Being Multiplatform Is the Only Way to Stay Alive With Fader's Andy Cohn

Digiday Podcast


Welcome to the digital podcasts and brian morrissey this week. I'm joined by andy kern andy as president and publisher of the feeder which is celebrating its twentieth anniversary serie any welcome. Thank you for having me brian. It's great to be here okay so twenty years. You're not a failure at the time though you were at spend competitor right. Yes i was at spin and then i was at the source magazine yeah right around the time. Is this a different era for magazines right. It sure was so lots changed since then but the fighter has continued right and still magazine bimonthly but now i would guess it is a multi-platform brand. Yes it is multi platform because that is the only way for us to you. Know stay alive okay. I think i got there. I've been there sixteen years now. <hes> and came up through the more traditional you know the time period of print magazines were revenue was essentially if not a hundred percent ninety percent an advertising supported through print advertising and then maybe some events here and there some newsstand sales for some of the stronger newsstand publications ends and that was really the beginning of the end of it <hes> from a revenue stream standpoint and it was a boom period <hes> especially in music because as you head spin and vibe and the source and brands really starting to embrace hip hop as marketing platform and vehicle so <hes> <unk> brands as big as you know general motors ford coke and pepsi it wasn't just the street where brands anymore that were starting to really embrace that culture and <hes> to leverage you know the those that genre of music for marketing advertising so <hes> i think for those publications and what ended up happening is they became so heavily driven by circulation and celebrity and who was on the cover and had to just be as big possible artists as you can imagine the other you know jay z on the cover of the source or your radiohead and coldplay on the covers of rolling stone and the fader and <hes> the bigger the circulation got the more you can charge for advertising pages so zaveri simple business model you know at the time which <hes> changed as we all saw <hes> you know especially <hes> brown two thousand eight so it was two thousand eight the big inflection point yeah i. I think it's interesting because coming over to fater <hes> i came over in two thousand three at the time it was a quarterly publication which is what we're actually back to now <hes> and they the guys that started it were from the music industry so they started fater more out of access to music because they were doing a lot of non traditional early early day street team digital marketing for record labels for specific releases so they would have the first outkast album before it would be serviced to survive vibe or a rolling stone or is it then they didn't have print or journalism or magazine experience but they had this access and felt like they needed the document cemented so that's how feeder started <hes> was based on this early access so started as an emerging music magazine where it was artists that you weren't really that familiar with yet which called plan cover no coal plan the cover at the time it could have been at some point at some point so what what was interesting to me because i was a journalism major in college i grew up with my father was a newspaper editor at newsday and a writer you know for forty six years and i was obsessed with <hes> you know just music journalism and when i came out of college i got a job at spin on the business side of the magazine and you know it was. Was it like you said before. It was a very different time is very circulation driven. The whole business model was based on selling ads growing your circulation and your rape base so for me what happened was is because of that. I was at points in time at both of those publications where they were either sold <hes> quincy jones and and the people <hes> bob miller bought spin and brought it into the family with vibe and the source hit such a big mass kind of mainstream removed that you know to go up from there is hard and you have to really do things that weren't in your dna and your original mission statement so what happened was isley. Spin spin is an example is where it was the quote unquote alternative to rolling stone. They were putting artists like p._j. Harvey and tori amos and you know rage against the machine on the covers when rolling stone was now starting to put david letterman and buffy the vampire slayer as they were trying to become so big and more of like and entertainment weekly than an actual music and cutting edge lifestyle magazine which was in one thousand nine hundred sixty eight and for its earlier years so i think the example is when spin got sold. They started putting a lot of pressure to grow the circulation because it wasn't an independent privately held company any longer by bob optus tony junior who is a big music fan and believe in you know promoting these kind of upcoming artists they started putting kid rock and creed and natalie attlee imbruglia and really experimenting with very mainstream things that never fit or seem to fit with the original mission statement was for spin <hes> so you know you can call it selling out but i think what it did was alienated. The core audience of those music publications that came there for something in the first place and then those magazines evolved because of the business pressures so you know put became much less of a challenge much more predictable like you knew jay z. He had an album coming out he'd be on the cover of the source you know so that's like and then in ninety nine ninety eight you started hearing things like lime wire napster during the internet and all of a sudden those long lead publications couldn't really compete with the discovery nature of music anymore so they by the time these the longley publications came out everyone already listened to anne knew about a new of everything that was going on through the internet so you know when i was growing up as an older person had to go into record stores to find you know different genres of music and it was very intimidating. If you hurt someone talk about dancehall you're like dance all for for that now. Dancehall type it in two seconds and you're listening to dancehall like through napster and lime the accessibility to music and all of these genres were so far reaching now that it usurped. I think the purpose of the longer lead you know print titles so when fader first came out was really interesting and caught my eye was that the first issue i saw was the third issue had had most f- on one side and back with the angelo together on the other side and and