• Billboard Magazine was one of the first publications devoted to the music industry.• The first issue was printed in 1894 but it was in 1936 that it published the ‘music hit parade’ (the charts). • The Billboard charts have provided the foundation for chart countdown slots on radio programmes like ‘The American Top 40’ • The magazine is mainly aimed at music professionals. • It still exists and now contains charts and information on DVDs and internet music download charts.
• During the early 1920s, music press documented factual information on the music industry and record sales information.• Melody Maker began in 1926 and at the beginning was famous for its coverage of all aspects of the jazz scene.• The Accordian Times and Musical Express began publishing in 1946• In 1952, it was rebranded as the New Musical Express (or, as it came to be known, the NME.)• Within months, the NME had invented the first UK singles chart, which evolved into the UK Top 40 still used today.
• With the arrival of the NME, the Melody Maker was forced to cover more rock’n’roll music to keep up with the success of the new magazine.
• In the mid 50s, music newspapers assumed a more youth-orientated format. They still had the tabloid newspaper format and monochrome ‘newspaper print’ but they now featured weekly information on record releases and articles on artists and their music. During the 60s and 70s NME, Melody Maker and Sounds were the only updated weekly source of information on the music scene, so they were very popular.• They were known as ‘inkies’ because they had a broadsheet newspaper format and monochrome ‘newspaper print’ and the ink would rub off on the readers’ hands!
• By the arrival of The Beatles in the Sixties, NME was targeting a teenage audience, with Melody Maker aiming at adult music fans.• Throughout the Seventies, both papers were in fierce competition for readers, attracting large readerships.• By the mid-70s, NME was selling around 300,000 copies a week.• It took a more edgy and risky stance on the music of the times, giving favourable coverage to punk, for example, and the politics and culture that surrounded the movement, at a time when its rival, Sounds, largely catered for a heavy metal loving readership.
• The music fanzine emerged in the 1960s – an amateur publication.• Early examples were Crawdaddy in the USA devised by Paul Williams and Mojo Navigator in the 1970s. Their creators later became successful music press journalists.• These fanzines highlighted the relationship between the music and the fans and a ‘scene’ that was often too new for the established music press to comment on. They are valuable historical accounts.
• Fanzines are often the first to document a new movement.• Sniffin’ Glue was the first British publication to document the punk movement in the 1970s and is coverage had a direct influence on NME’s coverage of the contemporary music scene.
• Rolling Stone magazine began in 1967 in San Francisco.• It documented music as an essential part of youth culture.• It included articles on music and social change, and music’s power to articulate political concerns.• Rolling Stone was less about facts and more about music culture.
In recent years, Rolling Stone has been criticised for beingcelebrity obsessed and losing that values that it originally had –however, this seems to have been a deliberate move to target ayoung readership.
• In 1978 a pop magazine launched, called Smash Hits, which was light-hearted and printed the lyrics to big chart hits.• It was the first genre-specific magazine. With its pop emphasis, it was the first publication specifically targeting teenagers, with its backstage gossip and ‘personality’ interviews.• An important contributor to the development of the music press, it was a glossy fortnightly magazine, the first specifically for teens.
• It had a pop emphasis, and paved the way for our contemporary celebrity magazine obsessions.• It included backstage gossip and ‘personality’ interviews.• Kerrang! originally evolved from the template created by Smash Hits but with the emphasis on heavy rock.• Music magazines became less popular and were in competition from numerous fan and official internet sites.• By 2006, Smash Hits was struggling to sell enough copies and it closed.
• In the mid-Eighties, the CD was becoming the main format for buying music and lots of old music was being reissued. In 1986, Q magazine was developed to cover not just new music, but records from the last twenty to thirty years.• Unlike other music magazines, it was monthly rather than weekly and printed on glossier paper with more colour. It was an instant success.• The NME became an increasingly sarcastic and critical magazine towards the end of the decade.• In the Nineties, guitar music became hugely popular again and the Britpop era of Blur, Oasis and Pulp provided NME and Melody Maker with improved sales.
• In the 80s and 90s magazines with a similar template as Smash Hits, but more music orientated emerged. Genre-specific magazines such a Kerrang!, with a rock focus; Mixmag, covering dance and club music; The Source, exploring hip-hop and rap; and Classic Rock, focusing on older rock bands.
• 1980: Record Collector catering for the music enthusiast• British monthly magazine providing information for the music fan who was a collector.• Its pages were crammed with adverts and sources of buying and selling music.• Relaunched as an A4 magazine in 2003 and there is now a magzine version on ebay that creates a link between fans and music sellers.• It has great reader interaction as it discusses fans’ collections and fanzines etc.
• In 1980, The Face began a new type of music publication which was a full-colour and glossy.• It was a monthly magazine, aimed at a post youth market, embracing music as well as fashion and lifestyle and it was largely London-centric.• The layout was full of images and had many adverts. There was more style than substance.• It went out of print in 1994.
• In 1993, Mojo was first published, covering bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan for largely male older music fans. Uncut, with a similar target audience, followed.• As the Nineties came to an end, the internet was slowly growing in popularity and by the year 2000, it was becoming easy to download music illegally and for free.
• Melody Maker was closed in 2000, leaving only the NME to cover mainstream and alternative music. By this time NME had been revamped in an attempt to compete with the monthly music magazines with higher production values.• As the new millennium dawned, the internet allowed people to discover, share and read about music for free and music magazines lost readers sharply. By 2006, a pop music magazine was struggling to sell enough copies and Smash Hits closed.• All music magazines find themselves struggling to survive, with very few having been launched in recent years.
• In 2003, The Word magazine appeared, In attempt to be different and increase its audience base, it covered music, films and books and in 2004 music and fashion magazine Clash was launched.• In 2009, the NME got its first female editor – Krissi Murison.• As of 2012, the NME is selling approximately only 30,000 copies a week and in July of that year, The Word shut down having become financially unviable, though it still retains its website.
• Music magazines now maintain websites. Not only is this a way of appealing to an audience keen on new technology and in keeping with other printed media such as newspapers, it allows the reader to interact with the magazines and access news as it happens instead of every month or every week . Use of flash technology, moving images, sound and interactive features allow them to complement print versions, but they are also clearly a threat to the their survival.
• Magazines like Q, Mojo and Mixmag work hard to establish a brand name beyond printed media in the hope that their audience will buy into the whole brand and continue to see the print versions as essential purchases.
• Although the printed music press is facing an uncertain future, this isn’t the whole story, there are still countless music magazines aimed at niche audiences, highlighting specific musical genres.