Archive for November, 2013

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Pitchfork In Print – Why A Successful Online Magazine Is Adding A Print Prong To Its Repertoire. Mr. Magazine™ Talks To Pitchfork President, Chris Kaskie, About Collectability And The Romance Of Print

November 27, 2013

Pitchfork Review Cover Romancing Print… one Pitchfork at a time!

Pitching print, the online entity, Pitchfork, a successful daily Internet publication devoted to music criticism and commentary, music news, and artist interview, is excited about the tangible nature of their new ink on paper magazine/journal-type publication. President of Pitchfork, Chris Kaskie, believes the time has come for the music website to broaden its horizons. And instead of print being a step back into the dark ages, Kaskie thinks the time has come for a more “collectible” counterpart.

Not that he doesn’t believe in the permanence of digital, but more along the lines of celebrating long-form content and the creativeness of print design. His excitement about the new publication is contagious as he talks about cultivating music fans from all generations and allowing them to share in the same creative words of music he hears in his own head.

So sit back and enjoy Mr. Magazine’s™ interview with Chris Kaskie, President of Pitchfork as he talks about impacting music fans with the new “collectability” of a printed product.

But first the sound-bites:

On why Pitchfork is delving into print when other publications are going to a digital-only format: The way in which we’re going to go into print is a little bit different from people who are steering away from it have done. A lot of the places that are getting away from print have long since been print first, digital second businesses.

On whether print gets a ten out of ten rating when it comes to a publication’s sustainability: It’s a headier idea of what we would probably end up giving a 10.0, which is just the idea of celebrating music, celebrating long-form content, celebrating beautiful design and trying to do that ourselves and putting our own little impact on the world for fans who would hopefully be interested in it. It’s more about that than giving print a perfect score because everything has its flaws.

On the fact that humans love that sense of physical ownership: Well, the idea of ownership has obviously changed and I think the processes haven’t changed as much as the definition. Just like Pitchfork is a magazine and has been. If you read it on the internet, you’ll never be able to own it beyond your computer or your phone.

On whether or not the print publication is trying to reach the same audience as the digital version: To be totally honest, there’s not a strategy with regards to who we’re trying to attract with this other than music fans. Our creative team here works on ways to further the way in which people engage and how to read and contextualize the stuff that we put out there.

On what’s next for Pitchfork after this brand expansion: But in terms of specific growth ideas beyond that, now that we’ve accomplished a few things this year whether it is event-based or focusing on the international, there are a few things that we’ll continue to evolve, but at this moment I can’t think of anything that’s going to be like, “Hey, this is where we are next.”

On what keeps him up at night? So that’s what keeps me up at night, just how to keep that going. Because there are some seriously brilliant people working here who will continue to work to transform the way in which people think about Pitchfork and other media like Pitchfork in the long term. And to be leaders and innovators in that and continue to have respect for our audience is paramount.

CK headshot 1 2013And now the lightly edited transcript of Mr. Magazine’s™ interview with Chris Kaskie, President of Pitchfork.

Samir Husni: When magazines like Paste and Spin fold their print editions and they say they are going to be online, you’re doing just the opposite. What gives?

Chris Kaskie: The way in which we’re going to go into print is a little bit different from people who are steering away from it have done. A lot of the places that are getting away from print have long since been print first, digital second businesses. There’s a lot of, which we’ve even learned in our small example, overhead that comes with that. There are roadblocks and frustrations that come with getting something into print and putting it out there. It gets expensive and when you scale to the point of where they had probably scaled with their print circulation, it was probably financially untenable.

At the same time, we were working very hard to create and redefine what it means to be a magazine in a digital publication on the web. And as we continued to do that it was always taking cues from the history of print and being inspired by it. But recognizing that there’s disposableness just like there is with magazines, or newspapers; you get your monthly copy of a magazine and it’s just a normal, glossy thing and you read it and you toss it. It’s not something that you feel like you want to keep.

We stepped back and we said: we really don’t want to do a magazine, per se. It’s more like a hybrid between a journal and a book and a bit of a magazine, but something that’s worthy of collecting and putting on your bookshelf for a long time and referring to over the years and complementing what we’re doing everyday online and how fast we’re working. So creating modest goals and expectations of what we could do there from a business standpoint was obviously important and putting creativity in the quality of content and design first and also making sure we create sustainability with how we operate, that was really our goal. And we’re in the beneficial position of having a successful digital publication, so taking some of the cues from that and understanding what people would want and treating ourselves like the music fans that we are, that love music media and love it in all forms and what kind of things we might want to keep for ourselves in doing that.

To draw a very loose parallel to the way we created our music festivals, there are a lot of music festivals out there and we’ve been doing ours in Chicago for about ten years. Why get into music festivals? Well, it’s really so we could indulge ourselves and create a festival that we would want to go to and is a perfect example of our perspective and it’s pretty fun.

