Nashville street paper The Contributor reinvents itself with the launch of new magazine format

It’s been over ten years since American street paper The Contributor launched in one of the spiritual homes of American music, Nashville, Tennessee. After a decade of being sold on the streets of the city as a traditional newsprint publication, The Contributor has reinvented itself as a brand new, sleekly designed magazine.

The 32-page publication went on sale last week and, as well as boasting an eye-catching, streamlined redesign, the new magazine promises more storytelling, in-depth reporting and features, and even more contributions from vendors.

It’s the vendors which are at the centre of the reasoning behind this overhaul. It’s hoped that the change will help The Contributor’s bottom line, while also putting more money in the pockets of vendors, who buy the magazine for $2 and sell on for $5. Previously, vendors purchased papers for 75 cents and sold them for $2.

Lauren Dougall, the publication’s executive director, said: “We’re more than doubling vendor income per unit sold. It’s a win-win for the organization and for the vendors.

“We also provided the first round of magazines free to vendors to reinvest in their micro-business so the increase is not a burden to them.”

It is also hoped that the new format and increased revenue will provide the opportunity to improve the programs and services the organisation can offer to vendors, such as access to food, clothing, housing referrals, medical assistance, financial literacy classes and substance abuse counselling.

The inaugural edition of the redesign is a bumper issue which includes an interview with Nathan Followill, Nashville resident and drummer for the globally famous rockers Kings of Leon, as well as a conversation with Cleophus Smith, a Memphis Sanitation worker who was a part of the strikes 50 years ago that brought Dr Martin Luther King to Tennessee and, ultimately, his death, and much more.

The Contributor’s creative media coordinator Megan O’Neill said: “We know that we need to change and evolve with the media landscape as well as with our vendors.

“We looked at our product and made it our mission to create something that the public wants — unique, engaging, intelligent stories of Nashville’s community. Not just the booming restaurant scene, but the line cook who’s been there for 20 years. Not just the playoff-bound Nashville Predators, but the long-time locker room attendant or sportscaster who’s been there since the beginning.

“We wanted to lead with a product that is sustainable, so people come back and buy it for both the relationship with the vendor — and the publication.”

The Contributor works with around 300 vendors to bring their unique publication to the people of Nashville.

The entire street paper community wishes the staff and vendors of The Contributor all the best with this next step in their evolution.