Decatur, Georgia-based music magazine Paste has been busy rolling out a number of strategic initiatives over the last 12 months. Beginning in fall 2007, it experimented with a name-your-price subscription effort, launched an ad network in September this year, and now has introduced a premium digital content subscription offer.

The six-year old magazine appears to be stiff-arming a tough market for music magazines. Earlier this year there was a minor spate of independent music magazine shutdowns. “It’s obviously a tough industry, but we’ve had a good year in revenue,” says Tim Regan-Porter, Paste’s president. “But we know that you can’t survive if all you do is print, it’s not even fully serving readers if you just focus on print.”

This latest venture, called Paste Digital VIP, leverages the magazine’s digital platform by making premium content available for a $3.95 per month subscription. Included in the package are albums, DVD samplers, MP3 collections, 11 digital editions of the magazine, and VIP subscriber-only access to the magazine’s entire digital archive, among other perks.

Subscribers to the program are billed quarterly (those that pay for a full year up front get an “exclusive” t-shirt). So far, says Regan-Porter, the program has hit its break-even point just one week out. “We have a minimum we need to make it worthwhile and we got that within a day after the first email went to the subscriber list. It was surprising how many subscribed to the annual subscription. For the past week it’s been above 75 percent.”

Now that the hard costs have been covered, Regan-Porter is taking a wait-and-see approach to any further success. “We don’t know what to expect. The more the better, but it could get too big in terms of giving out all those free albums.”

The 180,000-circ magazine had similar success with its name-your-price subscription effort, ultimately signing up 33,000 subscriptions, 28,000 of which were new business.