My (Re)generation: Paste's Nick Purdy on the Fall and Rise of a Music Magazine
Purdy: The mPlayer IS Paste magazine. Or, to be more precise, mPlayer is the delivery mechanism for the same Paste which was delivered via paper 63 times over eight years. When we announced the mPlayer, we actually referred to the "return of Paste magazine." Some might quibble and say the magazine is only the printed version, but the magazine, to us, is the content. We've been agnostic about delivery mechanisms for a long time now. The mPlayer was developed to answer the question: "How would we create Paste from scratch using current technology and taking into account our audience's preferences?" Starting from scratch is why mPlayer doesn't resemble any other digital magazines. What's in it, though, is what matters. Thoughtful editorial content combined with incredible audio and video.
Inbox: Why did you choose this approach, and why do you think it has proved so successful?
Purdy: We started down this road when print became unsustainable for us. The mPlayer however, allows us to fulfill our original vision in a way print never could. We want our readers to experience the pop culture we tell them about, and now they can, especially with the inclusion of video. People are loving mPlayer because it's intuitive, attractive, simple, and fun. Some of the visual metaphors are familiar—the media player is reminiscent of iTunes and the table of contents looks like a bunch of app icons from a smartphone. But the whole package works together seamlessly, and introduces some new ideas that seem to make sense to people, like the option to link what you are reading with what you are hearing.
Inbox: What does Paste tell us about how to launch a successful magazine amid today's incessant media noise?
Purdy: I'm not 100% sure we know the answer to that yet. I can say that the most important thing we've done in the past decade is to develop a brand that people trust. The Paste brand means something to a lot of people and by remaining faithful to that, it gives us the opportunity to evolve. Every feature (or delivery mechanism) will eventually be copied if it's any good, so the mPlayer itself isn't the right place to hang our hat. We continue to challenge ourselves to surprise and delight a readership who trusts us to be their guide to discovering and sharing the best that pop culture has to offer. So in short, to stand out in the current media culture, you have to stand for something, and you better deliver.