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Music Magazine History Info

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Anna Stokes

Anna Stokes

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  • 1. Teaching the Music Press Cath Davies Contents Introduction: Content and teaching approaches ........................................................1 Timeline: Important developments within the music press ........................................4 Section 1: Case studies for textual analysis (codes and conventions) ..........................7 1.1 Case study: Kerrang!......................................................................................................................7 1.2 Case study: Top of the Pops ............................................................................................................9 1.3 Case study: NME........................................................................................................................11 1.4 Case study: The Word..................................................................................................................16 Section 2: Key concepts and issues ............................................................................19 2.1 Genre and representation in the music press ..............................................................................19 2.2 Case study: Gender representation and the music press ..............................................................20 2.3 Studying institutions: The relationship between the music press and other media industries ......26 2.4 Studying audience: Teen readers to the older market ..................................................................31 2.5 Readers as journalists: The fanzine ..............................................................................................38 Section 3: Student activities and teaching resources ..................................................41 3.1 Textual analysis of codes and conventions ..................................................................................41 3.2 Genre and representation ............................................................................................................53 3.3 Institution and audience ............................................................................................................56 Appendix....................................................................................................................74 Bibliography ..............................................................................................................76
  • 2. Introduction Content and synoptic approach which assesses the overall context, climate and debates. Section 2 teaching approaches teaching would then draw upon the familiar case studies in Section 1 that the students have analysed previously, and allow the group to Teaching the Music Press offers a detailed profile reflect on key debates arising from their of the music publication market in Britain and previous knowledge. I believe it is always highlights pertinent issues that arise within this productive to begin a scheme of work with area. It has been written with Media Studies areas that are familiar to students so they can teachers of both GCSE and A level in mind, develop a sense of confidence from analysing and designed to present an overview of context codes and conventions in a range of magazines and key debates to assist in classroom delivery. that they are accustomed to seeing at the The book can be used to teach a discrete unit newsagent. The more ‘ambiguous’ ‘academic’ on the music press (suitable for the AQA ‘media studies stuff ’ can then be introduced controlled test at GCSE, for example) or can be encouraging wider skills of critical reflection offered as a detailed case study that addresses a and independent research. Students then range of concepts relating to popular music and progress from a good body of knowledge the music industry (at A level, for example). achieved in Section 1 to an understanding of issues in Section 2. This study is by no means an exhaustive account of all aspects of an area covered by the Each case study in Section 1 addresses the term ‘the music press’. It is a selective account magazine’s historical background, style and that includes case studies that have been chosen mode of address, content and approach to because they illustrate the concepts that media music and its identity as a promotional tool students are required to investigate within all selling commodities to readers. These sections examination specifications. The content is allow students to consider the relationship designed as a guide to generate analysis and between the magazine’s identity (constructed discussion within the classroom, and to via its individual components) and the target stimulate students to apply their own music audience profile. An analysis of language, style publication knowledge and experiences. Whilst and layout or editorial content and profiled the emphasis has been on popular music, for music artists, or adverts and competitions will example, students may wish to use these case always reveal the potential reader of the studies and compare and contrast with other publication. Comparing and contrasting each music genre magazines. case