Wolfgang’s Vault acquired music magazine Paste last week, adding another editorial layer to the San Francisco-based company’s business. The Georgia-based magazine had ceased production of physical copies last year and switched its emphasis to its website.
Since launching in 2003, Wolfgang’s Vault has constantly added complementary components to its core music memorabilia business. The company revived Crawdaddy! Magazine in 2007 and took a majority stake in live recordings site Daytrotter in 2008. It recently added recordings from the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco to an archive that includes recordings ranging from Gram Parsons and Newport Jazz. The Wolfgang’s Vault site offers music streams and paid downloads in addition to items such as poster art and music apparel.
Billboard.biz talked to Wolfgang’s Vault COO Eric Johnson about the acquisition of Paste and how the publication fits into the company’s overall business.
Billboard.biz: Why did you acquire Paste?
Eric Johnson: There were four or five key reasons we decided it made a lot of sense. The first, which goes back to why we’ve done any deals in the past, is that they have great content going back a number of years. It’s a combination of editorial plus a lot of audio and visual sessions. So there’s some really good content they’ve created in the past and are creating right now. The brand was appealing to us. It’s a really well known and well-liked brand in the music and entertainment world. All the user surveys and advertiser surveys have been really positive.
The team is a really solid group of people. A number of guys have been there since it was founded. They’ve gone through a number of iterations, but we like those guys a lot. From a practical matter, they’ve got really good traffic online. They’re doing over a million visits a month and will be a good compliment.
The last one we didn’t think about too closely on the way in, but after spending more time with them we saw the demographic is great for us. It’s in between the age demos of Daytrotter and Wolfgang’s Vault. These guys straddle those worlds pretty well. So we’ve got a good opportunity to start integrating content across all of brands and all our sites.
Billboard.biz: When you say it’s between Daytrotter and Wolfgang’s Vault, you’re talking about Daytrotter being on the younger side and Wolfgang’s Vault being a little on the older side, right?
Johnson: Exactly. Daytrotter starts in high school and runs up into the thirties. Wolfgang’s Vault starts in the thirties and runs older. The Paste audience falls in college through the thirties. So it’s a nice fit right between the age demographics of our two big sites.
Billboard.biz: Are there any plans to bring the print version back, or is this an online-only venture?
Johnson: The intent right now is to keep it online. We’ll be offering a digital subscription offering, which was mentioned in the press release. We tend to announce that around South By Southwest. I guess there’s always a chance you could go back to print, but we don’t think it makes sense right now.
Billboard.biz: It makes sense to acquire a magazine in terms of acquiring its readership and bringing them back to the site where there’s ecommerce. Do you think that this would be a smart move in general for magazines to belong more with ecommerce than operate as standalone entities?
Johnson: I think so. We have Crawdaddy!, which is an editorial site. Daytrotter is producing content with a mild amount of ecommerce there. And Wolfgang’s Vault is straddling the content/media side and ecommerce side. Our general view is that more touch points the better — that people are going to find information from a whole lot of different sources.
Clearly, a lot of information is being duplicated across a massive number of places, whether that’s Huffington Post just creating links, or Drudge Report and that kind of general news, or blogs posting a snippet of something and a link back. The idea of owning these different touch points makes a lot of sense for us — as long as it’s focused enough around the right kind of audience. So there’s a chance we could do more things like this. We’re going to take it slowly and make sure we can make this work first. But I do think there are really interesting opportunities to both repurpose content across different sites as well as provide contextual links back from an ecommerce point.