When Paste Magazine suspended print publication last summer and scaled down to a bare-bones editorial staff, it certainly seemed like the magazine's final breaths. It looked at first like yet another entry in a grim list of magazines simply unable to survive in the digital age. During that year, Paste maintained daily updates on their website, but there was no place for the long-form writing about music, film, books, and culture that the magazine had become known and loved for during its eight-year print run.
However, Paste is back with an innovative, weekly digital format called the mPlayer, short for magazine player. See below for a short tour of the mPlayer's clever design:[jump]
Paste launched a Beta Preview of the mPlayer on June 28, and the actual subscription service will start this September ($36 for a year's subscription of 48 issues - not bad at all). For now, you can simply "log in" using your Facebook or Twitter account to try it out for free. Ads will start appearing in the mPlayer later this summer, so there's no telling how they will affect the design. Right now, here's what it looks like:
During their print run, Paste became known as "the magazine with the free sampler CD." Every month, the CD included tracks from the bands written about in the magazine, a clever move that eliminated the process of searching out the music they covered. Paste has preserved this feature in the clean design of the mPlayer as well.
The player controls at the top automatically sync up a song from the artist covered in the article: for example, you can read their piece about Gillian Welch while the player automatically queues up a track from Welch's most recent album. Naturally, you can pause and skip too, to enjoy one at a time. You can also download mp3s of all songs featured on the sampler as well, just like the old CDs.
So far, the only downside is the way the player prompts you to switch articles when a song finishes - you can turn it off, but it's nice to read and listen at your own pace, too.
The mPlayer still contains all of the numerous other highlights of Paste's print version, too. There are weekly columns, letters from the editor, review of books, television, movies, music, and videogames, long-form features, and even some exclusive performance videos and mp3s. The clean, tablet reader-inspired design allows you to "turn pages" like you would in a magazine, or to simply select what to read from an index.
According to their press release, the magazine was revived by Norton LLC, which also runs the Illinois-based mp3 site Daytrotter and ConcertVault. Content from Daytrotter and exclusive performances will also become a part of the mPlayer as well.
Tim Regan-Porter, Paste's president, developed the mPlayer, and from here, it looks like the most viable way for a smaller, indie-yet-mainstream magazine like Paste to survive. The combination of all of their content is superb: much like their sampler CDs did in the past, the mPlayer eliminates the process of searching out the exclusive video or mp3 on Paste's website after reading about it in the magazine. With the mPlayer, it's all right there. Read more, and try it out for free here.