Who are you and what is your background?
Moin, my name is Malte Brenneisen, I’m a journalist and publisher from Hamburg, Germany. Together with my colleagues Urs and Malte Spindler an Martin Kaumanns at Die Brueder Publishing, a young publishing house with digital roots. We make magazines, books, and websites. From our bases in Hamburg and Berlin, our products examine the urban society in modern cities. We are also the organizers of Indiecon, a festival for independent publishing (www.indiecon-festival.com, 7-8 Sep 2019). Moreover, we publish gentle rain – the international Hamburg magazine.
In what city?
We have offices in Hamburg and Berlin
Can you tell about us, about your magazine?
A few years ago Die Brueder Publishing published a thesis on independent magazines which – in addition to a first overview of the market – focused primarily on the organizational structure of magazines – and editorial sovereignty. The idea: Independent publishers are both bosses and makers. Financial and substantive responsibility for the media belongs together here. This structure allows new developments in the entire value chain: Independent Magazines like gentle rain rely on leaving the beaten track. They experiment with design and content – and they are looking for new ways to tell their stories.
The publication is aimed at readers in Germany and abroad whose first language is not German as well as those who want to discover or re-discover Hamburg. The independent city magazine gentle rain leads to places off the beaten tourist track and to people with out-of-the-ordinary lifestyles and ideas. For the last issue, our editorial team talked to the founders of club Moloch about life together in the big city, questioned two-wheeler repairman Ingolf Köster about his back yard family and gentrification, and philosophized with VR artist Tobias Wüstefeld about shifting boundaries. In addition, Spiegel columnist Anja Rützel proposes five alternative concepts for Hamburg’s new showpiece, the Elbtower. Journalist Tanja Mokosch tracked down the last generation of people with the right to live in the allotment garden association’s turf on the island of Billerhude. This cover story unites DIY home improvers, garden gnomes, and head-set-wearing bosses. The first two issues (summer 2016 and 2017) of “gentle rain” now subtitled “The International Hamburg Magazine” were already purchased and talked about far beyond the city’s boundaries – not only in the German and English-language press (including Süddeutsche Zeitung , Hamburger Abendblatt, Monocle, magCulture) but also by readers in Amsterdam and Copenhagen, London, New York, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, and Martinique.
Print: Why choose print? What kind of paper you use and why? Typography? (Explain)
Nobody chooses “paper only” for a magazine today. Printing, access to topics and target groups – all of this has become simpler and even more affordable thanks to digitization. From the first idea to the ready-to-print magazine, today’s readers will be with you. Be it crowdfunding at the beginning, constant feedback and direct sales, or even physical gathering at the magazine releases. For our publication gentle rain, we chose a German paper called „Fly White 05“ by Schleipen Cordier, an exclusive product of Papier Union GmbH Inapa Deutschland. Typography: Salon Next and Aperçu Pro
How’s the public response?
With about 4500 visitors at our festival Indiecon, we assume, the feedback is quite good. Our editorial team was nominated for the leadership award in 2019 – one of the most prestigious magazine awards in Germany. Moreover, Frankfurt Bookfair invites us to one of the biggest publishing fairs in Europe for four years now. So there is definitely a response to independent publishing here.
Can you give us a tour of your local media scene?
Doing something with magazines in Hamburg means taking responsibility for me. Out of this city come great publicists and publishers whose estate is also in our hands. We decide what the media of tomorrow will look like, who will do it and pay for it. This is where big popular magazines like the „stern” or “Der Spiegel“ come from – as well as “Die Zeit”. But there are also a number of independent titles such as „MC1R“ – the magazine for redheads, „mare” (magazines of the seas), the culture magazine „Kultur und Gespenster“ or the literary magazine „tau”.
Business: Good print mags get a lot of love, but doesn’t always translate to sales or advertising. How are sales? and advertising-wise, is it a normal approach of selling an ad page or more a brand ad approach?
We have come up with our own advertising format for gentle rain – the so-called supporter editorial. For this, we address brands and products that have emerged and are deeply rooted in Hamburg. If we can convince you with our magazine concept we will welcome you into our family. Following is an interview in which we ask the respective company why it finds gentle rain worth supporting. The interview is placed together with the company logo in the middle of the magazine – alongside other brands and institutions. The pages are visually very different from the editorial content.
What is your online strategy?
We are in a lot of publishing groups and forums and keep an eye on our CRM. Direct sales through our shop (gentlerainmag.com) and social media are quite important.
About design, what does your brand represent/reflect?
I am a friend of giving content to the space it needs. I think that’s also expressed in the design language of Die Brueder Publishing and Gentle Rain
What inspires you and motivates you to go to work every day?
My team and our strong editorial attitude as well as the opportunity to question established methods and to be a kind of test tube for independent publishing no matter whether it is with content, form or distribution.
What were your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur?
Convincing those living in an eternal yesterday
What advice would you give someone who wants to start a magazine?
Group up, use the internet and all the knowledge we’ve shared in magazine groups/networks/chats – meet independent publishers at this years Indiecon – Independent Publishing Festival in Hamburg, Germany
Upcoming projects (explain)
August: Gentle Rain issue 4
September: Indiecon – Independent Publishing Festival, 7-8 Sep 2019