Today the world lost another print publication. Paste magazine published its first issue in July of 2002. Now eight years later, we say goodbye to one of the music industry's best. How can a magazine go from being touted as one of the 50 best magazines, and magazine of the year, to just "focusing on its digital assets" (Pastemagazine.com)? Paste has become the latest victim of our instant gratification culture.
The folding of Paste has become the current mirror image of what our culture has done to compact discs, vinyl and album art. The consumers of today no longer want to take the time to read a magazine or listen to a whole album. They instead choose to get their quick fix immediately, i.e. online, by reading music news about a particular artist or by downloading the specific track they want. They consider any excess to be a waste of time. In my opinion, this is what has dismantled Paste.
But what this instant gratification culture is missing is that a.) not everyone has innately exceptional music taste, b.) not every has the time or know how to access quality music that fits their current genre obsession. Much like how not everyone can be a professional graphic designer just because they have Photoshop. We need filters. We need an expert to show us what is excess and what is quality. Paste was this expert. Paste gave us the guidelines that helped us experience variety without getting overloaded. Paste helped us discover new artists, songs, and genres without pushing our boundaries too far. Don't get me wrong, Paste can still offer all of this in a digital format, but what it won't be able to offer is the forced consumption. We will no longer be able to pick up the latest issue and look at it from cover to cover with all aspects included, even ones we dislike. By offering forced consumption, a music magazine has a leg up on online media. Think of it this way. Let's say you bought an entire album just because you liked one song. After listening to that one song on repeat for days, you ventured into the rest of the album. After listening to the entire album, you ran across the best song of your life. Well, that would never have happened if you hadn't bought the album, now would it? If you just bought the single, you would not have learned about any other tracks on the album. Forced consumption in the magazine format is the same. It leads you through a maze of possible favorites; whereas, online only leads you through what you already know.
I, for one, already feel the loss. And while this is a sad day, it's only a fraction of what's changing in music. Independent vinyl record shops are closing, music publications are struggling to get by, radio stations are becoming obsolete and the entire music industry is having to reinvent its marketing strategy.
Born Ruffians, Say It (2010)