Backstage.com Garners At Least $4M from Online Subscribers, Launches New Site Highlighting Web Tools

By the end of this month, Backstage will launch a newly designed and more integrated print publication and website. But what’s most interesting is where the two properties diverge.Backstage.com already has 29,000 paid online members. With subscription rates varying between $144/year and $19.95/month, the site is pulling in $4.1 million to $6.9 million a year. On top of that, the print publication has 60,000 subscribers who can choose between print + digital bundle subscription plans varying between $203/year and $29.95/month, earning the publication $12 million to $16.5 million a year.Despite this success, the industry publication for actors looking for work is re-focusing its website to highlight online tools and utilities, such as casting calls. “The things that were visited the most in the past, and have a historic presence and popularity on the site, things that we’ve seen through user surveys that have told us what is most helpful, we’ve tried to bring that to the forefront of the online experience,” John Amato, chairman and CEO of Backstage, told Folio:.Meanwhile, the print publication will continue to highlight news and features stories, but will shrink from 11.5 x 15 inches to a 9 x 10.875-inch book. Backstage says this is in response to actors wanting something they can easily carry to auditions, but I suspect it’s also an easier size to transition to tablet reading, particularly the iPad.This is a great example of how print and digital platforms can play to their separate strengths while creating an integrated brand. (It also echos what I say here about online tools increasing retention rates.) But it’s unclear whether the subscription revenues, while impressive, will be enough to get the publication out of the financial hot water it’s been in.

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