SPIN Magazine Publisher: Internet Didn't Kill the Magazine Star


Contrary to popular belief, the Internet hasn't killed every print form of communication. OK, maybe it will but that's beside the point. One magazine still standing - and standing strong mind you - is SPIN and last week they unleashed their 25th anniversary edition featuring an interactive, black leather biker jacket cover. Inside those pages are a bunch of guest contributors - sadly none of which are Wang or Chung. I spoke with the mag's publisher Malcolm Campbell about the super cool edition, and where he sees SPIN and rock going into the future.

Was there ever a time you believed a 25th anniversary was out of reach
Yes, I think it might have been around the 24th anniversary. No, honestly, we have never questioned the brand's longevity, but it has seemed increasingly odd as the anniversary neared because anniversaries and milestones are not top of mind around here. The mindset is more about the here and now, and what's going to be big in six months, so to have this big retrospective project took us a little out of our comfort zone.

How did you come up with concept for the cover?
We had early discussions more than a year ago where we talked about doing something special with the cover: a flexidisc (making a mag you could play on a turntable), a multi-paneled gate fold poster, a polybagged CD or other promo item...

We wanted a cover that was different from anything we've ever done or even seen before, so the idea of the perforated zipper cover evolved from that. The zip strip seemed like a fun way to start the issue and it gave the ad team something interesting to sell. The zipper is obviously a nod to the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers album cover, but the MC jacket--also a timeless icon of rock'n'roll cool--is something we tried to convey with the issue's contents.

It was also a great way to reveal the collection of SPIN covers underneath (on the "inside" cover). This is the first time a zip strip has been used for a major magazine cover.

Fresh. How long did it take you to put this edition together vs. previous ones? 
We've been working on concepts and ways to integrate the marketing, online and magazine since last spring.

Hot damn! What was your take on Rolling Stone changing their format a few years back?
Having been a long time fan of the Rolling Stone, I was a little disappointed. I liked the larger format. I also found their reasoning to be a little disingenuous. They were trying to do the Jedi mind trick thing by insisting everyone will love the smaller size because they'll reinvest the savings into a thicker magazine. Yeah, that happened.

Moving on to the bigger picture, who is the future of rock in your humble opinion? Explain.
There are so many more qualified people here to answer that question, but in a general sense I am very bullish on the future of music. There is just so much vitality and variety in music, that it bodes very well for our consumer. But, if you were to hold my feet to the fire, I'd personally say Jim James from My Morning Jacket will only get better as time goes by.

Who should quit their day job?
Sarah Palin. Oh, wait, she already did that.

What are your five favorite albums of all time, and why?
I'll defer to our current SPIN.com list of the 125 Best Albums of the Past 25 Years (http://www.spin.com/25years). I'll take my editors' suggestions every time.

Nice...Do you think print publications will soon give way to iPad and online versions only or do you think there will always be a need for print?
Hence the question that publishers lay awake at night thinking about. Personally, I think the iPad will be the salvation of many publishing companies, and as content providers, we will increasingly migrate to the digital format. That said, print isn't going away tomorrow. In fact, if you cut through the hype and look at the research, print readership is quite healthy, and the effectiveness for expressing a marketer's message in print is incredible.

Where do you see SPIN changing in the future?
Our business model will always continue to evolve as the marketplace provides new opportunities, but the mission of the product should never change.... SPIN will always be the authoritative voice of new music.