From Our Too-Bad-But-Hardly-A-Surprise Department
Especially in the publishing business, a loyal subscriber base, street cred and a distinct market niche can mean jack squat in the fight for survival.
Such is life, or the end of it, for the print version of indie music mag Paste, which made it official yesterday that it's gonzo.
I was one of those who coughed up some bucks to help save the magazine back when it was on life support a couple of years ago. It was one of those feel-good, grassroots stories, you kind of expected Jimmy Stewart to come out and deliver a homily about angels getting their wings.
But the patient remained sick. The subsequent issues were painfully thin. The record labels were hurting and all those small labels just didn't have the dough-re-mi to let Paste whistle a happy tune to its bankers.
This leaves people interested in keeping up with what's hot and fresh for the artists who depend heavily on Americana and Triple-A radio airplay (e.g. Sufjan Stevens, The Hold Steady, Okkervill River) that much more difficult, especially with the apparent demise of the samplers that were available with each issue. I know that I purchased CDs after hearing sampler tracks, and I trust that I wasn't unique in that regard. With that pipeline shut off, bands are going to have to hustle that much more for attention, not to mention concert bookings and album sales.
To show how troubled the music business is, Paste was unable to survive even though it was the last mag standing in this genre, after Harp folded in 2008, following the lamentable path of Tracks and No Depression.
For now, there is at least pastemagazine.com, which will remain active. It's something, true. But for indie artists and their fans, it likely won't be enough.