It's been a while since the last one of these (almost 8 months in fact!), and there have been some changes. In December, Coverage became Subsail's blog and newsletter. (Subsail is my magazine subscription platform). However corporate that sounds, Coverage is still a personal publishing project by me, Dan, don't worry!
I've got big ambitions for Coverage this year. The idea is to graduate the newsletter from a bi-weekly email-first publication into a big-hitting indie magazine blog, with interviews, opinion pieces and magazine making guides, talking with publishers as well as others in the industry, like shop owners and distributors. I want to touch on the whole spectrum of indie magazine making and I hope you'll enjoy the ride!
This newsletter will now serve as a curated and more personal version of the blog, bringing you the best content right to your inbox. And exclusive magazine discounts, of course!
In this first issue back, I talk with Courier editor and ex-Monocle Daniel Giacopelli, Steve from Stack about the tools he uses for his subscription business, and I look at some hip music titles that you can read for free online.
P.S.: I'd be really interested to hear what you think about all the changes! Just send me a quick email reply.
And make sure to check out the new blog, featuring all previous Coverage features plus some recent new editorial at subsail.com/blog/
Courier editor Daniel Giacopelli on the magazine's growth and ambitions
Daniel Giacopelli is the editor of start-up/business/culture magazine, Courier. It's one of my favourite magazines and a title I draw a lot of inspiration from as a business owner and general independent business fan. What started in 2013 as a free newsprint title focussed only on London, Courier has dramatically changed and evolved over the last couple of years into one of the most exciting (and now much more global) business-focussed indies on the market. (Check how the format and covers have changed on Magpile)
— Dan R: You've worked at Monocle and Courier, two of London’s most well-known business culture magazines. How did you get into magazines? Why do you work in publishing? Daniel G: It’s a funny one. I never planned to have a career in media or magazines at all. As with some of the most worthwhile things, it just sort of happened, pure serendipity. In 2010 I’d moved from the suburbs of New York, where I was raised, to London, for a one-year master’s programme in War Studies at King’s College. I’d always been an international relations nerd, having studied it at university and working in various internships in the field. After King’s I planned to have a career in government or at a think-tank. The goal was always to return back to the States. When the programme ended and it came time to find a job, I got hooked on staying in Europe (I guess I should now say the UK). There were too many things I still wanted to do and see here. I was always a big Monocle reader and saw they were hiring for the inaugural team that would go on to build Monocle 24, their 24-hour radio station. I applied and ended up staying there for more than 6 years, first as a researcher, then producer and presenter. I had my own podcast, The Entrepreneurs, where I travelled around the world interviewing all the amazing business founders I could find. It was a wild and fun time. I first discovered Courier when it was a free magazine stocked in good coffee shops around London. I was starting to get itchy feet at Monocle. I was 30 at the time — still relatively young! — and had a lot I wanted to do before I became part of the furniture. There’s a danger of staying in any one place too long; you start to grow roots. So, I jumped ship, joined Courier and I’m now the editor. We’ve since completely ripped up the magazine and built it up again, going from a free title to £5 and we’re now sold in 26+ countries. We have absolutely giant plans for Courier. We can’t wait to unveil them. It’s never a dull day.
DR: As you mention, Courier has in the last few years stepped up its game and expanded its coverage from London and the UK to the world. Why did that happen and has it worked out?
DG: We’re building the defining media title for people who want to live and work on their own terms. Our readers were once almost exclusively in London’s startup and creative scenes, but our potential audience is much, much larger. The world is a big place. That means our coverage had to evolve geographically as well. Our latest issue is as international as you can get: a Native American denim brand is on the cover, and we’ve got features on everything from a South African surf company and an LA-based Filipino street food stall to one feature I’m really proud of focusing on the positive impact on the economy that first generation immigrants make with their various entrepreneurial pursuits.
DR: With its more international approach, how does Courier fare in other cities? Is it well received around the world? DG: We’re on sale in 26 countries around the world and have subscribers in more than fifty. But we’re really just getting started. When we transitioned away from a free title, there was a worry our readership might not follow us, but in fact the opposite occurred. The positive response has been overwhelming. Our audience are mostly millennials or Gen Z readers – 20-somethings and 30-somethings – who represent a new wave of business founders. They’re the most entrepreneurial demographic in history, they live and breathe ‘side hustles’, they travel often and love new experiences, and they’re hungry for guidance, inspiration, tools, advice and insight to help them along their journey. No media brand today, from legacy business titles to new lifestyle ones, meets the needs of this new hustling generation who are working and living in radically different ways than they were only five years ago. The existing titles are either too luxury, too tech, or too anachronistic. Courier is the magazine for this demographic — whether they’re in London, Berlin, Detroit, Sydney or Taipei.
DR: Courier as a company is hosting more events and working on non-publishing projects. Do these endeavours help grow the magazine or are they just a natural extension of the brand? DG: We’re a bit spoiled in that there’s so much we could do. But when we’re looking at where to focus our energy, we zone in on areas where we feel we can really make a difference, coupled of course with where we feel we can make money. There are other reasons we do things, too. Events are a fantastic way to meet our audience. We held our first-ever Courier Live event last autumn. 1,500 paying guests attended an afternoon of panel discussions, keynote talks and workshops, and shopped at our brand marketplace. For a media title like ours, focused on building new businesses, learning how to get started and discovering new brands, events are a natural way to build our audience. We also created a pop-up shop before Christmas. We’d wanted to experiment with retail for a while and a great opportunity came up. It turned out to be a real success and, again, a great way to meet existing readers and introduce Courier to new ones. This year there’ll be more of these projects and we’ll hopefully be able to start fulfilling requests from many of our international readers who never get to participate in our London activities. We announce most of these things in our weekly email newsletter, so stay tuned!
— ✨ The brand new issue of Courier is out now (£5). (Or scroll down for an exclusive discount!)
Indie mag tech: Steven Watson of Stack Magazines
I started a new series of posts looking at the tech that is being used to produce independent publishing today.
First up, we heard from Steven Watson of Stack Magazines, a subscription service that sends out a different magazine every month (subscribers never know what they'll get next).
On top of the subscription business, Stack has become an important voice in the indie magazine world, with a popular blog, podcast and annual awards ceremony, all aimed solely at covering and boosting independent magazine publishing.
As a monthly subscription service, Stack has some unique challenges and tech requirements. Alongside his all-important subscription engine and communication tools, Steve relies on a combination of written word, audio and video platforms to host the content for his blog.
Eight cool music magazines you can read for free on Issuu
Issuu is a fascinating online magazine platform, where publishers upload their magazines for people to read either in a web browser or through the Issuu apps. I integrated Issuu into Magpile back in 2012, allowing users to read the magazines they were discovering, and it proved a popular feature. Ever since, I've always found Issuu to be a quirky and interesting place to browse; the collection of magazines ranges from passion projects, corporate brochures, supermarket magazines, Premier League programmes, zines and even bootleg copies of major newsstand titles.
Here are eight music titles which you can peruse at your leisure, totally free...