After putting out No Cover magazine for seven years, Mark Rasmussen suspended publication of his free all-music magazine in July. Now No Cover is back with a new format (all glossy), a price ($2.99), and a new focus (half music, half action sports).
"We actually have two covers. On one side it's the action sports cover. If you turn it over, it's our music cover. Unwritten Law is on our first music cover. Oceanside-based snowboarder Jon Schurke is on the other side."
The first issue of the new No Cover also has interviews with Atreyu and Shadows Fall. The new issue hit newsstands in 7-Eleven and liquor stores last week.
"We used to publish 30,000 copies. We are starting now with 10,000."
Rasmussen said even though the July issue had 64 pages versus the current 32 pages, "This one costs us a lot more to put out."
Although he said the new No Cover is distributed in 1200 outlets throughout California, he eventually wants it to go national. "We weren't losing money, but it didn't make sense to move forward when the music advertising dollars weren't there. The goal has always been to have No Cover become a full-color, glossy national publication distributed on newsstands. You are never going to be a national publication if you stay a free zine."
Rasmussen admits putting out a pop culture magazine is dicey.
"Revolt in Style is no longer. Where @ is gone. And [91X DJ] Jason Riggs did one that lasted three issues," he said about the S.D.-based magazines that have folded. "This is a tough business. Especially on the music end."
He said the entire music business has shrunk, and this includes ad buys. "There are free downloads [of songs off the Internet]. Everybody has cut their ad budget. That's why we now also cover action sports. You can't download a skateboard."
The current No Cover has ads from action sports brands like Atticus, Active, Vestal, and Ollie Pop.
No Cover will be published every other month during 2005. "Our goal is to go back to monthly."
Rasmussen said his biggest challenge as a magazine publisher came after he and his staff were locked out of their Carlsbad office in 2001.
"There were a lot of negative feelings when SpinRecords.com went under. A lot of people thought we were owned by them." Rasmussen said No Cover had been housed in SpinRecords.com's headquarters when that Internet company went bankrupt. The magazine's office is now in Bay Park.
"We were only with them for ten months. They let us use their office space and their trucks, and in exchange we helped get the word out about them." Regarding SpinRecords.com's founder Wayne Irving, Rasmussen said, "It was like he completely disappeared."
He said his biggest magazine competitor on the music side might be Alternative Press, which is based in Cleveland. "I remember seeing the first issue of Alternative Press in the mid-'80s. I'm from Cleveland. Our first issue looks just like their first issue."
Rasmussen suggested that his magazine's action sports competitors include Thrasher, Transworld, and Surfer.
"This is the only publication that goes for both music and action sports. That's our niche we're carving. And besides, there are some advertisers who can't afford Transworld but who can afford us."
Rasmussen also owns his own label, Whiskey Records. "We just signed [L.A. band] Victory Within and local hip-hop artist DNA-1."