i didn't really know of who those people were and i thought it was really interesting so i think that around ninety nine when fader started hit this inflection point where the kids were now growing up with accessibility to every genre of music there was not like spin the alternative music magazine ad source and x._l. The hip hop magazines you you know it was here's something that's really reflecting of. What's kind of going forward you know and in multiple genres of music like someone even myself i was i call myself from the walk this way generation which is seeing you know the convergence of rap crossing over into the the mainstream and i think you know starting to really get into music in nineteen eighty six in one thousand nine hundred seven all that just became like second nature to when i was listening to led zeppelin classic rock or public enemy and rock him and you know the fat boys and the beastie boys and run dmc. It was all l. cool to me. It didn't matter it wasn't segmented so i think when failure came out it kind of like captured this moment in time that was really well well timed <hes> because it was speaking to people that had that accessible so it had some kind of advantage over some of its bigger competitors that had gone very broad. Yeah i think what fader was at that. Moment was what was kind of a combination of the best of all of those other publications from when they first started and with what their original missions were when you look at spin starting in nineteen eighty five and rolling stone starting in nineteen sixty eight they were counterculture. They were edgy. Spin was writing and hiv aids column which it was crazy at the time you know very alternative rolling stone. Had you know a crazy investigative journalism pieces and p._j. O'rourke and all those hunter thompson awesome you know the things that they were doing so i think it just you know fader came out with this like fresh voice that was speaking like a and not to sound cliche but he was speaking to this new new generation of really hardcore music fans but the same kind of secular pressures i guess as they call them in the business world you know were exempted right. I mean in two thousand and two thousand nine <hes> if particularly if it's print advertising driven <hes> music industry's gone through a lot of changes <hes> explain that inflection point and sort of how the business needed to pivot because a lot of a lot of competitors didn't really make it as they were or made it in in shrunk informs ripe right. I think being that failures mission was to cover kind of what's next in music and knowing that we weren't going to be able to rely on celebrity for any kind of real scale or mass reach. I think early on <hes> we were very <hes> very interested in doing events and like not only just putting an artist that you've never heard ever seen before on the cover of national magazine but also like doing events bringing those artists out to perform live and finding ending ways obviously early days internet to continue the conversation online so it wasn't just like you were an emerging print magazine and then had to move onto the next issue you talk about a whole new host of people you're able to like start building the brand in other ways and be a little bit more diverse so i think because we did events early on and it gave us a like a real strategic advantage in that everyone then started to do events and i think we had an expertise and ability ability to do events that became a huge ultimately a huge revenue stream for was his fader fort back fater four was just eighteen years gold <hes> and i think that's become you know it's become a one plot digital platform for us like almost like a second brand go to to the fader <hes> but in two thousand eight when print advertising was decimated we were able to kind of lean lean more on these events and really lean on the fact that the events gave us a little bit more of like a multidimensional approach because we couldn't we wouldn't wooden of survived if it was just the print advertising or just going online or going online because there was display advertising even at that point in time was <music> very you know <hes> is very <hes>. It was unknown territory. The dollars were like pennies on the dollar versus what that the meaningful meaningful print advertising before collapsed was you know so like from a c._p._m. Standpoint from a total gross revenue standpoint it didn't it's not like one. Just filled filled the gap on the other side so for us. I i do point to the fact that we did tons of events and were able to really like you know you get brands involved on a multiplatform level <hes> so i guess like ten years ago or so probably ninety percent print right y- yeah yeah so what is it today. <hes> percentage wise print is probably i would say in like the twenty to thirty percent of the total revenue pie. <hes> experiential is probably the biggest experiential in video because through video. It's that means not only only us creating our own proprietary fater video but we also do a ton of white label video content for big brands so that come to us for ours boris that iq our ability to understand how to work with artists so companies land access to the art and i think that's the the real like magical thing about failure of over the years i think when you strip everything away is the artist access that we have because we have double down on these artists so early on in their career when no one else is giving them that type of platform yet that we've been able to establish these you know great long running relationships with both those artists and their management and not not have to go through agents or middle middleman like give an example of that an artist the the stuck with for i mean they were smaller. I guess when you started working <hes> i mean artists like i think drake is a great example <hes> just because of how he is and how big it's gotten he did make it. I think it started at the bottom apparently <hes> no but drake used to come up to our office and plus music and he was a great guy and very humble <hes> and you know he almost kind of sold us on you know <hes> on his his skills and we started we did a blog post you know of one of his early songs and it did really well and then <hes> and we put him on the cover in two thousand nine. It was his first. I ever magazine cover. We went up to toronto. You went to the nursing home with him to see his grandmother mother. We spend time at his house. <hes> and we just did like a lot that i think no one had done with him at that point because he wasn't really anyone yet and i think that's what our dna really is is like kind of curated and identifying people that we believe in their music and their longevity of

Coming up next