Aeve Baldwin took an unlikely path to music journalism. Burned out as a patent lawyer in Tokyo, she held random media jobs before being picked to head Relix by her friend who'd just bought the magazine. Baldwin revitalized it, taking its subscriber base from 1,300 to 80,000 during her tenure.
PRWeek: To what do you attribute the increase in readership?
Aeve Baldwin: The magazine filled a sort of need for some people. It's really a magazine for the music fan. And it's a magazine, in particular, for the live-music fan. There really was nothing else like it around, and I think we just managed to find our audience. We did a lot of grassroots marketing because that's where the audience is - they're online, they're at festivals.
PRWeek: What kinds of changes have you made to Relix?
Baldwin: When we first took it over, it was between 62 and 72 pages, black and white, [and ran] six times a year. We had 1,300 subscribers. Essentially, we redesigned it — we've redesigned it a couple times — we went to full color and increased the frequency. We now [publish] eight times a year. Our smallest issue is now 100 pages. And occasionally when we have special issues, we go up to as high as 140 pages. And we've managed to take the circulation to 80,000, and most of that in the last two years.
PRWeek: How would you describe your target audience?
Baldwin: They are really rabid music fans. Music is one of the most important things in their life, and they look to magazines and Web sites as a way of sort of narrowing the field down because there's so much stuff out there.
It's the kind of person who will quit their job to go on tour with a band, or they'll take time off in the summer to go to festivals. They download a lot, they buy a lot of CDs, and really they're kind of geeky about their music.
We go to festivals and we run booths there, and we talk to people, and we sell subscriptions. And we've done kind of an amazing job through just grassroots marketing.
PRWeek: Who do you think your competition is?
Baldwin: Our competition would be sort of the medium-sized music magazines like Harp and Paste. I don't really think Blender or Rolling Stone or any of those are competition because I think most of our audience is either not interested in those magazines or will read both. Especially with Rolling Stone, because they're one of the few who still manage to do the long story, the in-depth journalism.
PRWeek: Even if they have Justin Timberlake on the cover.
Baldwin: Exactly. That's a bargain they have to make with the devil I guess… put Britney on the cover three times in a year back when she was hot.
PRWeek: What do you think of the overall state of music journalism today?
Baldwin: It's a little sad from one standpoint, and that is, I really think we're losing the long-form journalism... because magazines just are not willing to give the space these days. And that's one thing where we kind of try and fill a void. We're not The New Yorker by any means, but we do run 5,000-word articles.
PRWeek: What kinds of interactions do you have with PR people?
Baldwin: [I'm in touch with] a lot of music PR people. I wouldn't mind actually hearing from non-music PR people every once in a while, too, because we don't do just music, we kind of do lifestyle or issues.
PRWeek: Any tips for PR people?
Baldwin: I guess the biggest surprise for me from PR pitches is that, a lot of times, there won't be any story there. There will simply be, "Well, so-and-so's coming out with a new album." Well, OK, so what? This is the music business, and that's what musicians do.
And I guess the second is, I think because we have this long history - we've been around 34 years, and we started as a Grateful Dead magazine - sometimes we are sort of trapped in this "older mode," or classic rock, Grateful Dead, or even jam bands. But we also cover new and emerging artists... so I would like people to think of us as a place for those stories, too.
In addition to the magazine, we also have a Web site, relix.com, that we're relaunching in November.
Right now it isn't anything to look at, but we're going to be adding a lot of different things; some subscriber-only content, and blogs, and the whole nine yards.
Preferred contact method: Aeve@relix.com
Web site: www.relix.com