Samir Husni: One of the things that I’ve read is that you’re giving print a ten out of ten, referring to the most revered rating system you give to bands and music; are you really giving print ten out of ten?

Chris Kaskie: Well, instead of giving print per se a 10.0, I think it’s giving the idea of permanence, and there is permanence on the web, mind you, and it’s the same thing. All of our content would be available to you forever on the internet as long as the internet is still online. So the permanency is there, it’s just more in the way you’re engaging with it, thinking about it and contextualizing it. Just like people download MP3’s and subscribe to streaming services, music seems much like probably websites seem, like they’re moving very quickly, and you can go from one thing to the next very quickly, and of course it’s the way we all live our lives and we’re very happy to live our lives celebrating that, and if you’re a band, it’s the equivalent of putting it on vinyl and having someone buy your record and putting it on the record shelf. Then you would know you’re going to have that record forever, even though it’s on your iPod.

It’s a headier idea of what we would probably end up giving a 10.0, which is just the idea of celebrating music, celebrating long-form content, celebrating beautiful design and trying to do that ourselves and putting our own little impact on the world for fans who would hopefully be interested in it. It’s more about that than giving print a perfect score because everything has its flaws.

Samir Husni: But how about that sense of ownership? I’ve heard this so many times, that as human beings, we like to own physical things and having my music on my iPad or iTunes; it’s still not there, it’s not mine.

Chris Kaskie: Well, the idea of ownership has obviously changed and I think the processes haven’t changed as much as the definition.

Just like Pitchfork is a magazine and has been. If you read it on the internet, you’ll never be able to own it beyond your computer or your phone. You don’t own your MP3’s, you might have bought them, but you’re basically borrowing them and downloading them and they should exist as long as your device exists.

There’s something romantic about, not print per se, but the idea of having something that is tangible and that you can celebrate and enjoy. The festival is a good example too. You can’t take the festival home with you, but having that experience is something hard to replicate. It’s more of a celebration of all that we do and all that we want to do and taking the cues from how to create a business around it that makes sense and is sustainable and doesn’t overstep its bounds and how to choose the content that we publish and the way its presented, designed and the people that we get to work with.

It’s a very romantic idea of owning it and being able to contribute is really the goal versus saying that we have a publication that we’re releasing, which is great and it will continue to be good because we have that, but it serves a different purpose and all the purposes are equally valuable.

Samir Husni: So are you trying to reach the same audience that you have now on the web or on digital?

Chris Kaskie: To be totally honest, there’s not a strategy with regards to who we’re trying to attract with this other than music fans. Our creative team here works on ways to further the way in which people engage and how to read and contextualize the stuff that we put out there. If you’re a music fan and you like to buy records then this is the same thing.

It’ll take some education for someone that’s less attuned to that. My nieces who are sixteen and seventeen years old don’t really think about magazines like this. They don’t think about books or journals and they don’t think about the care that something like this is given and put together with. But that’s as much of a relevant audience for this as someone who’s older or is more attuned to buying records because they understand what this means.

It’s a fun balance because it can both satiate the desire for someone to have something to collect as well as provide inspiration for some kids who really like what this means and the idea of inheriting their Dad’s record collection.

It’s more of an ideal that’s being targeted than it is a specific group.

Samir Husni: As you expand the brand, now you’re everywhere; what’s next for Pitchfork?

Chris Kaskie: As we expand the brand, in 2013 we accomplished a lot we wanted to do. There was a lot for a long time that felt like something we wanted to do, but we didn’t need to do and that’s the way we’ve been appropriately able to grow our business presence.

It’s the constant goal of having what we do in the context of where people are experiencing music and where they want Pitchfork or where they’re listening to music and having Pitchfork be a part of the conversation, for lack of a better term, of what’s happening when someone’s gauging and listening to music or reading about music.

So if you’re on a streaming service, you have no clue, if you open up a digital streaming service or something, where to go. It’s just like going to a restaurant that has 55 pages on their menu; you have no idea where to start or end. And that’s where we fall in. So it’s being in places like that as much as it is having Pitchfork everywhere. And continue to be strategic.

But in terms of specific growth ideas beyond that, now that we’ve accomplished a few things this year whether it is event-based or focusing on the international, there are a few things that we’ll continue to evolve, but at this moment I can’t think of anything that’s going to be like, “Hey, this is where we are next.” We’ve just peppered the world with a whole lot of stuff and we’re doing it all by ourselves. We’ve got to make sure this all works.

Samir Husni: What keeps you up at night?

Chris Kaskie: What keeps me up at night? Beyond my children? What keeps me up at night is the fact that we are reaching a point which is inevitable where there is a lot that, at one point, the same way that I, and I hate to say run my family, but I think about the way my family works; you look at things and you say, “Do we want that? Do we need that or do we want that?” And most times it’s that you want it and don’t need it and just don’t worry about it. And you do what you need to do and you create a good life for yourself.

