UPDATE: The New York Times says that Blender‘s Web site, blender.com, will continue on, keeping with the tradition of most shuttered magazines.
EARLIER: Today just became a sad day for fans of monthly music magazines and the talented entertainment journalists who work for them: Blender is folding, its publisher Alpha Media announced today. The April issue with Kelly Clarkson on the cover will be Blender‘s last. Editor-in-chief Joe Levy, who just moved over from Rolling Stone last year, will become the editor of Maxim, Alpha Media’s only remaining title, replacing the existing editor, Jim Kaminsky, who is leaving the company.
We’ve long been fans of Blender, which was both hysterical and seemed to cover music the way people actually listened to it. The mag also seemed to be attracting the cream of the crop of music journalists, poaching freelancers and editors from Spin and Rolling Stone, Levy being the latest defection. But, as Blender‘s ad pages kept noticably shrinking and the value of monthly music magazines began to dwindle due to more immediate access to content, it seemed likely Blender was in trouble.
Alpha tried to build Blender’s circulation, pushing its paid-circulation guarantee to 1 million from 800,000 at purchase. But copies distributed to public places such as waiting rooms grew the fastest, from 13,000 copies in the second half of 2007 to 100,000 a year later, according to company reports with the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Paid subscriptions fell 8% to 768,000, while newsstand sales declined 18% to 44,233.
Ad pages at Blender also plunged 31% last year and another 57% from January through April, according to the Publishers Information Bureau and Media Industry Newsletter. Monthlies as a whole, by comparison, sank 12% last year and another 22% through April. Ad pages at Maxim fell 11% in 2008 and 37% from January through April.
But even more surprising is the fact that Blender bit the dust before its scrappy competitor Spin, which apparently still exists. Spin suffered so many staff and design changes a few years ago that it seemed destined for the magazine industry graveyard. How it’s still afloat is beyond us. It does have a pretty snazzy Web site now, though, which might help.
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