A former student of mine, Gareth Main, has launched his own magazine, and on the whole I’m pretty impressed with his business model and online approach. Bearded Magazine covers the independent music industry, is free and distributed through shops, and already has a website and (well designed) MySpace page. Users can subscribe to receive email updates, view online PDFs (with hyperlinks – although these could be better signposted), sign up to an RSS feed, talk on the forum, browse the photo gallery (by band, venue, category or photographer – nice touch), and listen to podcasts. The user can also order a physical copy of the mag through a Paypal link
Gareth takes up the story:
“As we’re giving the magazine away in the shops I thought it would be important to be able to view the magazine online so that it can reach a wider audience than we can reach through print. We are running it by basically loading the pdf into the page so that you can navigate around the magazine like you would an ordinary pdf, including hyperlinks to bands’ myspace pages and advertisers’ websites.
Our online medium allows us to add additional extras we cannot get in the physical copy of the mag. This includes an exclusive podcast with cover star Matt Berry, podcasts about the magazine, blogs, up to date news, more reviews and features that don’t find themselves in the mag for whatever reason (usually that by the time the mag is released the newsworthiness will have diminished so we get it online instead). We also can manage a mailing list and RSS feed so that people know when the new issue is uploaded.
It has been a rip-roaring success thus far. We haven’t pushed the mag as much as we’d like to – that will come after issue one – but in the seven weeks we have been online we have had in excess of 5,000 hits and have a massive subscriber base – some of whom have even taken out a paid subscription for the physical magazine even though it is free to pick up in the shops. The money is worth it though – £25 for a year subscription, £3 an issue - both are cheaper than any other nationwide music mag and the magazine is made of better quality materials than any other music mag – probably because we don’t have a large publishing house’s pockets to line!”
There’s more about Gareth and the mag at http://www.mediacourses.com/news.asp?newsID=149