Paste launches "name your price" subscription campaign

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Paste magazine kicked off a new subscription offer this week, allowing consumers to name their own price for a one-year subscription to the music and entertainment glossy.

For a minimum of $1, new readers can sign up and old readers can renew their subscriptions, which include 11 issues of Paste and the Paste sampler CDs that come with the magazine each month. Gift subscriptions are also available in the offer. Those who pay more than the usual cost of $19.95 will be thanked by name in a later edition of Paste.

The offer is aimed at college-age readers, and a large portion of its marketing is online and in college magazines. The name-your-own price offer is in synch with another college favorite: the band Radiohead, which released its newest album, In Rainbows, under a similar price structure.

Paste editor-in-chief Josh Jackson claims the offer was partially inspired by the band, which is rumored to have raked in $6 to$10 million on the offer. Fans paid an average of $5 to $8 to download the CD.

"We'd be en sort of kicking around ideas, and part of this comes from the fact that we have a pretty diverse age range among our readers," Jackson continued. "We have a lot of fans that are college students, but they're not a huge part of our subscriber base. When we talk to people, it keeps coming up that the magazine is so expensive, so the questions was, æHow do we get people to sign on?' We are a small company and can make decisions just to see, æHey, what would this do?'"

Even if the promotion fails to bring in revenue, the added subscribers will be a boon to the ad-supported magazine. Advertisers and other magazine execs seem intrigued by the name-your-price model, said Jackson.

In another move to woo advertisers, Paste started printing on 30% recycled paper last week. Previously, the magazine printed on 10% recycled paper.

"It's an investment, but I think it's a good one," he said. "There's a real, valid pressure from advertisers, and I think magazines are starting to listen." Some advertisers, he added, will advertise only in magazines that print on recycled paper.

Paste, based in Decatur, GA, was named Magazine of the Year at the 2007 PLUG Independent Music Awards. It is one of the fastest-growing independently published entertainment magazines in the country. Jackson said he expected growth to continue; he hopes the magazine will eventually hit 500,000 in circulation.

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