The Buddha Den

Everything you wanted to know about the Dayton music scene and more but were afraid to ask

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Save Yr Paste

...if you've been paying attention, you're probably well aware that the publishing industry is having a REALLY bad year. Some of our country's longest-running newspapers have crumbled in the wake of this financial debacle, while those still standing are scrambling like mad to ensure their continued existence. One such publication would be the highly-reputable Paste Magazine which is currently in the midst of a campaign soliciting contributions to stabilize their financial affairs with The Campaign to Save Paste. Although the word "bailout" is taking on a decidedly sour flavor these days, Paste Magazine assures us that this is a one-time-only situation. What's more, they're giving something back immediately as thanks for your help. By contributing, you'll receive access to a store of some 70+ rare and unreleased tracks that you'll not find anywhere else. If you're at all inclined to regarding Paste Magazine as an authority in music, you might consider dropping a proverbial coin in the hat for the future...



Anonymous Anonymous said...

who cares? magazines & newspapers will continue to die. (you're not gonna do a buddha den print edition are you?!)

2:54 PM  
Anonymous Dave Davis said...

Periodic mercy tips aren't a sustainable business model... there's no sign that Paste has a plan beyond survival at this point in time. Will the mag that comes out of this experience be the same as the Paste we love and trust? How can it?

As public radio is discovering, quality often loses to quantity or price in the market place for subscriptions. In the past couple years, we've locally lost 2 stations in an economic mashup that resembles neither source.

Every major label, cable company, movie rental biz, health care operation, and even entities as tiny as bands are in a cage death-match for a tiny slice of your income pie (paid on a monthly basis in perpetuity). The obvious hitch: each of our pies is of fixed (currently shrinking) size, while subscriptions make your decisions for you, well in advance of product delivery. It pits WNKU vs. XM/Sirius, Rhapsody vs. Shake It, Paste vs. CMJ et al, winner take all.

This is bad for small. Terrible for creatives who rely on your impulse purchase of some wonderful new song, art, or thing. Paste didn't suddenly start sucking. Like WMUB, they found themselves in an unexpected battle for their own customers. And, as a subscription-driven mag, relying on ad revenues from dying labels, this problem must get worse.

When people like Rick Rubin, and other Usual Suspects (i.e. major label artists and refugees used to fat, easy paychecks) pimp subscriptions as the salvation of the biz, laugh in their face. It's a Big Lie of the first order. It's not surprising that desperate and spoiled fools in a dying industry would grab at every straw, but there's no reason to trust their judgement or ideas. So in large part, the industry Paste covers is killing the magazine through parasitic competition. Attach to the host (fans) and drain the blood before anyone else gets it.

It hurts to be so negative towards something so great. But Paste seems oblivious to the underlying reality. This process is accelerating, not declining. When Paste’s FAQ says that "we’ve adjusted costs to survive our current levels of income, and we can’t imagine that getting significantly worse" I'd love to believe them, but nothing suggests this is actually the case. The opposite is true: they're becoming MORE reliant on subscriptions to pay for publishing to a dying format (print), even though their share of subscription dollars is CERTAIN to shrink further. They're dead wrong.

They're offering what they claim to be "Lifetime Subscriptions" for $350. While that seems like a lot, outrageous if they fold in the next year as it seems they're poised to, it speaks to how desperate the situation is. The truth is, no magazine that expects to be in business 5 years from now could make that offer. It's a desperate, last-gasp plea for mercy, not a realistic offer. Everyone would be better off if they just issued a stock offering - the risk is identical, but at least acknowledged for what it is.

Unless I'm missing something, Paste is already dead. They just haven't gotten the memo. "Save Paste" campaign might help them eek out a couple more print editions and dodge some refunds from subscribers, but it can't reverse the cancer. They require a wholesale reinvention with a new business model, not a tweak of the old model and some handouts.

Just in case I am missing something or if you just want to help, donating to the campaign is a half-measure. Purchase a regular subscription at the same time, and you're really cooking with gas. If you work at a company who benefits from their readership, buy ads. These are tangible, sustainable ways to help. More important, they refocus Paste's team on their real jobs, and give them some room to consider better long term solutions.

I don't want Paste to go away. It's a great publication. But if it's going to happen regardless (which seems inevitable considering their FAQ and flawed assumptions and plans), people should be aware of the situation, even if Paste is not.

9:37 AM  

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