So that’s the goal of Pitchfork is to make those decisions the same way. A lot of stuff looks fun and may be great, but we don’t need to be doing that. But that stuff is converging now and being an independently owned and operated company that has our hands in different things and just keeping everyone inspired and everyone that works so hard for us to continue to be inspired and have our audience. And to think about ways to innovate, instead of thinking about things we want to do and may not need to do. And now it’s like what we need to do is actually what we want to do.

This year alone we did our third Pitchfork music festival in France, we did our ninth Pitchfork festival in Chicago, we launched a film publication, we launched applications, the Pitchfork Review, which we’re talking about now; so that’s a lot for us, giving that we have under 50 people working for us full time and limited resources.

People look at you and say, “Wow! Pitchfork is huge.” But we’re also like a little family that’s just trying to do our best.

So that’s what keeps me up at night, just how to keep that going. Because there are some seriously brilliant people working here who will continue to work to transform the way in which people think about Pitchfork and other media like Pitchfork in the long term. And to be leaders and innovators in that and continue to have respect for our audience is paramount.

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The Global World of Magazines: “There is Not That Much Difference in the Way Readers and Users Migrate Between Platforms and Formats for Content,” Says John Relihan, CEO, Media24 Magazines, South Africa. The “Mr. Magazine™” Interview and a Report from South Africa.

November 25, 2013

Bringing My Passion For Magazines To Every Continent – Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni Circumferences The Globe With A Visit To Cape Town South Africa And Media24 Magazines

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Cape Town, South Africa: Now that I have presented and shown my passion for magazines on every continent on God’s green earth (Africa was the last of the six major continents to visit thanks to Egbert De Waal’s invitation from Media 24 Magazines in Cape Town, South Africa), I’d just like to express how extremely thankful I am for the opportunity and how I am truly blessed to be able to fulfill a dream that started at age 9 in my birthplace town Tripoli, Lebanon. It is an achievement that I am both proud of and excited about.

Audience first has been, and continues to be, the message I am preaching locally, nationally and globally, to anyone in the magazine and magazine media world who’s willing to listen and who’s eager to bring common sense to the magazine publishing industry.

Visiting South Africa, I immediately learned that magazines are the same all over the world and the problems and challenges are also comparable. Much can be learned from the media’s one common theme: staying relevant to your audience. Because without the audience, it doesn’t matter how good your content, which platform you utilize, or how many times you reinvent yourself; you’re just ink on paper or pixels on a screen without someone to flip the pages or click the mouse.

I had the opportunity to ask John Relihan, CEO, Media24 Magazines, a few questions regarding magazines and magazine media in today’s current marketplace in South Africa. His answers, not surprisingly, are as relevant to the remaining five major continents as they are to his own.

So sit back and enjoy the “Mr. Magazine™” Interview with John Relihan, CEO, Media24 Magazines, South Africa:

John RelihanSamir Husni: What do you consider to be the major challenge to magazines and magazine media in today’s South Africa’s current marketplace?

John Relihan: Staying relevant and useful in reader’s lives

SH: How are you addressing those challenges and what is the solution you are focusing on?

JR: There is no single solution. In an emerging market many people encounter magazines on a regular basis only when they have a fixed income and improved standard of living. For them affordable, printed magazines are very relevant, whilst the middle layer is increasingly opening a window onto the world via the internet on affordable smart phones (we provide our content on this platform and on paper) and the top end seek a different, more sophisticated reading experience with the ability to aggregate and curate what they read, and where.

SH: Do you consider printed magazines as the major source of revenue for you, today, tomorrow and in the future?

JR: Certainly for the next five years. But there has been great growth in subscriptions to our magazine content in different digital formats. Subscriptions to digital editions (PDF format) already represent a quarter of our (Media24 Magazines) subscriber base. For the local industry at large, digital editions still only represent 1.4% of total paid circulation (ABC: July – September 2013).

SH: Is there such a thing as a unique magazine problem to South Africa?

JR: No – the environment we compete in and current state of the economy is what it is. And except perhaps for the scale, there is also not that much difference in the way readers and users migrate between platforms and formats for content locally and elsewhere in more developed markets.

SH: What keeps you up at night?

JR: Apart from the Chihuahua’s minuscule bladder? How to keep track of our readers’ changing consumption habits and to adapt content, products and structures to stay relevant and useful.

SH: Thank you.

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“The Power of PRINT Integrated.” Five Views on the Digital Future of Print and Paper. Reliving the ACT 4 Experience (Part 8)

November 25, 2013

Now that the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 4 (Amplify, Clarify, and Testify) Experience is one for the history books, the Mr. Magazine™ Blog is going to showcase the keynote speakers and panels that took place during the two and a half days Experience.

