Saturday, January 3, 2009

Dead Point Magazine Interview


Recently I was contacted by Dead Point Magazine with reguard to a project that they have in mind, if you don't know what DPM is I suggest you click the banner and go and have a look at their latest issue.. for those in the know, DPM is a digital format climbing magazine that's FREE, yup you read correctly FREE!

This may well strike some people as a weird and rather wacky way of having a magazine, but digital media is here and it's here to stay. But don't think that DPM are leaving the traditional ways of doing things alone... oh no the magazine is in print as well!! I decided to have a chat with Matt Stark one of the guys over at their base of operations to see what's up with them and what people should expect from their magazine... read on people, read on:

CHR: Name.... and job:

MATT: My name is Matt Stark. My business card lists my title as, "climber". I hate job titles. I think they sound pretentious. I work at Dead Point Magazine, so I guess work for climbers as well. We are trying to give the younger core community what they want in their climbing media so we have to listen to the pulse of the climbing community and do whatever it is they want us to do.

CHR: Explain to us the who, what, where, when and whys Deadpoint magazine came to life:

MATT: The business plan was hatched several years ago when UCmag came on the scene. It was supposed to be a new hip and edgy, "like skateboard," magazine. It grew stale really fast for a lot of us. I remember I wrote an article for them and they took out the word, "fuck" and replaced it with "darn" or something mundane. I knew right then the "edgy and youthful" bit was a load of canned crap. Even Newsweek and Time print the word "fuck." That is when my hope that another publication would come forward and offer the younger climber what they really wanted. I didn't know then that I would later write the business plan that would become DPM. When I think of today's youth, and what they want, I don't think of endless pages of text. I think of rap videos, video games, I.M, and energy drinks. I think of Volcom's "youth against establishment" motto. Young climbers don't say, "Hey guys, lets go out and climb on the side of that building." They roll out in a posse and say, "Yo, see that boulder? Let's go send that shit!" That intensity and youthful exuberance is what we want in every issue of DPM.

CHR: As climbing gets more and more mainstream, I suppose the phrase "Sex Sells" will come into view more and more. What's your opinion of this factor coming into the sport, more so than it is already.... you're current issue actually address' this factor, what's DPM's standpoint on this?

MATT: That article has certainly been talked about a lot and I am glad. I think the topic needed to be addressed. Our industry, at least in America, has always been a little prudish when it comes to marketing. A few companies have stepped outside the box and have used eye-catching imagery to get people’s attention like Red Chili and Etch. Most people who have seen those ads remember them. I don’t think sex alone can sell hard goods though. Obviously reputation plays a huge roll in that. Clothing on the other hand can benefit from a sexy image. The point is, a sexy image grabs people’s attention. It can’t replace functionality and construction, but it can add to its appeal. Petzl actually ran an ad of a completely naked girl laying on a rock with tan lines from one of their harnesses. It never ran in the states except in the annual which had a very limited distribution here. It actually prompted me to look at their website because I wanted to see the harness and more pictures of course. haha

CHR: What's the goal of the magazine

MATT: The primary objective is to give back to the climbing community. Hopefully, we can rise to that occasion even more so in this dreadful economy. Our media platform is already free for climbers, and because of our low overhead working from home, our advertisement rates are the lowest in the industry allowing the smaller companies in our industry to get their name recognized.

CHR: I assume that Deadpoint is a magazine's staff mainly consists of climbers, how many are you and are you allowed to slack off to climb?

MATT: 100% climbers. We are proud of that! The full time staff is actually a small list. Aside from myself, it consists of Megan Phillips, Bentley Brackett.. We have many others that help us out on a part time basis. As for having time to get outside to climb, I have to admit, my climbing has been infringed upon because of the amount of time working on the magazine. I am trying to stay in shape playing my wife's Wii Fit.

CHR: The current issue you are working on is number 3, how much work does it take to get the mag done, and why digital media rather than a traditional print format?

MATT: Actually, we have both a printed magazine with a circulation of 20k and our digital edition. Both formats are free. The reason we chose to have both is because we had a hard time getting video images to stay on a printed page. That shit kept moving! It also allows us to reach a wider audience. We have readership in 84 countries right now. That is dope! It is cool to see what countries are logged in to DPM. I usually work late at night and often see IP addresses from South Africa, Japan, France, Pakistan, and other countries. That trips me up because I am your typical unilingual American, and I hardly speak that language well! As for how much work is involved.... I thought being a full time route setter was rough until I found myself in front of a computer 15-20 hours a day. My tips are getting soft and my ass has calluses. It is a lot of hard work, but as we grow, much of that work will be delegated to others so I will have more free time.

CHR: You're running a home wall give away (we'd like to win please), how did that come about?

MATT: We had teamed up with Etch in our first issue, and we had discussed some cross promotion ideas. The idea for the home wall giveaway just stuck. I have been friends with Ben Montgomery, from Etch, ever since the two of us set for the Petzl Rock Comp together. Knowing Ben probably helped.

CHR: I've spoken to Ben on and off for a while, we've not seen their holds yet but he seems like a pillar of the climbing hold community. The gym scene is exploding right now even with the economy being in the crapper with gyms popping up everywhere, are you going to cater to both sides of the climbing spectrum, indoors and outdoors?

MATT: Everyone is saying the economy is in the crapper and by most accounts it is, but I have spoken with a lot of retail shops and gyms that are claiming that in spite of a slow Christmas, the year as a whole was a good one. I think the media plays such a huge roll in consumer spending that they alone can swing our economy. If Katie Couric announced the economy was on an upswing and Macy’s was having a sale, the racks would be empty. As for catering to both spectrums of climbing...hellz yeah! Climbing indoors has become a staple for climbers staying fit.

CHR: We're obviously hold orientated, apart from the Wii Fit training you do are there any shapes that you particularly like that are out on the market?

MATT: Well, I retired from professional setting this past year, so I maybe a bit out of the loop as far as new shapes go, but some of my favorites are Project Hold’s Nixons, SoIll’s Limps, and Etch’s Ergos among others for gym setting. There are so many manufactures out there and they all make good shapes for general setting. Feature holds are where it is at though. Every gym should invest in a large assortment of feature holds. It can really add to “fun Factor” of the routes and boulder problems. For comp setting I liked oversized holds from companies that allowed me to tweak them because it created one of a kind obstacles for climbers to get past.

CHR: What's next for the magazine?

MATT: We don't want to give away too much, but there are a lot of exciting things in store of 09'.

CHR: Anyone you'd like to give props to?

MATT: Props, to all the climbers out there who dig deep and are crushing it every time their feet leave the ground. And, thanks to you guys for keeping everyone up to date on all the fresh plastic shapes.

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