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Music Week to become a monthly publication?

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  • Music Week to become a monthly publication?

    UK trade paper Music Week ends 60-year run as a weekly publication; parent Future says it will continue as a monthly ‘for the time being’

    t’s a sad day for music industry media, and some of MBW’s staffers, as we learn that historic UK trade paper, Music Week, is to cease being a weekly title – with uncertainty surrounding its future.

    The magazine’s parent company, Future PLC, has announced via a surprisingly frank job ad that the title has “been impacted by a number of external market factors and significant economic pressures which mean that Music Week must move into a new phase of its development”.

    Adds Future: “The economics of Music Week as a weekly magazine are no longer viable, so we must look for other ways to serve our readership and build new sustainable revenue streams, both in the UK and internationally.”

    The title will soon move to a monthly release frequency, says Future, although how long the brand will remain as a physical publication after this point appears up in the air.

    “For the time being Future remains committed to Music Week in print, but monthly,” reads the job ad.

    The ad further reveals that Music Week will now “inevitably move over time to a digital-first proposition”, including the launch of a paywalled website scheduled to arrive in Q3 next year.

    It adds: “Music Week’s competition is hotting up… it’s [sic] long-established brand leadership is facing increased pressure from its competitors, including some who have significant strengths in digital media.”

    An important profit center for Music Week is its annual UK awards, the Music Week Awards, which traditionally take place in Q2 in London each year.

    COVID-19 saw off that possibility in 2020, and sadly may do the same in the first half of 2021, too.

    London-based Music Week began life as Record Retailer, originally founded as a monthly in 1959.

    A year later, it went weekly, and has remained so ever since, having been renamed as Music Week in 1972.

    Future Publishing acquired Music Week as part of a portfolio of titles from New Bay Media in 2018 in a $13.8m deal.

    In 2018, Time Inc announced it was ending the production of another weekly UK music title, NME.Music Business Worldwide


  • #2
    It's worth noting that the job advert referenced above has since been deleted, see:


    • #3
      The deleted job advert in full:

      From the above:

      About the team
      Music Week has been the leading trade media brand for the UK music industry for over 60 years, and is essential reading for anyone who needs to understand the business of music, from vinyl to streaming, from the Dublin Castle all the way to Wembley Stadium.

      As well as covering industry news as and when it happens, our editorial team creates exclusive content that delves deeper into key industry issues. We have unrivalled access to the most powerful music business executives, both in the UK and abroad, and our unique relationships with a variety of trade bodies and chart providers, including the UK's Official Charts Company, means we are able to analyse the data and trends that lie behind the modern music industry.

      Music Week is undergoing a transformation. Long known as a weekly music magazine, published primarily for the UK market, it has been impacted by a number of external market factors and significant economic pressures which mean that Music Week must move into a new phase of its development.

      The ever-changing expectations of its readers mean that the brand will inevitably move over time to a digital-first proposition, serving both its audience and commercial clients with informative, compelling and impactful content across a variety of media platforms, including live events (when they are permitted to return). Music Week’s competition is hotting up too - it’s long-established brand leadership is facing increased pressure from its competitors, including some who have significant strengths in digital media.

      The economics of Music Week as a weekly magazine are no longer viable, so we must look for other ways to serve our readership and build new sustainable revenue streams, both in the UK and internationally.

      For the time being Future remains committed to Music Week in print, but monthly. The planned move of the website in Q3 FY21, with a paywalled facility, will open up new opportunities for the brand to serve its audience and clients.


      • #4
        Sad news but hopefully it manages to carve out a future in a reduced format as it would be a huge shame to lose it altogether.

        Does this impact how we access sales figures? Presumably not, as we’ll still have the website and a weekly online article?


        • #5
          End-of-era stuff, though I suppose inevitable the way things are going, especially with printed media. Its circulation is a fraction of what it once was, and its lofty pricetag has never helped it gain a broader customer base from more casual readers.

          Surely they'll need to rebrand the revamped printed publication as 'Music Month' once it stops appearing every week?!


