Life of a Publisher
My heart dropped when I heard “Hi Courtney, it’s Richard”. With this being my first professional interview, I tried my hardest to not get star struck. On a tuesday afternoon, I had the opportunity to speak with Richard Klein, publisher of 429 Magazine, over the phone. Speaking with Klein, I was able to learn from the source, how the life of a publisher can be both challenging and rewarding.
Coming from an Architecture and Design background from Carnegie Mellon University, Klein started his fashion journey with his move to California. Klein moved to San Francisco where he worked as an Art Director with Macy’s West, on Macy’s Magazine. Inspired by the bay area Klein curated his own publication, Surface Magazine. Surface evolved into a global style icon in the late 90s. Klein launched several brand programs and collaboration such as: Hotel on Rivington in NYC. Surface became a leading magazine for designers and opinionated readers in over 200 countries. In 2008, Surface China was created.
Understanding the journalist background, we discussed how creating creative readable content makes a successful magazine. I learned that as a Publisher, one must be able to keep the business alive. Producing creative content and utilizing brand extensions are key to a thriving business. Incorporating social media platforms and social trends aid in the growth of artists. Klein stated how his he used his first publication as a stepping stone; using it to not only brand his himself, but reach a demographic that he could relate to.
Klein started with his first publication, Dot429 Magazine, a multiplatform magazine that connects the LGBT Professional Network. The company started out as a four person job working out of his San Francisco living room. As of now, Dot429 has grown to over 85,000 members with 30 employees. Dot429 use all proceeds to help build their brand. “Launching a magazine, is like launching your own brand”, said Richard Klein.
In 2014, Dot429 launched FourTwoNine Magazine, a lifestyle publication. A publication that’s main focus is primarily on celebrities, politics, business, art, culture and fashion. The magazine’s Editor in Chief, is a former contributor from Vanity Fair and Executive Editor for Interview Magazine, Kevin Sessums. FourTwoNine offers a subscription to five issues per year. The goal of FourTwoNine Magazine is to go beyond their current LGBT audience, to reach a more broader audience.
With the rise of online publications, I seeked Klein’s opinion on the future of print media. “Magazines were huge back in the day, it was the way one received the news, there was no internet”, stated Klein. Klein started in the 90s just when computers were just getting popular, thus helping the growth of his magazine. Klein shared his love of “zines” and how he wanted to create a zine that looked like a magazine. how popular they were. However now it is all about blogs and bloggers, the easy access to online content. “Print is getting much smaller”, said Klein. Without advertising print publications would not survive. FourTwoNine Magazine has found a way to brand themselves on many aspects. It is there brand extensions such as online content, print publication, and event company, that keep their business thriving as well as build press.
The size of one’s publication normally determines one’s work load. FourTwoNine Magazine involves all aspects of the business. Being that Klein holds that position of Publisher and CEO, he must ensure that there is constant revenue coming in from as many sources as possible. “It’s our responsibility to keep the business alive”, states Klein. It always help for one to be creative about the content being produced.