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Music - Karen


My sector of the magazine industry is music magazines.  I generated a list of popular British music magazines from abc.org.uk, and reviewed each of their websites in terms of content, user personalisation and elements of interactivity.  Below are my findings:



base.ad (www.base.ad)



This website has two different microsites: Rock and Dance.  Above is a screenshot of the Dance section.  The site is flash-enabled but does not have much content.  There's a user poll, latest news, music reviews, e-newsletter, live band reviews, gig guide and featured gigs.  The Rock site has the same categories of content as the Dance site but is obviously based on rock music.



BBC Music Magazine (www.bbcmusicmagazine.com)



The website of this classical magazine features a free online PDF version, with video and music samples.  The rest of the site contains various CD reviews (with a searchable archive), concert listings, competitions, an e-mail newsletter, subscription details plus summaries of the current issue, the next issue and back issues.  There is also a 'download club' powered by eMusic, where users have a free trial for 35 songs then tracks are just 22p each to download thereafter.  The website has a strong element of multimedia and user interactivity to complement the printed magazine.


Classic Rock (www.classicrockmagazine.com)



This is a basic website to accompany the magazine, with latest news centred around rock music, blogs written by the magazine's writers and editors, search facility, RSS news feeds, links and subscription details. 



Hot Press (www.hotpress.com)




This is an Irish magazine and the website has sections dedicated to music, politics, features, multimedia, 'what's on' and a shop.  The music section contains live gig revews, album reviews, interviews and single reviews.  Features section contains interviews and features on general interest and current affairs; Politics section addresses current issues and contains more interviews and features; Audio visual section has music videos, movie previews, a photo gallery and song previews.  'What's On' lists music events taking place in Ireland, and the Shop stocks CDs, books and magazine subscriptions.  There is also an 'industry' section containing news, features and advice about the music industry.  Users need to register with the website to access some content, however overall it is a well-designed website that is easy to use and packed with content relevant to the magazine. 



Kerrang! (www.kerrang.com)



Well designed Flash-based website.  Sections include latest rock and indie news, features, competitions, video and audio podcasts (users need to register with the website to download these), latest issue summary and back issue archive, ticket shop powered by Aloud.com and an online merchandise shop stocking jewellery, shoes, clothes, accessories and gifts.  There is also magazine subscription information, a message board powered by Infopop, and a link to Kerrang! radio.  There isn't much content from the magazine on this website, so the print version still keeps its value.


Metal Hammer (www.metalhammer.co.uk)



Well-designed, image-filled website with plenty of interactive content.  'Metal Hammer TV' features video interviews and news, but is only available to registered users.  There is also a podcast (also only available to registered users), a searchable blog with archive, (but users cannot contribute to this), competitions, downloadable ringtones, latest rock news (with video content), a message board, a summary of the latest magazine, interviews, latest rock gigs, microsites for individual bands featuring latest news, pictures and bio, a shop area with links to download sites and merchandise shops, search engine, back issues archive and subscription details.




Mixmag (www.mixmag.net)




Colourful, retro-designed website for dance magazine Mixmag.  Features a blog written by website authors, subscrition details (but can also order individual issues), music download centre where users can search for and download dance tracks for a small price (and create their own playlist) however they need to register their details to use the centre.  There are also issue summaries, a ticket shop provided by clubtickets.com, and also an online media pack for advertisers.  There isn't much in the way of user interactivity and there is no actual magazine content.


Mojo (www.mojo4music.com)





Feature-packed website containing news and news archives, ticket shop in conjunction with aloud.com, link to mojo radio to listen online, standard messageboard powered by info pop, a shop selling band t-shirts, badges and other products.  The store is fully searchable by a-z, keyword or artist/film/TV show.  They also have a unique playlist message board thread allowing users to post lists of their favourite artists/tracks/albums for inclusion in the playlist section of the Mojo magazine.  There are also web search facilities and a newsletter sign-up.


NME (www.nme.com)



Website features news, and users can get news from NME sent right to their desktop. There is also a podcast featuring interviews with bands, ticket sales from seetickets.com, newsletter, special festival travel route planner powered by the AA, a student section sponsored by Virgin Money, a shop that looks similar to Mojo’s selling t-shirts, badges and gifts. There is also tour news and individual artist pages containing news, photo galleries, video and audio and gig reviews. Users can set up an account called MyNME, where favourite artists can be saved for easy access. There are also CD reviews, new artists showcase, competitions, generic photo albums and videos, and details of the latest issue featuring excerpts from the magazine, pictures and tasters of news and features.  Also Web or site search facilities. The site has a predominant red, white and black colour scheme keeping in with that of the magazine. 