          • #6
            If it does go monthly, this is sad. However, Billboard is basically bi-weekly and that has been the way for a long time. Look objectively at the current climate: In 1960 (for example) the chart was announced when it was printed and that was the way the chart was shared. Today the chart flashes around the world at 5:45 on a Friday and when Music Week prints on the Monday or the Tuesday the chart is "old news" in one way. People want things instantly. And when the full chart is available for free online why should you (the public) pay Music Week for the chart? The big reason of course is the "added extras". Are they worth 6 a week? All publications have this issue when they produce the charts so if Music Week can re-invent itself it will need to be slightly cheaper (although maybe 6 a month is reasonable?) and have a unique placing. Basic Business.
   - for the latest are best chart book - By Decade!
            Now including NME, Record Mirror and Melody Maker from the UK and some Billboard charts


            • #7
              They could just switch back to Record Retailer!
              I suppose it was just a question of time that it would struggle. Sales to the general public would never have been strong and it was pricey allways. With most of the record shops closing down it needed some kind of support from the industry itself. Clearly it didn't get it.
              But what would the new monthly paper be made up of? I can't see them doing an entire month of charts! What would be the point of that? The remaining record shops wouldn't need them. And the music news would be mostly out of date or available from other sources.
              I would be very surprised if continued long as a monthly paper.
              Education for anyone aged 12 to 16 has made a mess of the world!


              • #8
                I agree Graham. If it does switch to monthly then I'd give it a year maximum before the print edition ceases completely.

                Years ago Music Week was THE way that the industry found out about things. It's another era now but as late as the 90s, when Music Week was literally hot off the press, the magazine would be taken by courier to be delivered by hand to all the major players (companies and individuals) in the industry. The USP of Music Week was that it was weekly, it set the agenda for the industry and of course the charts (especially the pull out Singles and Albums charts) were essential for record shops. The amount of record shops are now a fraction of what they once were. The industry has consolidated to such a degree that there is less need for multiple copies of the magazine to be delivered to what was once multiple companies. And the nature of the industry has changed that Music Week couldn't possibly cover every facet of the industry in great detail. It's a jack of all trades and master of none publication.

                In a way it's a shame as the magazine over the past few years has been the most readable its been for many years. At the point when the magazine was sold to Intent Media about a decade ago (then owners UBM were going to close it had it not been sold) it was a poor magazine with few pages (32 pages per week on average) and next to no advertising. The magazine was tired and irrelevant to many in the industry. At least fighting for its survival meant the magazine did become more readable and the page count improved. The magazine still struggles to attract advertisers though and probably doesn't pay its way.

                If the magazine does cease its print edition with no suitable replacement (would a digital only edition work? It would still involve production costs whether it was weekly or monthly) could the title survive in an online only world? Current owners Future Publishing do own a number of online only business to business titles but those titles are usually very specialist titles which cover a specific part of an industry in detail - music production or recording technology and audio equipment for example - whereas Music Week is attempting to cover almost every aspect of the music industry and presumably is failing to attract enough subscribers. The Future Publishing corporate information page for Music Week no longer mentions its print edition and the audience figures aren't massive when compared to other titles

                Of course it could all be a mistake and the job advert for a Digital Editor was never meant to appear though I doubt the publisher would be so incompetent as to run an advert in error. However I am curious why the adert was withdrawn as quickly as it appeared. Perhaps someone forgot to tell the Music Week staff in advance of the advert appearing?


                • #9
                  I must say, it was a very expensive way of seeing the full charts each week, but in the pre-internet and free exchange of info era, MW was the sole source - at least after RM was absorbed into it. And actually for the short while I subscribed in the '90s, it was interesting to read some of the other features in the mag as it gave me a real flavour of the interior machinations of the music industry, and although some of it was very specialised and of little interest to a young chart buff, certain reports were engaging and I can't think where else at that time (or even now) I would obtain such information. It was very-much a publication for the industry, by the industry and as Robbie says, the go-to initial source for the latest developments within it that set the agenda for that week in the business. The high cost per issue didn't matter as most of its readers were industry institutions or individuals who had more than sufficient funds to subscribe annually and it was just part of what you would do as a music industry operator, in a pre-multimedia age.

                  As with so many things, it's basically been whittled down almost to the point of irrelevance by its digital counterparts, and the out-and-out embracing of virtual media over physical print. Sadly even an increment in features or journalistic reporting standards is not enough to rescue it as a format in the longer-term and I agree, it will likely not last long as a monthly.