Words of wisdom

Web site? Magazine? It's both.

The magazine trend that began years ago with Yahoo! and eBay is still going strong.

Joining Yahoo! Internet Life and eBay magazine in the printed world are Music.com and the Romp, two sites that are now trying to extend their reach to fickle auds.

The dream is, of course, to become a diversified media company with profitable online and offline assets; a feat attempted by many but accomplished by few.

Bowing online in 1998, Music.com provides music information, downloads, chats, free e-mail and online radio.

Launched as a joint venture with Florida-based specialty publisher Milor Entertainment Group, the new 140-page Music.com publication, which hits stands April 2, will focus on the convergence of music and the Internet, as well as new products and broadband applications.

Milor chief exec Michael Fagien, who founded jazz publication “Jazziz” in 1982, will head print operations

“The magazine targets new consumers who are always looking for the new gizmos, appliances or software,” says Philipe Bellosguardo, president and CEO of Music.com.

Music.com’s book targets new advertisers as well, as print mags have not been hit as hard by the softening ad market as their online brethren.

“Most advertisers are simply more comfortable with print ads because they have been doing them for almost a century,” says Bellosguardo.

However, Music.com isn’t relying solely on traditional media with its new venture. Music.com will come with a CD-Rom, which will include songs and software.

“The CD will be the link back to the dot-com world,” says Bellosguardo, who’s looking for potential partners and advertisers in the Web world as well.

Launching quarterly, Music.com hopes make its publication a monthly in 12 to 18 months. It’s first print run will be 250,000.

Another joint venture, online entertainment company the Romp partnered with H&S Media for its print version, a 48-page mini-mag packaged with men’s magazine “To the Maxx,” hitting newsstands on Feb. 20.

Impressed by the Romp’s raucous and ribald content, H&S Media approached the Romp in Oct. 2000 with a cross promotional deal, agreeing to put the Romp’s in print if a “To the Maxx” mircosite appeared on the Romp.com.

According to Romp co-founder Bruce Forman, print was a perfect fit for the Romp’s Webtoons and “Girl of the Week” videos, both of which translate easily to a print format.

“A lot of people in the online entertainment space are trying to move into the TV or movie (arenas),” says Forman. “We want to do that as well, but for now, a print magazine better fits our sensibilities. We can reach more customers without a big production cost.”

Aside from printing, production costs for the Romp mini-mag were virtually non-existent. “We repurposed our story boards and created new content for our already-known characters,” says co-founder Eric Eisner. “The production was already there. We just put it into a different format.”

Never an ad-heavy Web site, the Romp hoped to capitalize on a new crop of mainstream advertisers, willing to pay for print promotional support in men’s magazine’s such as Maxim.

However, while print advertisers may have been more forgiving of the sexual conquests in the comic book rendition of “Bootie Call,” magazine retailers and wholesalers were not, according to Bob Baker, publishing director of H&S Media.

“The Romp’s content was too edgy for a lot of retailers,” says Baker.

Although H&S Media has discontinued the Romp supplement with “To The Maxx,” for distribution reasons, the company is considering a Romp stand alone pub, depending on audience reactions to the mini magazine’s premiere issue.

“It’s really up to the market to decide,” says Baker.

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