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Save Paste Magazine!

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The sad news of Paste Magazine’s financial troubles has been circulating the web the last day or so, but I figured I would make note of it as well to ensure that as many people hear about it as possible. Paste is without a doubt my favorite arts/culture review magazine currently available – an engaging synthesis of hipster idealism and intellectual energy, and generally guided by a passion for the past’s enduring value, Paste is a rare breed in the world of American media.

The folks at Paste seem to be guided by a passion for artists, that is, for the people who pour their lives, souls and energies into creating quality, beautiful, true art; fundamental to their work is the idea that the arts are life-changing and that in their efforts they too can change lives. And I suspect that they’ve changed many lives, in obvious as well as subtle ways.

They’ve certainly changed the lives of numerous grateful artists whose fortunes were significantly improved by the recognition that Paste paid them. And for those of us who are merely readers (even on a daily basis through their website), well, surely our lives have been changed, in some small way at least, by the art we’ve discovered in Paste’s pages.

It should come as no surprise that our current economic troubles would negatively impact a company whose primary income is based on AD revenue and marketable products. And as the recent shut-down of No Depression proves, the folks at Paste aren’t the only magazine folks in trouble. However, unlike No Depression, it seems that a brighter future is ahead for Paste Magazine – if they can get through the next months.

That’s where we come in.

If you haven’t yet, please read Paste’s letter explaining their situation and consider helping out:

Dear Paste readers,

We write this letter with great appreciation for all you’ve done for Paste, as well as sorrow that we need to come to you and ask for further support. The economy has taken its toll on Paste, and we need your help to continue.

As the global recession has continued, many of you have written us (especially as ad pages shrunk) to say, “If you ever need help, let us know.” That day has come.

Today, we are launching the “Campaign to Save Paste” to raise money to keep Paste coming to your mailboxes and computer screens. If you are in a position to give even a little, please consider donating. As thanks for your generosity, over 70 amazing artists (including The Decemberists, Neko Case, Bob Mould, Cowboy Junkies, Indigo Girls, The Jayhawks, Brandi Carlile, John Roderick of The Long Winters, Patterson Hood, The Avett Brothers and Josh Ritter—with more to come) have gathered and donated rare & exclusive MP3s for all who join us in the campaign.

As a completely independent company, Paste has struggled for the past nine months as advertisers have decided to wait out the recession. As most of you realize, magazines are heavily subsidized by advertising. Industry experts estimate that an average subscription for a monthly publication would cost $60-$80 per year without advertising support.

But last month was brutal. Cash received unexpectedly reached an all-time low, and turned a tough situation into a short-term crisis.

Long-term, Paste will emerge in good shape. Even with the fall-off at the end of the year, 2008 was our best year yet—print subscribers, print ads, online readers and online advertising were all at record levels. Readers (print and online) remain strong. And new advertisers have come on board even in the recession, with more ready when their advertising budgets come back.

In the meantime, we’ve adjusted our business to weather this storm. We’ve cut costs, and we developed a robust online business that’s among the best in the industry. Fundamentally, we’re in good shape and won’t need another appeal down the road. But it’s taken us until this point to get there—leaving us critically low on cash, without some large corporation behind us to bridge the gap.

We’ll make it through this short-term economic crisis—but it’s only with your help. Our fate is (and has been and always will be) in your hands. Big-time investors are not “in the game” right now—but readers can rise up and “invest” in Paste’s future. Will you be a part?

We appreciate all of your support so far—everyone who’s subscribed, given a gift, or even read a story online or opened a newsletter. It’s all enabled us to make it this far. Now, we humbly ask you to consider giving a little more.

It doesn’t take much. Every little bit helps and you can be a part of continuing our efforts to help you find signs of life in music, film and culture. If $1 (yes, one dollar) came in from everyone on our e-mail lists (or $10 from 10% or $100 from 1%), we’ll reach our goal and emerge from this recession as a stronger magazine and website. While we’re not a non-profit (this isn’t a tax-deductible gift), know that every dollar you give goes into keeping Paste alive and, ultimately, making it even better.

While you’re at it, also let us know what more you’d like to see from Paste. What should we do (or do better) online to help you discover new music, film and more? As advertising comes back and the magazine thickens, what would you like to see in print?

CLICK HERE to give via PayPal or credit card.

With our sincerest thanks,

Josh, Tim and Nick for the entire Paste family

PS. As thanks for your help, a number of our favorite musicians and labels have donated free rare & exclusive MP3s (from artists including She & Him, Arrested Development, Shawn Mullins, Samantha Crain, State Radio, Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3, Rogue Wave, Passion Pit, Over the Rhine, The Minus 5 and more) for everyone who donates. And as more artists contribute, you’ll have access to those songs as well. We also have a number of goodies (such as signed R.E.M. posters, an ocean-view cabin on next year’s Cayamo cruise, and more) to give to donors in random drawings. And, anyone giving $350 or more will receive a lifetime subscription to Paste as a thank you.

So there you have it. Hopefully can come through for them, and continue reading and discovering Signs of Life in music, film and culture.

**********

From Over the Rhine, on Paste:

“Paste magazine has been a much-needed gift to all who care about the future of American songwriting and creativity. While many other music magazines became increasingly celebrity-obsessed, Paste reminded all of us that the conversation could be redirected in imaginative ways: Who are the artists and writers, known or unknown, old or young, mainstream or indy, who can still delight and surprise, who deserve to be discovered or rediscovered? If we lost Paste’s voice in the overall conversation, we would lose more than we can imagine, or afford.”

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2 thoughts on “Save Paste Magazine!

  1. Anne O. Nimmess says:

    While the fundraising efforts of the Paste folks may well help them “get through the next months” as noted above, I think it remains to be seen whether that can actually save them in the long-term. The suggestion seems to be that the recession is at the root of their publishing crisis; but although the bad economy is certainly making things more difficult (for just about everyone of course), the demise of print-media very likely will extend well beyond any economic recovery. The industry model is essentially broken, for both newspapers and magazines (and especially niche magazines). Paste seems to be under the impression that their revenues will eventually turn upward again, but I just don’t know if that’s possible at this point, even in an improved economy. Not because of anything they’ve done, but because the notion of advertising-supported print-media is simply becoming antiquated. (And it’s not really any more viable on the web, at least unless everyone takes around a 75% pay cut.)

    Will be interesting to see how it goes for them, though. Perhaps it is just a recession-related slump that will be over when the economy improves. If not, though, the present Paste-saving measures will be temporary.

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