Last night, hundreds of New York City hipsters, wanna be rockstars, grey haired music editors and a few nerdy tech reporters gathered for a party and a sneak peak at SPIN Magazine‘s yet to be released iPad app, “SPIN Play.”

Their new app will officially and appropriately launch mid-March at SXSW (so no photos allowed until then) but I had the chance to play with it and talk to SPIN Associate Publisher Mike Albanese about the magazine’s transition from print to present day.

First, the iPad app is anything but the magazine in digital form. Open up the free app and you are presented with two options. 1) Choose from all available SPIN.com content for free. Peruse blog posts in column form, swiping left to right. 2) Choose from a row of current and past issues, each priced at $1.99. SPIN’s creative director hopes to have SPIN’s entire back catalog on the app in the future.

Open up a SPIN issue and you’re presented with a gorgeous, interactive musical play land. Each issue comes with 60+ songs, which can be played within the app, played over AirPlay or purchased through iTunes. The songs also coincide with articles within the issue so if you want to learn more about the artist you’re listening to, simply click open the article in the app as if it were a trendy coffee table book. Each article comes with a handy sharing tool to keep YouTubes viral.

IMG 0720 520x347 TNW gets a sneak peak at SPIN Magazines yet to be released iPad app

The SPIN Play app only works when the iPad is held in horizontal form. “It’s not a magazine you’re holding, it’s an interactive experience, like a game,” says Albanese, who’s been spearheading several savvy initiatives to keep SPIN up to date.

One of those initiatives is a very cool partnership with Shuffler.FM, an Amsterdam based startup founded by Tim Heineke, Diederik Martens and Marcel Corso. The Shuffler.FM feature on SPIN.com lets users literally shuffle through all available music within its available web content.

So has SPIN, a veritable icon of the print days of music journalism, successfully made the leap from print to digital, thus joining the ranks of Stereogum and Pitchfork? “We’re definitely in a good place,” says Albanese. “While we were once just competing with the likes of other print pubs like Rolling Stone, we found ourselves suddenly thrown into an ocean of music blogs, who were built from the ground up to be web only. We’ve been experimenting successfully, and we’ve also got the legacy of a brand and fan base that the blogs have to compete with.”

After playing with the app and drinking plenty of free rum, attendees were treated to a guest performance by MNDR. All in all a solid night at SPIN Magazine, a voice I look forward to following as it soars into the digital era.

IMG 0906 520x347 TNW gets a sneak peak at SPIN Magazines yet to be released iPad app

PHOTO CREDITS: SPIN MEDIA/Ben Rowland