Paste Magazine Says, ‘Pay What You Want'; Will Being First in Line to Imitate Radiohead Pay Off?

By Bryan Wassel
10/29/2007
paste magazine

Proving themselves to be in touch with the cutting edge of the music industry, PASTE magazine today launched an initiative that doesn’t just reflect the music itself, but the bands and their practices. Following the success of Radiohead releasing their latest album (In Rainbows) for free, with a “pay as you please” policy of donations, PASTE is doing the same for a year’s subscription.

For the next two weeks, new subscribers and old readers can pay what they think an 11-issue, one year’s subscription is worth, from a minimum of $1 to above and beyond the standard $19.95 a subscription normally runs. Multiple subscriptions are allowed, and giving one as a gift is encouraged. In addition, anyone paying more than the standard price will be thanked in print, their names published in a future issue of PASTE.

PASTE hopes to attract new readers and make them regular subscribers, the theory being that they will stay for the content after coming in for a cheap price. They also note that as unconventional as the offer is, it gives them insight into just how much their regular readers think the magazine is worth.

The idea came about during a discussion about Radiohead’s new album and "Good to Great," a Jim Collins book that picked the most successful 11 companies out of over 1,400, and examined just what made them so great. The book includes various topics that seem to go against traditional business sense, much like this campaign.

The Radiohead album that this campaign follows, In Rainbows, was a critical success, although the band didn’t release how many copies were downloaded and how much was paid on average. What did happen was that fans managed to rush their Web site and crash it on the very day of the release, all without any signs in stores, press releases or endorsements. An unofficial source, however, GIGWISE, a UK-based Web site, pegs the album sales number at this point to be 1.2 million.

Those interested in a pay-as-you-please PASTE subscription should visit www.pastemagazine.com.