Peeking At Paste

Paste Magazine Issue #23

Paste Magazine Issue #23

Last night I got a chance to poke around the Decatur offices of Paste, the independent music-slash-entertainment-slash-culture magazine with the free sampler CDs stuck to its face. Those offices were less what I expected and more what I’d hoped for: rough and reclaimed concrete floors, exposed ceilings, lots of shelving lined with lush CD boxed sets and sample discs from hopeful bands, high-dynamic-range photos of folks like Michael McKean and Jane Lynch in the lobby. Stylish and functional, but meant to be seen. My experience with actual workspaces had me expecting something with shallow carpeting, cubicles, and a drop ceiling. I love being wrong.

Instead of cubicles, I saw wide wooden desks with schmancy chairs, set out facing each other, in a wide workspace, ripe for throwing around ideas and the wads of paper they’re written on. For sure, it felt more NewsRadio than The Office.

Taped to one shelf was a happy card, presumably culled from some happy package, that read something like, Here is Spain music. I hope you enjoy. Ultimately, that’s the thing that made me admire the joint: From the back issues to the CDs, the place seemed designed around the appreciation of people’s work. The picture of Thom Yorke on the wall says they’re proud of their work. The little card from Spain says the same thing. It’s about doing something worthy of other people’s joy.

Or maybe not. To be clear, I’m romanticizing somebody else’s job, as we do, and I know it. But the offices made it easy to do, and I hope it helps the folks at Paste romanticize their own jobs.

Ultimately, though, the big eye-opener for me wasn’t the Paste offices but a revelation I had at the Paste website: Paste‘s digital edition. It’s the whole magazine, hyperlinked and free, online. The idea being, I guess, that the CD alone is worth the price of the mag so we get to have the rest for free. Or maybe it’s just the give-it-away-and-they’ll-pay-if-they-like-it Internet-marketing philosophy in action. Whatever. The magazine’s there for you if you want it.

If you’re like me, you buy it often at the newsstand and, knowing as you do how little newsstand sales actually help a magazine’s bottom line, you should just subscribe to the damn thing. So, actually, you know what? Hang on a second, I’m going to go subscribe right now… there. Done. I feel better.

1 Comment so far

  1. abby on September 10th, 2008 @ 2:03 pm

    I really enjoy Paste, and actually recently renewed my subscription. There are great articles, interviews, reviews, etc – and their love for music and culture comes across loud and clear in the writing. But I think the CD sampler is easily the weakest part of the magazine. Sure, each disc has one or two outstanding songs, but I think more often than not it’s mild, mushy singer-songwriter blah music.

    They are paid spots, and Paste does refer to them as "advertisements that sing." I see nothing wrong with helping out the bottom line, but I think in this case it detracts from the overall package. Maybe I’m being hypercritical, but from a publication as incredible as Paste, I feel constantly let down by the accompanying music.

    Great write-up, Will! thanks!

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