F+W Media Taps Power of Alternative Distribution
This week F+W Media announced a unique distribution partnership with URP Music Distributors. The vinyl record distributors will place F+W’s magazine Goldmine, a music title geared toward record collectors, in over 600 independent record stores. The initial distribution of the title will launch on April 22nd, also known as Record Store Day.
The Goldmine distribution story is a great lesson for every publisher and gives me some fond memories of publishing times past. My first two publications, one in New York called The Express and one in Arizona, called The Mountain NewsReal were from a media species then called the underground press. I was in my early twenties and we had no rulebooks or mentors, so my partners and I just made up "procedures" as we went along.
One of the things we explored was not only publishing an alternative newspaper but also alternative distribution. Our papers were distributed not on newsstands, but in retail outlets, hair cutters, bars, clubs, college dormitories, rock concerts, head shops, and a dozen other non-traditional publication outlets.
The same theories held true later for us at High Times magazine. In the beginning no wholesaler would distribute the controversial title, so we needed to create alternative distribution outlets other than traditional newsstand. We did so to great effect and extremely high sell through numbers.
It is the non-traditional aspect of this story that modern publishers should consider. The old newsstand outlets are diminishing, with rare exception. Each sales report is down by double digits from the year before. It seems to me that creative, new distribution outlets like the ones that Goldmine found are the way to offset some of the lost circulation. I know that many niche titles today do this very thing; they distribute their publications where their readers are rather then where their readers aren't.
Bob Sacks (aka BoSacks) is a printing/publishing industry consultant and president of The Precision Media Group (BoSacks.com). He is also the co-founder of the research company Media-Ideas (Media-Ideas.net), and publisher and editor of a daily international e-newsletter, Heard on the Web. Sacks has held posts as director of manufacturing and distribution, senior sales manager (paper), chief of operations, pressman, circulator and almost every other job this industry has to offer.