study allows for a richer understanding of target audience and visual/technical codes, in Teaching the Music Press is divided into two addition to the relationship between these main sections that have been devised as a factors and music genre. possible scheme of work (if teaching within a discrete unit). Section 1 contains individual Once students have grasped these codes and case studies on Kerrang!, Top of the Pops, the conventions, Section 2 provides a context in NME and The Word. Section 2 presents an which to place these case studies. While Section account of main issues relating to the music 1 is text-based, Section 2 assesses the text press, with an emphasis on the contemporary within wider debates relating to institutions climate whilst taking into account historical (notably the music industry), audiences and perspectives. It is suggested that students representation. deconstruct a range of publications, and address codes and conventions within the Areas profiled include the symbiotic music press, before embarking on a more relationship between the music press and other NOTES: Teaching the Music Press | INTRODUCTION 1
  • 3. Introduction media industries, the implications arising from result of a niche that has been identified – a the demise of Smash Hits, the effect of the music genre that is not being covered in the internet on the music press and its main areas publishing market. Genre-specific magazines of growth in recent years. A case study on genre are, therefore, a promotional tool used by the and representation, with specific analysis of music industry to publicise products and hit a gender debates, is also included. direct niche market. Subsequently, the niche market defined by specific music taste is an It is possible to trace the following key areas attractive prospect for advertisers. A genre- throughout Teaching the Music Press: specific publication allows students to analyse genre iconography as they would with a film Studying historical perspectives poster or TV programme, taking into account a This publication encourages the integration of magazine’s mise-en-scène of images, layout and historical perspectives into the teaching of writing style. Lifestyle representations contemporary examples, rather than as a constructed through the promotion of events, discrete component. This is a preferable reviews of other media, such as film and method of delivery because it allows students to television, and attention to new technologies all assess the past in relation to the present. relate to the music genre presented. Students Therefore, there is a strong sense of earlier can then develop their understanding of genre incarnations of the magazine in the NME case iconography in different examples; for example, study (more than other case studies due to its into a consideration of gender and race debates remarkably long shelflife!), particularly that are imbedded within music genres such as addressing the issues arising from the 70s and rock, pop and hip-hop. 80s identities of the music ‘newspaper’ Studying institution compared to its present magazine format. This case study generates integral debates relating to The key concept at the heart of a study on the the music press as a whole and can therefore be music press and media institutions is its role as studied within Section 1’s textual analysis or a marketing vehicle to sell audiences to kept as a case study for Section 2. Similarly, a advertisers and vice versa. How ‘independent’ case study on the punk fanzine Sniffin’ Glue in music publications are from this function is an Section 2 is integrated within a general study of area of continued debate, particularly in an era amateur publications and fan writing that is of cross-media ownership from large companies going from strength to strength on the internet. like Emap publishing. A case study on the Naturally, a focus on the demise of Smash Hits NME in the 70s and 80s, offers a view of the becomes a platform in which to assess the music press as completely autonomous from contemporary climate and potential futures of the music industry compared to the the press. It is impossible to keep history in the sponsorship deals that dominate its current past in a study of the music press; Section 2 editions. Students should be encouraged to also investigates the current trend for nostalgia deconstruct how music and other products at work in a range of current publications. (other media relationships) are promoted within the editorial and advertising pages of Studying genre and different publications (with obvious attention representation to reader profiles). A consideration of how As the music industry is preoccupied with magazine editorial features and journalist’s categorising music products within established opinions can indirectly contribute to the music genres such as rock, pop, metal and punk it industry’s economy is particularly interesting, makes sense that the music press replicates especially by profiling the many lists of ‘cool’ these areas. Genre is an important factor in albums, artists and tracks (from then and now) magazine identities, often constructed as a that are being included in most magazines. NOTES: 2 INTRODUCTION | Teaching the Music Press
