SCRATCHED: Is this Spin’s last stand? The music magazine’s transformation into the fanzine of the Seventies rock-redux movement has done nothing to slow its three-year slide in ad pages, and chairman Robert Miller has apparently had enough. Vibe/Spin Ventures chief executive officer Alex Mironovich, who had been acting publisher, and Spin associate publisher Michael Zivyak both resigned under pressure Monday and Miller, who is based in Los Angeles, appears ready to get his hands dirty selling ads himself.
Miller, a former Time Inc. executive, will be joined by former Budget Travel publisher Jacob Hill, who certainly has experience doing more with less.
This story first appeared in the February 24, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“This could just be a last ditch effort by management,” said a source close to the magazine. “The thinking is: ‘Let’s give them a respectable ad sales team and try to turn things around a little bit.’”
But then what? Miller is under intense pressure himself from his backers at the venture capital firm Freeman Spogli to show some sort of return on the $100 million it gave him in the mid-Nineties to build what is now Miller Publishing. He bought the company’s crown jewel, Vibe, from Time Inc. in 1996 for just $20 million, but forked over $42.5 million for Bob Guccione Jr.’s Spin a year later. He nearly had to give them up just two years after that, when Freeman Spogli forced him to put the pair on the block for around $200 million. There were no takers then, but Miller flirted with selling again in late 2000, when the future dot.com flameout Urban Box Office came calling. The potential price tag then was said to be just over $100 million. what would the pair be worth now?
While Vibe has held steady since then on the advertising front, resisting up-and-comers like The Source and XXL, Spin has slowly been crushed by the twin pincers of Rolling Stone and Dennis Publishing’s upstart Blender, which actually finished 2003 with more pages (673) than Spin (661). Keep in mind the latter finished 2000 with 1,211 pages, when editor Alan Light and publisher John Rollins were still at the helm. Perhaps seeing the writing on the wall for the sector, they left together in early 2002 to start the older listener-skewing music magazine Tracks, which launched last fall. — Greg Lindsay
THE FINER THINGS IN LIFE: Quintessentially Magazine, a spin-off from the high-end Quintessentially concierge service cofounded by Ben Elliot, debuts Wednesday and will hit newsstands in Britain and the U.S with a $7.50 cover price on Friday. Members will be sent the quarterly magazine as part of their membership.
Published by new firm Luxury Publishing, the magazine has an initial print run of 35,000 copies, 4,000 of which will go to members. The magazine will be available at selected newsstands, including Barnes & Noble in New York.
The magazine is tipped as “a contemporary take on what the good life is about,” and subject matter will range from insiders’ guides to nightlife in New York and London, to looking at life on a stud farm. “Our members are very diverse and enterprising people,” explains Lucia van der Post, editor in chief of the magazine and the former editor of the How to Spend It column in The Financial Times, “and we want the magazine to reflect their quirky enthusiasms. These people are short on time, and the magazine will be about featuring offbeat experiences they can enjoy, rather than obvious, brash ways of spending money.”
The magazine is edited by Catherine Peel, who was managing editor of American Express Centurion magazine, with contributors including Sophie Dahl and stylist Bay Garnett. Van der Post hopes that the range of features will attract everyone from readers of Vogue to readers of classic car magazines. “We certainly hope that we’re not aping anyone, and that we’re actually creating something quite unique here” says Van der Post. — Nina Jones