NEW YORK -- Retailers should not fear subscription sales stealing market share from their magazine racks, said the head of Vibe magazine.
"I believe the subscription business can help newsstands because subscriptions minimize rate-base volatility," said Keith T. Clinkscales, president and chief executive officer of Vibe/Spin Ventures here.
Speaking recently at the Magazine Publishers of America's annual Retail Conference in Dallas, Clinkscales said since its founding in 1990 Vibe has grown its circulation base from 15,000 to over 500,000 today.
"At no time during that rapid growth did we diminish the amount of equity that we put into newsstand sales ... Having a solid subscription base helps us make more money. If we make more money, we have more money to put into promotions and try different things," he said.
Clinkscales explained retailers should consider titles with solid circulation when selecting magazines, and those that are backed by publishers that treat circulation as a business. "If they can't make themselves money as publishers, how can they make you money?" he stated.
Today, in addition to Vibe, which is targeted to the young adult urban audience, and Spin, for young adult rock 'n' rollers, Vibe/Spin Ventures also publishes Blaze, which is targeted to adult urban pure hip hop.
Clinkscales said music magazines "LOVE!" newsstands because they are a close metaphor to a hit record.
"In the music business everybody tries to have hits, and in the magazine business it is the same thing. We always try to do better in the newsstand," he said.
Clinkscales said if newsstand sales perform well, then so do the other dynamics of the magazine industry, namely advertising and events.
"Magazines don't hum until they work off of newsstands. I believe that is because the magazine/newsstand relationship is probably the purest relationship that any publisher can have," Clinkscales said.