  • 4. Introduction Overall, a key issue that will emerge from this The activities and stimulus materials can be study is the tension between a publication’s used to suit most teaching approaches – they symbiotic relationship with music and other can all be used in the linear order provided to media industries, and that of independence and accompany the example of a scheme of work autonomy. (provided in the Appendix) – but they have also been chosen to suit those who perhaps Studying audience prefer to ‘dip into’ when necessary. Most Approaches to audiences are evident activities address more than one concept on the throughout the study primarily in the attention whole. A mock controlled test activity suitable to target reader profiles and constructions of for the AQA GCSE specification has been audience demographics that students can use to included. I have provided an overview of assist in the analysis of codes and conventions, possible uses of the stimulus materials included and explore lifestyle representations. How in the guide, as some can be repeated to cover audiences use the music press and consume an array of concepts. information is evident in the sections on the internet and fan writing whilst it’s possible to Overall, Teaching the Music Press should assist assess audience interaction via letters and teachers in the investigation of the following feedback pages of each publication. These are areas: useful indicators of the relationship that readers 1 Textual analysis of a range of music have with a certain publication. Genre-specific publications. magazines such as Kerrang!, Metal Hammer and 2 Magazine identities and target audience Mixmag, for example, illustrate the relationship profiles. between music genre and audience that is fed into fashion and lifestyle advertising in each 3 Music genre and audience constructions. publication, and a subcultural identity is 4 Representation and genre considerations. formed. It is useful for students to explore the relationship between music, fashion, other 5 The relationship of the music press to the media preferences and social events that the music industry. music press often nurture in their editorial and 6 Why music publications are attractive to advertising. advertisers. How the music press offers a ‘gang’ or ‘club’ 7 The relationship between the press and mentality is identified within the case studies in other media formats. Section 1, whilst there is an emphasis 8 Whether the music press can offer critical throughout on how music enthusiasts use the writing independent of its role as a music press to develop their knowledge of promotional vehicle. particular music ‘scenes’. 9 Audience interaction and pleasures of the Student activities and music press. stimulus materials 10 How different audiences access music information. The student activities included are a guide that can be easily adapted to suit a particular group 11 The impact of the internet on the music ability. Some activities have been written with press. stimulus materials in mind (these have been 12 Fan writing. included), although the specific examples can be substituted with your own examples. 14 Current trends in monthly publications. NOTES: Teaching the Music Press | INTRODUCTION 3
  • 5. Timeline © Advertising Archives Important Lennon and McCartney famously argued over The Beatles split by contributing bitchy letters developments within to the Melody Maker. the music press The emphasis was always on factual and detailed accounts of music, and its newspaper 1936: Billboard magazine and the format reflected this – the reputation of ‘serious music journalism’ was thrown at the ‘inkies’ arrival of the charts who were simply not interested in prioritising This weekly American magazine is an important image and glossy pics over music coverage. As contributor to the development of the music both evolved, the inkies (along with another press because it was one of the first publications addition Sounds) were important because they devoted to the music industry. Its first issue was provided detailed coverage of independent label printed in 1894 but it was in 1936 that it artists and those not producing mainstream, published the ‘music hit parade’ that gradually chart-based music. In the late 70s and 80s for evolved into the magazine’s preoccupation from example, the inkies were the only source of the 40s onwards, with radio airplay and record information for the ‘indie scene’. Declining sales charts. The Billboard charts (encompassing sales of the Melody Maker resulted in a glossy numerous music genres) have provided the magazine format in 1999 and an eventual foundation for chart countdown slots on radio merger with its arch-rival the NME in 2000 programmes like the ‘American Top 40’. The (both owned by IPC media). Today, the NME magazine is aimed at music professionals as a has diluted its newspaper identity in favour of a reference source primarily, although it is magazine costume change. available to the public. It has continued to move 1966: The rock fanzine paving the with the times and contains charts and way for fan-based independent information on DVDs and internet music download charts (beginning in 2005). publications 1926: Melody Maker and the rise The music fanzine is considered to have of the ‘inkies’ emerged in the 1960s having evolved directly This weekly newspaper began in 1926 and was from earlier sci-fi and