles apart than an entire time zone away.
Starting with issue No. 94 in March 1984, Goldmine became a bi-weekly magazine — a schedule it has maintained ever since. There were other changes, too. Some, like Goldmine’s expansion onto the World Wide Web in 1996, enjoyed lasting success. Others, like the spin-off magazines Country Sounds and Music Mart, did not.
On the occasion of Goldmine’s fifth anniversary, Bukantis said he thought of Goldmine as a necessary tool for any real record collector.
A few decades and a few different leaders later, Bukantis’ basic vision remains a key part of Goldmine’s goals today. We strive to educate and inform collectors, and we love to bring you articles, reviews and news about music and related collecting.
Goldmine’s lasting success is thanks to you, our loyal readers, who kept right on collecting vinyl records even though most record labels abandoned the format for awhile. Thank you. We’ve treasured the past 35 years with you, and we’re looking forward to many, many more.