Monday, 13 May 2013

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.

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