You knew this was coming.
Paste magazine, which had struggled for some time from lack of advertising revenue, is dead… or at least the print edition is. Earlier this week, Paste abruptly let go all of its staff and closed up shop, with a note saying they may try to make it online a la No Depression, which folded a year or two ago in a similar fate.
It’s sad. The magazine’s heart was in the right place. It truly wanted to be the indie, hipper version of Rollng Stone. But the truth is, I lost interest in Paste a few years ago.
When it first came on the scene, it was hip and indie and strictly filled with just music. They consistently wrote about bands before they hit the mainstream. The issues featured a few interviews, but mostly it was filled with album reviews, loads of them. You could sit for an hour reading their reviews, and most of them I found fit my music tastes.
I remember the cover of the first issue I read – in 2003, Issue No. 8, I believe – very clearly: Josh Ritter, Erin McKeown, Sondre Lerche and Kathleen Edwards, all young, fresh faces on the music scene. The mag had gathered all four in New York for a photo spread and interviews.
I had heard of Josh and Erin, but was new to the other two. No other magazine was featuring these types of musicians. Rolling Stone was featuring nearly nude actresses or women musicians on their covers almost every month and lots of crap features inside. There were a few other mags, Harp, for instance, which had short stays and little interesting to say. No Depression was cool, covering the alt scene but didn’t branch too far into indie rock. Paste was a blast of fresh air. Oh, and I forgot to mention the free CD of music with every issue!!
Then along came the music industry meltdown. I don’t exactly remember the year, but I do remember what happened to Paste. I’m guessing music advertising began to diminish and Paste, trying to save itself, added movies, books and culture to its music content.
The Little Music Mag That Could started to become Just Another Magazine, a GQ for a hipper set. The number of album reviews shrank; where there were solely musician interviews, now there were actors, authors and other movers and shakers. I understood the move, business-wise, I just didn’t like it.
Then it ended for me: Michael Jackson’s glove showed up as an issue cover (No. 40, 2008). My indie mag was no longer. I had had enough. I bailed on my subscription renewal, and when No Depression folded and offered Paste to finish out that subscription, I rarely picked it up from the pile of bills on the table.
It is sad that Paste is gone; it’s sadder that the whole publication business is dying thanks to the Internet and advertising. I’m in the newspaper business so I feel the pain personally. So don’t forget to read your issues of Modern Acoustic when they are published… I think I can safely promise you (because I don’t accept advertising and therefore not making any money!) that it will always just be a music magazine … as long as I publish it.