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Printed Music Journalism Takes a Huge Hit

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Budding music journalists take note: the latest ABC figures from for rock magazines are in, and they are not looking good. Circulation of such magazines, which were formally bastions of pop culture, have decreased by over 16% year-on-year, according to figures up to the end of a 6 month period.


Amongst the biggest casualties are some of the most recognisable names in the music press, including the NME, whose sales have dropped by over 13.2%. Even some of the magazine’s that have been doing well in previous years, such as Uncut, which saw a 0.1% rise at the end of last year, have taken a 8.8% hit according to these latest figures.


Tellingly, the magazine that faired the best was Kerrang!, which still saw overall circulation decline by 2.5%. To put it bluntly, to say the industry is in dire straits after viewing these figures is like saying Kanye West has a bit of an ego problem.

Whilst these figures are ultimately incredibly depressing for anyone involved in the industry, the biggest question they raise is “why is this happening?”. The answer may be due to sites like the one you are reading this article on right now (you inconsiderate monster). When there is a seemingly infinite blogisphere, which offers all the content that you can get from magazines for free, there really doesn’t seem to be a reason to shell out your hard earned cash on a few sheets of paper. In short, online media is making magazines look outdated, and the print industry has yet to figure out an effective strategy to combat this.


This is a sentiment is given a positive spin by Keenan, who claim that the “print is dying” argument doesn’t capture how well that these magazines are doing online, how much revenue they are drawing in from events, and many other platforms to which magazines now lend their name. Yes, print may be dying, but the music journalism industry has spread its wings, and now covers a broad spectrum of outlets, which raises brand awareness, and ultimately, draws in revenue.


This isn’t just wishful thinking; it’s backed up by figures from the Professional Publishers Association. The latest Combined Circulation Chart, which takes into account both print and digital circulation figures, does not show an industry in decline, but one which is evolving with new technology. Barry Mcllheney, CEO of the PPA, has said “Digital editions are proving to be extremely popular and, given the iPad was only introduced to the UK market a mere three years ago, we are still in the very early days of a revolutionary period that is redefining how we think about magazines.


So, whilst on the surface, these figures may appear grim, but when you dig deeper, you find that the magazine industry is in a similar position to the recorded music industry. Whilst there may be some problems in adjusting to an age where there is an abundance of free content available, both industries are finding increasingly innovative ways to stay afloat in these confusing times. So maybe it isn’t all doom and gloom after all.


Sean Lewis

Budding music journalists take note: the latest ABC figures from for rock magazines are in, and they are not looking good. Circulation of such magazines...

Sean Lewis - 26th August 2013

Article Ref: #PrintedMediaFalls