In part eight of Reliving the ACT 4 Experience five leaders in their respective fields offer their vision on where and how the future is shaping up for integrating print with the digital world. The presenters and the presentations are in the order that they appeared at the ACT 4 Experience on Thursday Nov. 7:

John Puterbaugh, CEO, Nellymoser: A Brown Printing Company

Gregg Hano, CEO at Mag+

Daniel Dejan, National Print & Creative Specialist, Sappi Fine Paper

Ed Knudson, EVP, Sales and Marketing, Digimarc

Erik Hannema, Product Manager Creative Services, Sanoma, The Netherlands

Enjoy and do not forget to save the date for ACT 5 Experience Oct. 7 to 9, 2014: The Future of Digital Starts with PRINT.

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“The Taunton Press Talks Content Optimization At Act 4.” An ACT 4 Experience Review by Linda Ruth

November 25, 2013

The Taunton Press Talks Content Optimization At Act 4
By Linda Ruth | Posted on November 19, 2013

“We can’t afford to pay for content if it’s going to be a one-time use,” said Jay Annis, VP of The Taunton Press, at the Act 4 Publishing Event at the Magazine Innovation Center at Ole Miss.

We were gathered to hear the ideas of the best and brightest of publishing professionals in a three-day workshop put together by Mr. Magazine himself, Samir Husni. Annis was there to articulate Taunton’s proactive approach to content in a time when the costs and monetization of content are proving challenging to many publishers. Taunton’s solution: To optimize the content through all the products that will serve its audience.


Read the entire review here
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Bo Sacks Moderates “THE FUTURE OF PRINT AND THE PRINTING PRESSES.” Reliving the ACT 4 Experience (Part 7)

November 25, 2013

Now that the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 4 (Amplify, Clarify, and Testify) Experience is one for the history books, the Mr. Magazine™ Blog is going to showcase the keynote speakers and panels that took place during the two and a half days Experience.

“THE FUTURE OF PRINT AND THE PRINTING PRESSES” was the title of the panel moderated by Bob (Bo) Sacks and included the following panelists:


John Bussolari, Lane Press
James Pilcher, Freeport Press
Gal Shweiki, Shweiki Media
Michael Simon, Publishers Press
Thomas H. Whitney, Democrat Printing
Steve Zdanowicz, Brown

Enjoy the panel below:

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Lynn Rosen Moderates “Creating Editorial That Sells.” Reliving the ACT 4 Experience (Part 6)

November 25, 2013

Now that the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 4 (Amplify, Clarify, and Testify) Experience is one for the history books, the Mr. Magazine™ Blog is going to showcase the keynote speakers and panels that took place during the two and a half days Experience.

Today’s feature on the Mr. Magazine™ blog is “CREATING EDITORIAL THAT SELLS” moderated by Lynn Rosen, Editorial Director, Publishing Executive magazine with panelists:

Vanessa Gregory, Freelance Journalist and Assistant Professor, The University of Mississippi
Mikki K. Harris, Assistant Professor and Multimedia Journalist, The University of Mississippi
Donna Levine, Copy Chief, Garden & Gun magazine
Steve Slon, Editor-in-Chief, The Saturday Evening Post
Franska Stuy, Editor-in-Chief, Libelle, The Netherlands

Enjoy the panel discussion below:

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All What You Need to Know About the Newsstands and Single Copy Sales. Reliving the ACT 4 Experience (Part 5)

November 22, 2013

Now that the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 4 (Amplify, Clarify, and Testify) Experience is one for the history books, the Mr. Magazine™ Blog is going to showcase the keynote speakers and panels that took place during the two and a half days Experience.

A panel discussion led and moderated by John Harrington titled “PRINT CONSUMER MARKETING IN A DIGITAL AGE” addressed almost all the questions that both publishers and marketeers are asking about the magazine single copy channel and the status of the marketplace. Leading experts in the field were at hand to answer the questions and provide solutions to the many problems that are present in this important channel of magazine distribution.

In the video below you will see and hear the following presentations as delivered on Nov. 6 at the ACT 4 Experience:

1) A CHANGING LANDSCAPE
John Harrington, Publisher/Editor, The New Single Copy

2) WHERE MAGAZINES ARE SOLD TODAY AND WHAT IS SOLD
Gil Brechtel, President, Magazine Information Network (MAGNET)

3) BALANCING CONTENT IN EXPANDING PLATFORMS
Jay Annis, Vice President, Trade Sales, Books and Magazines, The Taunton Press

4) RETAIL SALES MARKETING IN A MULTI-PLATFORM MEDIA ENVIRONMENT
Rich Jacobsen, President and CEO, Time/Warner Retail Sales & Marketing

Enjoy the presentation below:

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