Q Magazine (www.q4music.com)



Includes summary of current issue, e-newsletter, ‘Q50’ – ’50 essential tracks you need to download’: interactive feature where users can preview 50 tracks recommended by the magazine, and there is also video content and the opportunity to download some of the tracks. There are podcasts of interviews and reviews by celebrities that users can also download. Customers need to register with the site to access the downloads. There is also latest music news with archive, live streaming from Q radio with an archive of shows, a ticket shop powered by aloud.com, photo gallery featuring pictures from the magazine and from the Q Awards, and a T-Shirt shop that is similar in style and functionality as those of Mojo and NME.  There is also a web search facility.


Rock Sound (www.rock-sound.net)



Website features a search engine, ‘Rock Sound TV’ – a section featuring video interviews. There are also music reviews, band profiles with links to their websites, poll, issue information, news headlines with the opportunity for readers to submit their own news, upcoming gigs, Rock Sound club night news, features, competition section, media section with music videos, audio, wallpapers and banners, a shop with links to external merchandisers, recommended links, subscription option, members’ forum powered by phBB, e-mail newsletter, photo gallery of gigs, clubs and users can also submit their own pictures, and there is also a blog section where users can post their own blogs, adding to the strong element of interactivity and personalisation throughout this website.


RWD magazine (www.rwdmag.com)




This is a hip hop, grime, UK garage and house magazine.  Website features latest music news, features, four separate micro sites dedicated to U.K. music and news, U.S. music and news, and alternative and house sections.  The ‘lifestyle’ section has features on fashion and education, the audio section features music streaming and an archive, there are blogs by magazine writers and personalities, a members’ forum powered by vbulletin, a ‘TV’ section featuring interviews and music videos, a large online shop stocking vinyl records, CDs, DVDs, posters, games and consoles, mp3 players, merchandise, gifts, acoustic equipment, magazines, books and tickets.


Terrorizer (www.terrorizer.com



An 'extreme music' magazine.  Website features latest issue news, music news relevant to the genre, e-mail newsletter, members’ forum powered by phBB, competition section, list of gigs, archive of back issue summaries, dedicated advertisement section called ‘Blackmarket’, blogs by the editors and writers of the magazine, and contact details. 


The Fly (www.the-fly.co.uk)



This is a free alternative music magazine.  Website features latest news, gig guide, poll, artist microsites featuring articles related to that artist from the magazine, message boards featuring dedicated threads for each region or city in the U.K., issue information with a virtual interactive version of the magazine that users can browse.  Also a back issue archive, all of which can be browsed fully.  Podcast featuring interviews, music and reviews, a ‘venues’ section detailing all magazine stockists with links to maps, a shop that is similar to those of mojo, NME and Kerrang stocking T-shirts, badges and merchandise, and a competition section.


Uncut  (www.uncut.co.uk)



This is an alternative music and popular film magazine.  Website features latest film and music news with archive, review archive, blogs dedicated to music, film and festivals.  Music section features interviews, artist biographies, features, ticket sales and reviews.  Film section also features reviews, actor/actress biographies, and features.  Magazine section includes editors note and summaries of interviews and features. 


Word  (www.wordmagazine.co.uk)



The site has recently been revamped to incorporate more user interactivity, where members can upload their own videos, post blogs and submit reviews.  Site also features magazine subscription info, tracklisting of the free CD with the latest issue, a podcast with latest news and opinion, ‘Word Radio’, a monthly radio show that users can download and listen to, a staff page with profiles of magazine editors and writers, and a search engine.  Website has been designed to encourage users to still purchase the magazine as very little is given away about issue content but members are encouraged to visit the website with the elements of interactivity and personalisation.





The magazines that I have chosen have varying degrees of new media prominence; from simple websites with little content from their magazines (e.g. Classic Rock) to complete multimedia sites with user personalisation and interactivity (e.g. NME, Word).  Common in all websites are e-mail newsletters; this is to create a user database and to inform members of latest news, and to promote their magazine.  Another common element of the new media magazine is news; whether that be general music news relevant to the genre of the magazine or news that is featured in the magazine (all websites that I reviewed had latest news).  Latest news that is updated on a regular basis gives users a reason to visit the website, to keep up to date on the latest music news that may not be included in the magazine.  Podcasts were also common; this is a great way of feeding users latest news and promotions in an audio format that can be downloaded to an mp3 player and taken anywhere. 


Nearly all websites contained photographs and audio, and some also had video capabilities (Word, Kerrang, NME, RWD, Rock Sound, Q, Mojo, Hot Press, Metal Hammer and BBC music all have video capability).  The video and audio elements are something that cannot be included in a magazine; encouraging readers to visit the websites to access extra content.  Many of the websites also had online shops, for users to purchase gig tickets, CDs and merchandise.  Message boards and blogs were also common - this is a way of members to form an online community to discuss music and the content of that particular magazine.  Mojo and Word have taken the concept of user interacitvity a step further; they enable website users to submit their content, such as blogs and news, and Mojo allows members to submit their favourite tracks for inclusion in a playlist in the magazine.  Many websites also have the option to subscribe to the magazine online: again a way of recording a customer database especially because for many people it is now more convenient to carry out transactions like this online.


Some websites had individual artist pages (Uncut, The Fly, Rock Sound, NME, Metal Hammer) -  this appeals to fans of particular bands, and adds to the element of personalisation.  This may encourage them to visit the website regularly to keep up to date with their favourites.  More high-profile magazines also featured their own radio stations, a good way of attracting customers to the website as it is yet another feature that cannot be included with a magazine.  Mixmag had exclusive music downloads for dance fans, an added incentive for their readers as the tracks may be difficult to find on more mainstream download sites.



Making Money


Magazines that choose to move into new media may seem as if they have no money-making motive, as extra content is usually free to access.  This may compromise on magazine circulations if a lot of the magazine content is in the website - because then customers may not see the point in buying the hard-copy version if they can see it for free online (this is evident in the BBC's Music magazine, with a PDF version that is free to view).   This is where pubishers need to strike a balance - to provide extra content and make users want to revisit the website but at the same time purchase the magazine.


So how can money be made from a website? Advertising no doubt brings in a lot of revenue - every single website reviewed had some sort of advertising (Terrorizer had a whole page dedicated to advertising), so even if magazine circulations discourage companies from advertising in certain magazines they may be attracted by website views.  Also, because users need to register their details to access extra content, a customer databse can be recorded, and promotions can be sent via e-mail and post.  Online shops are another popular way of generating revenue - especially in music because many fans like to purchase merchandise and music of their favourite artists. 


Stuart Williams, deputy managing director of Emap Metro-Music (publishers of Kerrang!) believes that moving into new media is essential as a large share of profits are now being generated from the online and broadcast compnents of the brand.  He said: "The website constitutes close to 10 per cent, but it's growing exponentially - and that's the whole point.  The website is a great place to give extra life to content that we've created elsewhere.  It's where you can listen to radio shows if you've missed them, where you can go and argue about reviews with your friends.  It's really the focal point of the brand."






As magazines move into new media, does this mean the end of the paper magazine?  Companies are increasingly finding new ways to make money from their new media enterprises, whether that be from advertising, shops, downloads, mobiles, and so on.  This seems like a metaphorical death-sentence for the printed version, especially with reports of dipping circulation figures and lack of loyalty amongst today's media-savvy audience.


Lehman-Wilzig and Cohen-Avigdor (2004) believe that this may well happen, but instead of the magazine being completely extinguished, it may 'morph' into different, new-media forms:


Will any of the older media disappear completely? To use a

digital metaphor: yes, but mainly through morphing into something else. We

have hinted already that the ‘newspaper’ will not exist in a few decades – in

its present format. However, if it gravitates onto the web and does not

disintegrate under the centrifugal force of do-it-yourself news and text/

photo weblogging, it might well survive but in quite a different form. Just

as the typewriter became the computer keyboard, so too might older media

‘appliances’ become obsolete but continue to live through their functions.

Lehman-Wilzig and Cohen-Avigdor (2004:20)



They claim that due to the growth of multimedia conglomerates, mediums will 'cross-over' to form 'multimedia, multi-function super-mediums' (p19).  This can already be said for Kerrang! (owned by Emap plc), who already have a TV channel and radio station as well has their magazine, all of which are in some form intergrated into their website.  This has seen them become a prominent brand in music and more than just a magazine.  Some magazines are adapting to the new media climate more quickly than others; however it seems that the magazines that are the most popular/well-known are the ones that are fully integrated into new media.





Quote from Williams, Stuart: Press Gazette (2007)  Magazines Crowd into New Media found at http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=1&storycode


Lehman-Wilzig, S. and Cohen-Avigdor, N. (2004) The Natural Life-Cycle of New Media Evolution, In New Media and Society 2004; 6; 707. SAGE Publications: London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi


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