Punk Planet wasn’t just a music mag. It encompassed all corners of the punk lifestyle, defining what punk was broadly. From an industry standpoint, Punk Planet seemed to have a business model other magazines were jealous of. They had all sorts of advertisers from indie record labels. And they weren’t dependent on any one advertiser. If someone pulled out, they could go on because they had so many little ads from so many people.
But in the end, there weren’t enough. In his goodbye letter, founder Dan Sinker cites dwindling advertising and subscribers, as well as a bad distribution deal, as reasons for folding. The distributor they used, Big Top, went under, leaving many mags in financial crisis. Punk Planet is just the latest victim.
Are independent print magazines able to survive in this internet age? The cost of printing and distribution are so high. And people seem to expect free content, which they can find online. Personally, I really like having a magazine in my hands. I like reading them on trains and buses. I like the way they look and feel. At Hyphen, we put a lot of emphasis on the art that goes with our stories. We run big photographs and illustrations, spacious layouts -- things we can’t replicate as well online. But I’m probably in the minority. Even if you have the most beautiful magazine in the world, are people willing to shell out money for it?
The traditional magazine business model doesn’t seem to work anymore. Subscriptions and advertising just aren’t covering costs. It seems that magazines that are hanging on, like Giant Robot and ReadyMade are doing so with the help of non-magazine revenue. Giant Robot has its stores (and a restaurant even). ReadyMade publishes books.
Well, goodbye Punk Planet. I understand why you need to go. It’s a harsh climate for us indie magazines. Wish you didn’t have to.