Blender magazine folded last week, placing Cleveland-based Alternative Press indisputably in the top three glossy monthly rock mags.

e2e5/1238502094-apcover.jpgThe independently owned AP consistently ranks second in book-store sales, behind Rolling Stone, above Paste, and far beyond Spin. It doesn’t have the size or cachet of Rolling Stone or Spin, but it has the best track record for breaking bands, especially since the millennium turned: It has single handedly owned the Warped Tour generation, and has served as the other three mags’ tip sheet, chronicling bands like Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance. In the late ’80s, AP also caught the alternative wave before there was a word for it. The magazine even got hip to Metallica relatively early — the band graced the last gatefold cover in 1988.

As Rolling Stone and Blender downsized, AP held its own. Blender’s February issue had a mere 76 pages, down from 120 a year earlier. AP’s had 120 — down just eight pages from its February 2008 issue. Founder/president Mike Shea says newsstand sales are down 7 percent, well below the industry average that’s closer to 35 percent. AP’s circulation is holding steady at just under 300,000. While Blender cover photos alternated pop stars like Lil Wayne with “celebrities” like Tila Tequila, AP kept ferreting out emo and punk up-and-comers like A Day To Remember. Shea says they’ll remain on course. (Full disclosure: this writer has contributed to AP here and there.)

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