What amazes me is that people still get all dewy eyed and soft when it comes to launching a magazine. I’ve spoken to three friends in the past three weeks who are ‘launching’ magazines and who have tried to either hire me at half my current salary, because ‘I’m Good’ or getting me to write for them pro bono. I had to politely explain to them that they’re not only kooks to believe that they can afford me, but I genuinely like ‘being in the machine’, because it helps with content creation because it gets me access. Anyway, enough about me and my complete lack of philanthropy and adventure, because I still genuinely feel that a printed product without a distribution strategy in place, no matter how ‘niche’ (read: elite) the audience, is one bound to fail. ‘Elite’ twats don’t pay for anything, you just have to start mailing them the magazine and then go to advertisers and say “this is our mailing list, can we now become your catalogue?”
I’m sorry in I sound cynical, but the machine is a highly evolved life-form and thee amniotic goo it surrounds you in feels really nice and warm. Just as long as you know you’re in goo. I’m sorry, it has been ten years since The Matrix, which I saw an advance screening of with my best friend Doc at the Russian Cultural Centre and still remember that both of us barely made a peep during the movie. Here is the thing, there are more and more magazines out there and many of them fill needs – such as porno magazines – believe me, despite the advent of online porn and dedicated torrent sites where you can download all of Sasha Grey’s movies there is a particular joy you have when you see titties in print. A joy that future generations of horny 15-year old boys will never know!
Magazines are great and the racks at Khan Market with thousands of titles show that there is hope, but I don’t know for how much longer for a bulk of the products. Trade magazines won’t go away anytime soon, and PR agencies will tell you that clients still have a bout of auto-eroticism when they see their thumbnail in a business magazine, a cover… well you don’t want o know. But that said, there are far too magazines that come and drop out too quickly and worse still several of the smaller magazines read like the Internet paraphrased, with only the occasional guy who understands a modicum of English. Most content is crap, with little genuine research or writing.
Personally, I don’t know how much longer the format will survive in its current form. As I said, porn has moved primarily online and so will the magazine, perhaps they will survive till the advent of colour e-book readers . But believe me; I’ll miss them when they’re gone. But despite the misplaced optimism of my friends, it is great that people still believe in the format. I just hope that the quality of magazines coming out was better. Just look at GQ India, a genuinely disappointing product, there is the occasional sign of sheer brilliance (and excellent photo-shoots) admittedly – but then again compared to the high-standards of GQ UK, you kind of expected this.
On another note, I’ve been accused of baiting Business Standard. Honestly, I’m not a fan of the product anymore (other than ‘Chinese Whispers’). It was and remains a decent product, but over the past few years, you can sense it isn’t the same. It was a great foil to ET, and had far superior policy coverage. But you need money to survive, and well, I don’t think Uday Kotak (guess who wrote about him recently) is putting any into BS, and I don’t think anyone is buying. Fact of life, deal with it. Money and funds are important for survival as is brand-building, no matter how passionate readers are, a brand on the down slope, need money to survive. Particularly, when the brands at the top of the game are losing money.
Hopefully, Baru might take it somewhere new. I don’t know. But honestly, it is losing the ‘top of mind’ battle. As I’ve said before, to each their own, we have a fantastic choice of newspapers, magazines and television channels, and you are free to consume what you want. Some you might feel are worse than others and some are genuinely bad – many of the Indic channels for example – I watched how they explained the ‘Loch Ness’ monster the other day – bizarre.
Anyway, over the next few weeks I will be travelling a fair bit, so I become irregular all over again, don’t start sending ‘hate mail’. Take care and be careful of what you read on the interwebs!