American Songwriter (Free) by American Songwriter Magazine, LLC is the iPad-only digital version of the magazine of the same name. The magazine began in 1984 for musicians, by musicians and has grown its distribution to close to 100,000 subscribers. With the release of their subscription-based digital version, the company’s circulation is sure to increase significantly. This app, while full of the content available in the paper edition, includes tons of extra features, making it worth buying, even if you already subscribe to the print copy.
The app has basically the same content as the print version, including a massive number of ads, but there are some iPad specific features. Each page, including ads, has a media tray where there are links to websites related to the page, songs by artists that you are reading about and videos of songs you are reading about. Music and videos are Airplay enabled, so you can watch them on your TV while reading the article.
The additional features are my favorite part of this app. The current, free issue is the Country issue and has a few musicians that I have never heard of, like Jonny Corndawg, for example. I had never heard of this Country songwriter, but from the media tray, I was able to watch videos and sample his songs in iTunes. This kind of music discovery is the future I’ve been waiting for.
There are no details as to the cost of future issues, or even subscriptions, but single issues of the print magazine are $8.00 and subscriptions are $9 per year for six issues. Presumably, the digital versions will be similarly priced.
As mentioned above, this magazine is rife with advertisements. I can say without over exaggerating that pretty much every other page is an advertisement. This may be to compensate for the fact that the premier digital issue is being offered for free, I’m not sure. If they appear in the paid versions, I’m positive that the overabundance of ads will annoy more than a few readers.
Overall, any fan of music discovery in general and American Songwriter Magazine specifically, will love this app. The iPad features make it even more enjoyable to learn more about bands. If you don’t have a problem with ads, download the free issue. If you don’t like them, skip this magazine altogether.