My (Re)generation: Paste’s Nick Purdy on the Fall and Rise of a Music Magazine

When Paste Magazine announced it was folding its print edition in September 2010, most probably assumed they had seen the last of the acclaimed music journal, which had enjoyed healthy growth from its founding in 2002 until the economic downturn gutted its advertiser base. Instead, a savior appeared in the form of archival live music, video and memorabilia purveyor Wolfgang’s Vault, which bought the assets of Paste Media Group in January 2011 and immediately set about helping Paste plan a relaunch—this time, as a digital only multimedia publication.

The new Paste, launched in beta in June and set to roll out this month as a subscription product (at 99 cents per issue or $36 annually), is delivered via its “mPlayer,” a unique Web-based interface delivering downloadable music, reviews and feature articles to a subscriber’s Inbox 48 times a year. At launch, Paste said the mPlayer “opens doors for the integration of visual and audio content and reader/social interaction in ways that were impossible through print.” We asked Publisher Nick Purdy to explain how the new Paste will deliver on this promise.

Inbox: What does Paste provide the music fan that other channels cannot?

Nick Purdy: A developed point of view, combined with excellent curation across multiple media forms, all delivered in one elegant package. Our tagline, Signs of Life in Music, Film & Culture, has guided us since we launched the magazine in 2002 and continues to this day. Our readers trust us to help them discover new music, to write about it in an intelligent way and to give them a chance to experience that music. In the past we did that with a sampler CD. Now we simply pair streaming (and downloadable) music and exclusive video with features and reviews.

Inbox: The mPlayer seems to be the heart of the magazine (the main way readers engage) rather than an extra selling point (like promotional singles or CDs inserted in magazines in days of yore).

Purdy: The mPlayer IS Paste magazine. Or, to be more precise, mPlayer is the delivery mechanism for the same Paste which was delivered via paper 63 times over eight years. When we announced the mPlayer, we actually referred to the “return of Paste magazine.” Some might quibble and say the magazine is only the printed version, but the magazine, to us, is the content. We’ve been agnostic about delivery mechanisms for a long time now. The mPlayer was developed to answer the question: “How would we create Paste from scratch using current technology and taking into account our audience’s preferences?” Starting from scratch is why mPlayer doesn’t resemble any other digital magazines. What’s in it, though, is what matters. Thoughtful editorial content combined with incredible audio and video.

Inbox: Why did you choose this approach, and why do you think it has proved so successful?

Purdy: We started down this road when print became unsustainable for us. The mPlayer however, allows us to fulfill our original vision in a way print never could. We want our readers to experience the pop culture we tell them about, and now they can, especially with the inclusion of video. People are loving mPlayer because it’s intuitive, attractive, simple, and fun. Some of the visual metaphors are familiar—the media player is reminiscent of iTunes and the table of contents looks like a bunch of app icons from a smartphone. But the whole package works together seamlessly, and introduces some new ideas that seem to make sense to people, like the option to link what you are reading with what you are hearing.

Publish date: September 1, 2011 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT