Thursday, 30 May 2013


You must try and get some theory into at least ONE of your four answers.

Possibly the easiest is Uses and Gratifications

Blumler and Katz suggested people use the media to satisfy their needs. This
is called The Four Needs theory. It has four main parts –
1. Escape and diversion from everyday life
2. Surveillance and information
3. Personal relationships
4. Personal identity

The Music Press and the Four Needs

1.Music magazines and websites can provide an escape from people’s own everyday life; the audience can get involved with different artists and stories; they can get carried away with drama or excitement and forget about their own lives and worries for a while.

2. Surveillance: music magazines and websites provide various kinds of information about music, artists and the music business itself so the audience can learn things, and find out what is happening ‘out there.’

3. Personal relationships: the audience can chat to each other about music, artists, events and stories, sharing opinions and information and so on. It provides an opportunity for social interaction.

4. Personal identity: some audience members can compare themselves with people in the stories, imagining how they would react in similar circumstances. Some people like to identify with a type of music and describe themselves as ‘Metal' fan or a 'Rap' fan, for example.

Think how significant these points become when you stress the interactivity aspect of your website - especially point three, where, hopefully, your website will allow for interaction between fans, between fans and the magazine and, in some cases, between fans and the artists.

So, "My website exploits Blumler and Katz' theory of Uses and Gratifications because... "

I'm sure you can figure out the rest...

Monday, 27 May 2013

Possible Question One...

And we emphasise the word POSSIBLE...

1/  What are the five key features of a music magazine?
2/  What are the five key features of the cover of a music magazine?
3/  What are the five key features of a music magazine and a music magazine website?
4/   We think the five key features of a music magazine are:

  • Knowledge of target audience - informs everything else - style, genre, language, content, advertising - discuss with reference to three magazines
  • Vibrant front cover - carefully targets primary and secondary audience - look at Top of the Pops, Mojo and Kerrang!, for example - HOW do the covers appeal to the audience; how do they reflect the content of the magazine? Look at the media language, such as the use of colour to appeal to the audience. Use of photographs, cover lines, banners, plugs, freebies...
  • Informative and engaging content - using three magazines as examples, look at the way the content appeals to the target audience e.g. a feature article (NME or Mojo, for instance); gig guides and live reviews (NME); photos of live gigs to bring a sense of immediacy and drama (Rock Sound and Kerrang!, for instance); diversifying the content to appeal to the target audience (Top of the Pops); look at the colloquial language used to encourage the reader to relate to the magazine so he'she'd be more likely to buy it. Use actual examples.
  • Interactivity - letters pages; competitions, website, social networking; look at the way NME encourage letters and have 'stalker' photographs; look at the way Top of the Pops reaches out to its target audience - 
  • The ability to target advertisers - magazines depend on advertising for revenue - look at the way magazine s devise reader profiles aimed at advertisers - there are a number in the slideshares posted below, but here are three below. Right click and you can view them in larger size.

The language of websites...

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Monday, 20 May 2013

Ideas for interactivity between music magazines/artists/audiences

Rhymix – each webpage will link to an online channel/music player so audiences can vote for music videos and/or songs that they wish to be played on the channel.

NME TV features a ‘chart show’ which is entirely voted for by viewers on weekdays, showing how the audience are given power in order to shape media output. and other music websites allow users to sign up for online accounts, ‘rate’ photos and videos using a ‘star’ system and leave comments with their opinions on articles and blogs by NME writers. Users can also join forums and debate certain topics in music, such as bands splitting. advertises the fact that they ‘print the best responses each week.’ Comments on blogs, videos or news stories can then be featured on the magazine ‘letters’ page, potentially allowing audiences to shape what is contained in the magazine. These ‘comments’ therefore give audiences power to shape the eventual output of the magazine and have parts of the magazine tailored to them.

E-media has allowed audience power to increase. Sites such as Youtube and Facebook music allow users to listen to songs or watch music videos, as the website counts the number of ‘plays’ or ‘hits’ received. This can influence the artist’s ideas on which songs and videos generate most interest and therefore which directions best to pursue.

How to fit in new artists and break the domination of established artists – user submitted music – a limited playlist of demos chosen by the editorial team from those submitted by users of the site – they will be streamed and then voted on by registered users to the site – audiences can be seen to be influencing the content of the website/magazine.

Skype interviews with artists – a competition in which readers submit questions and the ten best are chosen by the editors for a skype interview.

Use of Twitter – for example, the editor of Kerrang!, James McMahon, went on Twitter to ask fans about who should go on the cover of their new music special. He’s also invited demos from new bands and applications from aspiring writers. This is a great example of how music magazines keep their audience by engaging them, infiltrating their daily lives and making them feel like they have a say in what happens.

Instagram – uploading instant photos from gigs.

Facebook – Follow on Facebook – more links to music and gigs. How else can you use it?

Reader submitted reviews of gigs – can be uploaded on the night, straight after the gig (or during) - content is constantly updated.

Reader/band submitted gig guide for your local area – found by clicking on a hyperlink on your webpage.

Competition – best journalist – submit interviews with bands (new or established) – can help encourage new writing introduce new talent – writers and artists.

Most music magazines represent a niche genre audience but the internet has made very specific targeting possible.

Competition for best music blog.

Message board for readers to interact with each other.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Online media and the decline of the music magazine in print

ABC stats for the end of 2012: although some music magazines are declining at a slower rate than others, nobody appears to be growing their audience. Publisher Egmont’s We Love Pop has seen its sales drop by 10000 in a year (48,010 still reading), while publisher IPC’s NME is now down to 23,049 – a drop of 16.6% compared to the same period 12 months before. Q lost a fifth of its sales in a year but was only down 4.8% on the last figures in summer 2012, suggesting it may be slowly stabilising around its current figure of 61,485. As the magazine changed its approach in the summer of 2012, this could be seen as a positive sign for the Bauer published monthly. Even Kerrang! is down 8.4% on last year and now below the 40,000 mark.

Twenty years ago, the music magazine industry was healthy. Inky weeklies the NME and Melody Maker hoovered up the youth market as Suede, Blur, Nirvana and Oasis emerged and revitalised the alternative music scene. Q, a relative newcomer launched back in 1986, provided coverage of more established acts like U2, R.E.M. and David Bowie in glossier, monthly instalments for an older audience. Mojo arrived in 1993 offering long articles on the best music of the previous thirty or so years. Uncut emerged in 1997, occupying similar ground. The closest thing to a monthly NME was Select, an irreverent and opinionated magazine first published in 1990, which covered similar indie stars to its weekly rivals and was famous for being the first publication to cover the genre of ‘Britpop’. Kerrang! had grown from humble beginnings in 1981 to cover thrash and metal bands at the end of that decade, before joining other publications in turning the spotlight on grunge.

The teen market was dominated by Smash Hits, a fortnightly pop bible containing lyrics, posters and wilfully silly interviews with all of the day’s biggest stars. In 1995, a spin off from the chart countdown show Top of the Pops was launched, which gradually overtook Smash Hits, offering a similar diet of pull out pictures and gossip. It continues to this day, having outlived the TV show that gave it its name, but with music only one of many things covered, including beauty tips and fashion. Smash Hits didn’t survive the digital uprising and perished in 2006.

The Effect of the Internet

As the Nineties disappeared, Melody Maker (December 2000) and Select (January 2001) breathed their last, while others were obliged to offer free gifts and promotions in order to lure their readership into spending any money. Now that people could not only read about the latest music for free via the internet, but steal the tunes themselves if they were so inclined, there was an increased focus on value for money – most notably, this resulted in many magazines having free CDs as ‘covermounts’, glued to the front. Several magazines gained a foothold during the Noughties –The Word launched in 2003, also covering films and books, while Clash appeared in 2004, broadening its focus to include fashion. The Word closed in July 2012 having failed to make money, while recent reports suggest the NME is now selling fewer than 25000 copies a week, down from around 80000 ten years before. In a world of websites like Popjustice, Pitchfork, The Quietus and Drowned In Sound, is there actually any need for print media in 2012? The declining sales figures would suggest possibly not, with only nostalgia centred publications like Mojo and Uncut, which still offer long, detailed and well-illustrated articles, prospering. On the whole, magazines struggle to offer readers exclusive content in an online age, and the rise of online social media are making many of them obsolete.

Think what a website can offer – flash and streaming technology allows the audience to watch videos and listen to music; music can be downloaded, legally or illegally; sites can offer audio interviews, links to social network sites where reviews are posted straight after a gig or a listening session – or, indeed, during either thanks to smartphone technology – pictures cab be uploaded instantaneously; content can be continually updated – even by the second; AND flash technology offers a better platform for advertisers than the static print media. Music magazine websites, fan and critic blogs, band websites, social networking sites devoted to artists are part of Web 2.0 media. In other words, instead of the static pages that dotted the early web landscape (and the pages of the print magazines, of course), they’re interactive with the user.

For example, the editor of Kerrang!, James McMahon, went on Twitter to ask fans about who should go on the cover of their new music special. He’s also invited demos from new bands and applications from aspiring writers. This is a great example of how music magazines keep their audience by engaging them, infiltrating their daily lives and making them feel like they have a say in what happens.

The root of the problem is that we’re so attuned to the web model now and so used to having instantly updated information that print media seems old and frozen in time, even if it’s the recent past. Content-wise, it’s tough to keep a news scoop long enough before somewhere on the web breaks it first. That leaves think pieces and investigative work as some of the last bastions that print have to offer, but even there, the online world is making headway. That’s not to say that print is necessarily doomed but that it might become a niche, localized market more and more.

A music publication that’s doing just fine is the American music site, Pitchfork - it found a good niche (indie rock) and exploited it, but they were already equipped to handle the online environment—that’s all they’ve done. As such, Pitchfork was better equipped to figure out staffing requirements, budget/costs, etc. for their site because they never had anything else to work with—compare that to print-based mags which constantly struggle to figure out these things. That also meant that it was easier for Pitchfork to expand to suit its own needs while not having to work about balancing any offline version of their work.

The indie band My Bloody Valentine released a new album a couple of weeks back. Fans had been waiting 22 years for it and were beginning to think it would never happen, but around midnight on Saturday, it was uploaded for sale online and within minutes, the internet was quickly full of people raving about it.

In an age where acts like Radiohead and David Bowie can simply spring new music on us without any warning, we are seeing more and more instant music journalism. Writers are listening for mere hours before delivering ‘reviews’ of music they barely know. Print editions are always days, weeks or even months behind what the internet can offer music fans. Traditionally, music reviewers have weeks to get to know a record before finalising their opinion. But, when the music reaches the people at the same time it reaches the journalists, they have to speed up. This doesn’t necessarily lead to good writing.

Much of this was swiped from this excellent blog:

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Kerrang! website analysis...


Strengths and weaknesses of music magazine websites... - NME Magazine
-Pop up adverts
-Audio and Video Content
-Latest and up-to-date daily news coverage and information
-Animations and interactive features
-Shop (purchase merchandise and goods)
-Tabs which link to other pages (e.g. Reviews, Photos, Blogs, New Music...)
-Behind the scene features shown in videos
-Login and Register (Membership)
-Free cost to user
- Accessibly website through mobile phone and iPad
-Downloadable content
-Easier social network access
-Magazine Subscription discounts on website (40% off)

-No printable posters
-No revenue of internet websites (free access)
-Advertise brings revenue, but not enough
-Magazine comes with freebies such as CD's and Posters

-International Editions for users to access from different countries
-Connectivity with Twitter, FaceBook, Myspace, YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr etc...

-Young audience reluctant to possibly visit website (not a 'trend')
-No posters which magazines usually always have as a feature - Mixmag
-No cost to consumer
-Website is more up-to-date compared to magazine which is produced monthly
-Nice, clear website layout
-Latest/daily news
-Phone/Technology Reviews
-Links to websites and festival information
-Embedded videos
-Audio and Video content
-Information is easily more accessible

-No cost to consumer - no finance through this way

-International website (Brazil)
-Easy access to FaceBook page and Twitter to 'Like' and 'Follow' for information of the magazine

-Young audience reluctant to go on site
-No posters - Rolling Stone
-No cost to consumer
-Website features daily news, mainly consisting of Rock news
-Clear website layout
-Interactivity slides reviewing latest news
-Featured artists
-Politics feature, which covers political news
-Registration and Login feature
-'100 Greatest' lists
-Features some Hip-Hop content
-Film and Television feature
-FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr pages
-Embedded videos
-Free use cost

-No printable posters
-No cost to consumer which leads to no finance

-'Give a Gift' feature which allows you to subscribe for a subscription which will send it to a friend or relative as a gift
-Customers Service
-Social networking (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr)

-No printable posters
-No revenue can lead to insufficient funds to operate site
-No downloadable content, where as, magazines usually contain CD's and Posters with music


Features of a music magazine cover...

Kerrang! website analysis

Monday, 13 May 2013

Key features of a music magazine...

Five key features
1/ Cover –
  • Key image – usually medium or medium close up of artist who is this month’s key artist - does the style/pose/attitude of the cover artists differ depending on the magazine and audience?  Of course it does, so talk about a couple of specific examples.
  • Coverlines relating to a variety of artists that reflect your target audience - give examples.
  • Use of other images to attract attention to the stories inside – again, to reflect the interests of your target audience. See the first bullet point!
  • Free gift – CD or note of free downloads
  • Use of colour – either vibrant to attract an audience or to reflect housestyle so your magazine has a recognisable identity
  • Fairly simple range of fonts in most cases – some (Kerrang!) more complex
  • Look at the mode of address - language and images that treat the readers as knowledgeable/colloquial/informal language – allows the audience to relate to the contents, so they’ll be more likely to buy the product. Obviously, this depends on the magazine. The mode of address of Top of the Pops magazine is different to Mojo, which, in turn, is different to NME.
2/ Website – biggest competitor to music magazines – source of information/gossip/videos/streaming music/illegal and legal downloads/ reviews – so music magazines have their own. Look at a couple. What features do they have? How do they encourage audience participation. Though Smash Hits ceased publishing in 2006, its website still thrives with Smash Hits Radio. Videos, news, competitions, the Smash Hits music player…

3/ Links to social network sites – extremely popular fans can post reviews the night of s gig; spread the word about music or bands – magazines capitalise on this by having their own Twitter and Facebook links. Pick a magazine or two and look what the websites offer. The psychology behind interactivity is that it gives the readers a sense of ownership so they build up a realtionship with the magazine and they will be more likely to buy the product.

4/ Features/articles/reviews etc – see cover – but Top of the Pops, knowing its audience, has diversified into more of a lifestyle/celebrity gossip magazine for teenage girls – explain how! Heavily illustrated and informative; carefully targeted to its audience.  Kerrang! and Rock Sound use a lot of photos from live gigs and push music as a live experience. NME - weekly magazine - audience enjoys its live music - has lists of gigs at smaller local venues around the country and invites readers to submit notice of them for publication. Pick a couple of magazine and look at the way the contents is targeted towards their particular audience. There's plenty of information in the recent posts on this blog. It's there to help you, so use it.

5/ Interactivity – how do the magazines encourage interactivity OTHER than internet links? Competitions? Crosswords? Prizes? Letters pages? NME invites readers to submit notice of gigs and have a ‘stalker’ feature on the letters page where people are invited to submit photos of themselves with artists. Top of the Pops magazine – beauty advice, ‘Oops’ – readers invited to submit embarrassing stories; readers submit questions for stars; letters page, for example…

A Successful Music Magazine...

We think that these are the important qualities of a successful music magazine:

  • Vibrant front cover
  • Interesting and informative articles
  • Understanding of the expectations/needs of the target audience
Using examples from magazines drawn from your research, show how each of these qualities has been used to appeal to audiences.

If yiou expect to get into the top mark band, you ought to apply some theory, so there are two examples below.

It might be best to consider just what the primary audience is before answering this. I've taken two examples and gone into a fair bit of detail about both...

Top of the Pops – primary audience = 11-15 year-olds; 87% female. An oddity in a publishing genre where male audiences are predominant. Published by Immediate Media under licence from the BBC. Quite expensive - £2.99 – considering its target audience, but it is monthly. Best-selling magazine for this audience, but circulation figures have gone down in recent years.

Cover – often bright stereotypical feminine colours like pink, purple, yellow; printed on glossy paper – has a bright shiny feel. Features the kind of pop stars that appeal to this age group and gender – such as Justin Bieber and Rhianna? Usually one main image (medium shot or medium close up) but the cover is packed with other, smaller images as if it’s bursting with stories bout your favourite stars that you have to read.

Male artists feature as objects of teen desire with use of colloquial youth-oriented terms like ‘fit’ or ‘phwoar’ or ‘celeb’ so the audience can relate to the contents. Female artists are objects of inspiration.

Mode of address - tone of language is collloquial, friendly and down to earth, trying to engage the readers on their level with some features taking on a confessional style as if the stars are revealing their deepest secrets to their fans. The stereotypical feminine colours, use of empahasis

Many of the adverts reflect this target audience – female hygiene and beauty products – though it often promotes new films and new phones, which appeals to a generation where phones are important.

Top of the Pops was a household name but it has long been defunct on TV, and the content is not just pop-related – pop star interviews and confessionals, mixed with joky celebrity features like ‘Oops. Shameful celebrity Muck-Ups.’ It’s as much a lifestyle magazine for young teenage girls, in the manner of Closer but toned down for the target audience.  Contains advice columns on boyfriends and ‘real life’ experiences that readers can relate to, features on fashion and make-up like Stars’ Style Tips – and articles that direct the reader to other BBC products – like interviews with the cast of Tracy Beaker or Jessie J from The Voice. Competitions and features like pages asking readers to submit their embarrassing stories give the magazine an interactive feel allowing the readers to assume a sense of ownership of the magazine making it more likely they’ll continue to buy it.

Extra incentive – free gifts, like beauty products, and competitions – prizes include meeting various boy bands.

The fact it hasn’t restricted itself to music and has branched out into celebrity gossip and lifestyle features explains why it has been successful while other magazines aimed at a similar target audience, like Smash Hits, failed. Only real competition is the more recent We Love Pop, which follows the TOTP model, but TOTP is more established and continues to outsell it. 

Supported by a vibrant website with links to videos and competitions and features on popular stars, allowing people to interact with the magazine while promoting it. 

While the use of attractive male artists on the cover has an obvious appeal to the female reader, the use of attractive female stars works highlights Naomi Wolf’s ideas that picture of attractive females are used to sell products to females because they have been conditioned – even at that early age – to want to look and be like women who are held up as models of beauty in a patriarchal society.

Mojo – audience is 73% male/27% female. Average age is 43. Targets people interested in classic rock – often iconic artists from the 60s to the present day, but tends to emphasise major artists of the 60s-90s. Doesn’t restrict itself to one genre – helps widen its appeal.  

Its mode of address is respectful – treats readers and artists with respect; is aware its readers are serious about their interest in music and assumes they are already knowledgeable; provides in-depth knowledge about artists and their output. The editor’s statement says, “The magazine is loved by its readers and artists alike because it engages them on the subject they love the most: music itself.”

This is reflected in their covers. Note use of logline – The Music Magazine – implying it’s the one to get if you’re interested in music – using a script font as if it's handwritten and a personal guarantee.


The Beach Boys Pet Sounds cover - Cover shows resect for the readers by assumeing their familiarity with the Beach Boys’ classic album Pet Sounds – adopts colour (green, yellow, white and black) scheme and font (Cooper Black) from the album art and uses an outtake from the album photo sessions for main image.  

Carefully targeted towards their primary audience (male; mean age 43, according to its publisher, Bauer Media) but there references to younger artists to appeal to a secondary audience.

Like many magazines, has free CD – helps promote music. Often other artists’ interpretation of classic tracks from a particular band – thereby promoting the classic artist as well as a range of others.

Mojo – Beach Boys cover but story lines refer to older and newer artists who talk about the band (e.g. Flaming Lips), and new bands that musically allude to bands that Mojo readers will know e.g. Beach House. This issue has stories about bands across the decades – Beach Boys (60s and 70s), Rush (70s), Public Image (80s), David Bowie (70s-now); features on classic albums, classic artists and newer artists whose style alludes to the classic artists that appeal to Mojo readers.

Variety of features inside – news, in depth articles and reviews of new albums, re-releases, live shows and music-related books – all pertaining the kinds of artists Mojo knows its audience will appreciate.

Has had guest editors - David Bowie to Tom Waits via Noel Gallagher and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, showcasing the magazine’s breadth and iconic status among musicians.

Links to websites - Two full page ads for website – promising exclusive streams and review; stories and music related to this month’s featured artists – updated constantly; a link to the website, where you can sign up for a weekly newsletters which will feature ‘all the essential links’. Page also features Facebook and twitter links.

Adverts for tours and concerts – older and newer bands relevant to the target audience – Springsteen, Tom Petty, Squeeze and Laura Marling. Hi-fi equipment; albums from older artists like Bob Marley and newer artists whose music appeals to Mojo’s demographic, like Beach House. Full page ad for Q – promoting another Bauer product.

Blumler, Katz and McQuail’s theory of Uses and Gratifications can be applied to magazines (and their websites) because they provide a variety of gratifications for the active audience. People read magazines for a number of reasons – to seek out information for a variety of reasons; for reasons of personal identity, such as identifying with a valued other (like the subjects of inspirational stories) or gaining insight into oneself; for social interaction -discussing the contents with friends; for reasons of entertainment.

Starting your response

You need to write in role when responding to the exam task. Clearly, your opening sentences will depend on the question, but here's a possible way of getting in to the question:

Dear Sir (or whatever - a name is usually given)

From my research into music magazines, I have come to understand that the genre is clearly under threat from the vast array of information and music, legal or otherwise, that can be found easily on the .Internet, but I have looked at how magazines appeal to their target audiences.

And so on, depending on the question...

Top of the Pops magazine powerpoint