comic-related amateur renowned in its early incarnations for its publications. Crawdaddy, devised by Paul lengthy coverage of all aspects of the jazz scene. Williams (first issue 1966) and two creative By the mid 50s it was in direct competition endeavours from Greg Shaw (Mojo Navigator from the arrival of the New Musical Express and Who Put the Bomp!, later known as simply which seemed to have more of a youth- Bomp [1970-9]) are American examples that are orientated appeal in its coverage of an emerging recalled in rock folklore today – notably rock n roll scene. Both papers have an integral kickstarting the journalistic careers of writers role to play in the development of the music like Greil Marcus and Lester Bangs. Crawdaddy press famous for their tabloid newspaper format is still in production – available curently online and monochrome ‘newspaper print’. They with Williams at its helm. offered weekly information on all upcoming record releases with articles on artists and their The arrival of the amateur publication in the music. During the 60s and 70s, they 60s highlights the relationship between music, dominated the newsstands in Britain as they fan-based creativity and the desire to document were the only up-to-the-minute access to the a ‘scene’ that is often too new for the music scene during a climate when music was established music press to latch onto. Fanzines an essential contributor to youth identity. are often the first ‘validation’ of a music sub- NOTES: 4 TIMELINE | Teaching the Music Press
  • 6. Timeline © Advertising Archives genre and are, therefore, valuable historical artists independent of their musical wares. accounts. Backstage gossip and ‘personality’ interviews dominated and it was the first publication Punk fanzine Sniffin’ Glue, started by Mark available for a specifically teen market. Perry in 1976, is credited as the first British amateur publication to document the A genre-specific teen magazine like Kerrang!, movement. Fanzines are very much alive on the which arrived in 1981, has evolved from the internet, a range of easily-accessed online template created by Smash Hits, though far publications is a reminder that music generates more music orientated with a less flippant a passion that many wish to write about and mode of address. Its monthly metal counterpart the amateur ‘zines’ will continue to have an is Metal Hammer. The nineties witnessed genre- integral identity within the history of music specific magazines like Mixmag, with its journalism. dance/clubbing music coverage; hip-hop and rap music were represented in the American 1967: Rolling Stone – music as monthly The Source and British publication culturally significant Hip-Hop; while the older nostalgic consumer is Rolling Stone magazine was conceived in 1967 catered for with Classic Rock. in San Francisco, an independent venture by 1980: The Face and the glossy editor and publisher Jann Wenner who remains lifestyle magazine the top-dog in 2006. In keeping with a youth ‘hippy’ lifestyle movement of the time, The Face, launched in 1980 by once NME Wenner’s publication documented music as an writer and Smash Hits editor Nick Logan, essential component of youth culture with offered a new breed of music publication that reflective articles about music and social prioritised a full-colour glossy stylish format in change, and music’s potential to articulate stark contrast to the inkies. The aesthetically political concerns. Rolling Stone was less about pleasing colourful layout of Smash Hits was factual information on new releases to be developed into a monthly weightier magazine bought in order to make the music industry aimed at a post-youth market, embracing music content, and more concerned with reading and accompanying fashion and lifestyle about music culture. Its content has evolved relationships. Its layout was image-heavy: over time and embraced other entertainment detailed articles were slotted between numerous coverage, most recently with articles on full pages of musicians and celebrities, fashion specifically political issues, independent of shoots and advertising. Style-over-substance was music. Journalists like Cameron Crowe, Greil the order of the day (and the 80s generally) and Marcus and Hunter S Thompson, along with the success of The Face resulted in the opening photographer Annie Leibowitz, have made their of the floodgates for the 20 and 30-something name on the Rolling Stone payroll. demographic who wanted entertainment and lifestyle ‘advice’ in a monthly format. It ceased 1978: Smash Hits and genre- publishing in 2004 but not before paving the specific music magazines way for Q magazine (introduced in 1986), The teen glossy fortnightly magazine Smash followed by Select, Vox (both now deceased), Hits was conceived in 1978 and is an important Mojo and Uncut – all of whom have placed the contributor to the development of the music music press firmly within a glossy magazine press because it offered a new mode of address identity. to accompany music coverage, designed as a 1980: Record Collector catering genre-specific magazine with its pop emphasis. for the music enthusiast It paved the way for our contemporary celebrity magazine obsessions, profiling music This British publication first hit the newsstands NOTES: Teaching the Music Press | TIMELINE 5