FolkWorld #78 07/2022
© Editorial by Michael Moll

The F Word: A tribute to the Living Tradition magazine

Living Tradition: Brid Harper

In its latest edition, the Scottish (British and Irish) folk music magazine The Living Tradition announced that the following issue would be the last, after 30 years in publication.

Living Tradition: Spiers & Boden

Three years after the final issue of the England-based folk magazine fRoots, the Living Tradition will leave a gaping hole in the British folk scene, with no large printed magazine left to focus on British folk music (well there’s still Rock’n’Reel and Irish Music although clearly the focus of these is very different). Clearly, things have moved on and it has become increasingly difficult to run a printed magazine without making a loss – as is highlighted in the announcement by the Living Tradition, quoted below. Of course, the team in FolkWorld knows from their 25 years experience how much work and commitment is required even to run an online magazine - which does not have the same financial exposure of a print magazine.

It is an incredibly achievement of the Living Tradition team to have kept going for 25 years and 145 issues, and throughout the years keeping to the essence of a non-commercial magazine steeped in the folk scene. Many of us will have their own fond memories of the magazine – making new discoveries, or perhaps expectantly waiting for that Festival Issue with the massive festival listings to plan the folk summer.

To keep this labour of love on the road for so long has been a massive commitment and effort by the team. The final edition is, rightly a celebration of 30 years of achievement – and the LT team can certainly be proud of what they have achieved.

A huge thank you from FolkWorld to Pete and Heather Heywood, their daughter Fiona and Jim Byrne for all they have done for our folk scene with this magazine.

Here's the announcement in the Living Tradition’s own words:

Important announcement regarding the future of The Living Tradition

Living Tradition: Ray Fisher

“For almost 30 years now, The Living Tradition has been in print, and for many years you have been on this journey with us.  We’ve seen lots of changes, and we feel we’ve successfully played our part in promoting traditional folk music in these islands and beyond.  

Living Tradition: Chris Newman & Máire Ní Chathasaigh

But we feel the time has now come when we can put down our pens, knowing that we have done our share, and so we are letting you know that The Living Tradition magazine will cease publishing after our next issue, which will be out at the beginning of August.  This was a difficult decision to come to – the magazine has been such a huge part of our lives for so long, particularly for Pete and Heather who changed the direction of their lives when they chose to create LT all those years ago – but we trust you will support us now, as you always have.

Since we began publishing in 1993, the world has changed enormously.  When we began, not too many artists had websites of their own with which to promote themselves; CDs and other information about artists and what was going on were sometimes hard to come by; and social media wasn’t really heard of.  The world is a different place now and the print magazine’s place in it has changed - particularly for independent publications like ours with no financial backing from elsewhere.  But we are immensely proud of the work we have done and what we have achieved in 30 years.  It will be for others to take this work forward now, in different ways.

Recent times have brought extra challenges

We have worked hard to keep the magazine afloat during the COVID era.  The resulting decrease in advertising revenue when nothing was really happening was difficult, but more recently an additional series of cost pressures have taken us to a point where a printed magazine has become unsustainable.  One example, but by no means the only one, is postal costs.  We all see the benefits of email, texts etc., but this has meant that postal services are dramatically increasing their prices for physical mail.  It has now reached the point where posting a copy of the magazine overseas costs more than our subscription income on that item.  UK postal prices have also risen substantially.  Although energy cost increases aren’t a significant direct factor for us, indirectly they are significant, particularly on paper costs.

Living Tradition: Eric Bogle

While we’ve managed to weather the storm so far, thanks in no small way to support from many of you, we feel the time is right to stop now, before we start to get in a situation that would lead to debt.  It also feels like the right time in our personal lives to make this change – it will be nice to have time for other things.  


Living Tradition: Reg Meuross

Announcing the end of the magazine while still having several months of work to do will have a financial impact for us.  Subscription income is critical to us, and with the decline in advertising revenue over the last while, it is even more so.  We will now be unable to accept new subscriptions, but with this issue and a further one to come, any loss of renewal income will hit us hard and leave a gap in our monthly income over a period when we will still have costs to cover – printing bills, postage, websites, phones, software and computer systems and other running costs.  None of the team have taken a proper wage from LT for many years, and we were happy to work on that basis because we recognised the importance of it, but this means that we are not in the position personally to cover these final costs; in short, there’s no buffer in the bank.  We hope that those of you who have enjoyed the benefits of the magazine over the years will help us over this final hurdle.  

For those of you whose subscriptions are now due, we have decided to send out a renewal reminder anyway, but instead of looking for a re-subscription, we’ll refer to a possible ‘donation’ which would help sustain us over the next few months.  Some of you might consider donating the full normal subscription rate, but we would be happy to receive any amount - even just enough to cover a single final issue (and, of course, the option to buy single issues is still available on the homepage of our website).

For those of you whose subscriptions are still current, we hope that most of you will be happy with the service you’ve had from us over the years, and all the magazines you’ve received, and that you won’t mind missing out on a few issues.  We’ve clearly stated in the magazine and on our website over the past few years that subscriptions are only valid until the expiry of the magazine – and sadly that time has come.  But if you feel that this is treating you unfairly, get in touch with us and we’ll do what we can to come to some arrangement.

Living Tradition: Iona Fyfe

Even for those of you whose subscription is not due for renewal, we are asking that you consider making a final contribution to the magazine in the form of a donation to help us finance the magazine during these last few months without getting into the red.  You can donate easily using the link on our website front page (  Or you can, of course, send us a card payment or cheque.

Legacy Options

Living Tradition: Ben Paley

Although the magazine will be coming to an end, we recognise the current and ongoing importance of our archives and continued access to information.  The website, for instance, is still a resource for people, and includes an extensive list of festivals, folk club information, articles and reviews, etc.

Our archives of printed articles and photographs is substantial and important.  The magazine has always been lodged with the National libraries and copies sent to the Smithsonian.  Longer term, Pete is hoping to be able to keep certain parts of the website active and, as always, he has an idea or two up his sleeve for the future.  He is aware that The Living Tradition archives contain a wealth of information that would be awful to lose.  What shape this will take will become clearer as we move forward, and obviously there is a cost impact for him as well, but we hope that you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of our work over the last 30 years into the future.

 Our final issue – Celebrating 30 years of achievement

We are sure that many of you would want to help us to continue to explore options to allow us to stay in print, and for that we are immensely grateful, but we have concluded that we’ve arrived at the right decision for the magazine and for us.  We now feel we need to focus on managing the process and perhaps also to take some solace from reflecting on what the magazine has achieved.  We hope that our final print issue of The Living Tradition is one of celebration rather than sadness, and that in the days to come, you’ll join us in looking back on the work of the last 30 years with fondness and even a bit of pride.

If you have any questions regarding this, please feel free to get in touch.  The best way is by email to, but other contact details are on page 3. With gratitude for all your support, Fi, Jim, Pete and Heather.

Photo Credits: The Living Tradition: (1) Brid Harper, (2) Spiers & Boden, (3) Ray Fisher, (4) Chris Newman & Máire Ní Chathasaigh, (5) Eric Bogle, (6) Reg Meuross, (7) Iona Fyfe, (8) Ben Paley (unknown/website).

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