R.I.P Paste Magazine, Print Edition; We Hardly Knew Ye

09/04/2010

Yesterday, Paste Magazine, the classy, glossy Decatur, Georgia-based music magazine called a halt to its print publication. For more than a year, the indie publication had been struggling under the weight of mounting debt and the exodus of advertising — and the flourishing of digital music outlets and blogs.

In 2007, Paste attempted, a la Radiohead, a pay-what-you-want subscription model, which led to the magazine openly asking readers for donations last year to save it from going under.  As publicity of the magazine’s struggles grew, campaigns were launched by some celebrities and musicians that Paste had covered over the years to stir up support for the pub, but these efforts came to a depressing close yesterday.

Paste offered an official statement yesterday on its website, saying that it will be taking a “hiatus” and suspending print publication, though it still hopes to live on through its “digital assets,” specifically, its website.

Paste debuted in 2002 as a quarterly and quickly found its niche covering indie music and culture, gaining a reputation as a tasteful, design-oriented magazine and oftimes took shots for its righteous pop-cultural coverage from its detractors. Yet, in spite of its short lifespan, Paste managed to become a fairly big player in the music industry, receiving nominations for National Magazine Awards for general excellence each of the past three years.

Printed on thick stock and artfully designed, Paste has always been a pleasure to read aesthetically and, over the years, it built on its unique design, drawing many accomplished music writers into its bullpen. Like many other music publications, Paste may have come to rely too heavily on the “listicle” and we all know that speculation over what went wrong for Paste — and print publications in general — will continue for quite some time.


However, as Editor-in-Chief Josh Jackson told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution this week, “We don’t see this as the magazine being dead. We just see it as taking a break right now.” So, although we’ve all heard these somewhat melancholy words at the end of doomed relationships, on the hopeful side, the magazine’s digital incarnation has drawn a considerable amount of readers, and I imagine that there may also be some hope for Paste on the iPad and in other digital realms.

So, here’s to raising a toast and firing up a brassy New Orleans dirge for a great music mag. May music journalism learn from these episodes and become all-the-more resilient for it!