Friday, September 3, 2010

Why Paste is Like Cheap Beer and How it Affects Me

I wasn’t going to say anything about the demise of Paste. I was just going to let others do the talking, and there’s a lot of talking being done. But then I came home to eat dinner with my family, and all of these words just started flowing out of my mouth. I couldn’t believe it, while at the same time I could. We knew the magazine wasn't doing so well, but how could something so treasured and so special and so, ugh, just vital to my music culture just end?

I had to explain to my parents what had happened. I spent the entire meal doing so. They all see me daily, obsessing over new albums that come in the mail, and music magazine subscriptions. They know how I covet a job in music journalism, and I get morose about not having one almost every day. And my dream job of all dream jobs… that would be working at Paste. I didn’t and still don’t think that any publication was doing what Paste was doing. I can’t even fathom that that will never happen – I will never write for Paste. It. Is. Gone.

I love blogs, and I love being all viral and internet-y, but despite what the numbers and subscribers and state of journalism and economy all say, there is NOTHING like holding a fantastically-crafted magazine in your hands. I was a broadcast journalism major, and I see the value in video, audio, and multimedia. I still hold magazines on some kind of pedestal. In my childhood, getting something like Highlights in the mail was the best feeling in the world. Wasn't it for you? It’s like getting a really entertaining present every month. I might have grown out of play-doh and barbies, but holding a magazine in my hands, I get the same kind of thrill that I did when I was opening a new bead-making kit.

Paste had some of my favorite music writers out there. Rachael Maddux, Bart Blasengame, and the list goes on... to the point that I don’t even know their names, I just know I loved their work. I had friends who used to find every single piece of new music they listened to from Paste. I gather my tastes from such a range of things (friends, music writing I'm assigned, radio stations I work for, random side gigs as music director, blogs, itunes, hype machine, friends, friends, and oh yeah, magazines), but if you were just going by one source, Paste would be a pretty good one.

It gets scarier and scarier as journalism continues to crumble away and die a sickly death. Arts journalism is a special case, and now that I’ve started reading ARTicles, I get even more scared for the future of culture/art journalism. How will great writers develop when they don’t have any publications left to write for? What will we have to read instead – US Weekly? I gag at the thought.

So many people blame Pitchfork for adding to the demise of magazines. You can’t blame Pitchfork. They are great at what they do (and what they “do” can be defined in several ways – positive AND negative), but people aren’t like “oh I’m only going to go to one source for music journalism.” It’s like saying you like Blue Moon, and you’re not going to drink any other beer for that reason. You’re going to drink different beers in different situations. Yet if Blue Moon gets way cheaper (ok free), and you still have to pay for your PBRs, the model will certainly shift. And that’s when PBR has to just keep on pushing and remind people of why they are so loved. PBR has to become free, in a way, or it better make itself a lot better than it already is. I mean, seriously, journalism is like beer. You can drink for free online (Blue Moon), but you have to pay to drink magazines (PBR). And people just want to get drunk as fast as possible. So, the change really must be in the culture. Let’s figure out a way to get people to realize, it’s not about getting drunk – it’s about enjoying the experience, and maybe spending a little bit of money to engage in an activity that is worthwhile.

So everybody, stand on your platforms, and start rallying for the end of binge drinking! I’m all about the slow and steady, enjoy-the-ride drinking. I'll even pay for it.

Because we don’t want to lose any more Pastes.

1 comment:

  1. It is sad to see Paste and other arts magazines slowly dying off. But what's funny to me is that, three years ago, my journalism professors would tell us that the only way print journalism can survive is through niche publications. But now, almost every niche is online too. It happened quickly and publications either refused to deal with it (most newspapers) or couldn't deal with it. Now it's too late.