For Mark Rasmussen, the ten years he spent publishing the locally based monthly rock magazine No Cover (1997–2007) was ecstasy and agony.
“We gave blink-182 their first magazine cover in March ’98. We also gave Linkin Park, Reel Big Fish, and Pepper their first covers.”
He launched No Cover in Venice Beach. “L.A. was too saturated of a market. I had a friend down here in San Diego. I noticed that [now-defunct] SLAMM was the only thing down here, and I thought I could do much better.”
For a year, Rasmussen, a former advertising account manager, based No Cover out of the Carlsbad offices of internet music company spinrecords.com. “I was there the day [in 2000] it closed down. They laid off 300 people. It was a concept more than a business. We got our own office in Mission Hills.”
No Cover continued on as local bands such as Unwritten Law and Mower scooped cover stories. “We did the first official Jägermeister magazine with Slayer on the cover. It was distributed at all 42 dates of the Slayer tour, which was sponsored by Jägermeister.”
Things looked good when the Slayer issue led to major distribution. No Cover got into Tower, 7-Eleven, and Barnes and Noble in 2003. “At one point, we had 100,000 copies distributed throughout the West Coast.... When we started [with the distributor], they would pay you for your magazines in advance.”
Then things fell apart. “They started by paying you up front. Then it changed to ‘We’ll pay after they sell.’”
When Tower Records went bankrupt, he says the huge record chain stiffed No Cover. “I paid an attorney to write a lot of letters only to find out we would get nothing. That was a first blow. We were owed a lot of money.”
Rasmussen says the Tower collapse was followed by news that his distributor was going out of business in 2007 and stiffing him for three issues.
He says the cost to produce each issue was $22,000. “I maxed out my credit. I was draining my bank account to keep it going.”
The last print version of No Cover, with Seether on the cover, was released in August 2007.
However, the industry juice he got from No Cover allowed Rasmussen a chance to launch his own record label, Whiskey Records, and to start placing songs for Fox Sports, Fuel, and Spike TV.
Rasmussen says he is launching an internet-only version of No Cover next month.
“I’m passionate about music, but I’m smart enough to not go back into [print] publishing.”