Media: Double Standards - 'I survived an afternoon out with Keith Richards'

The editors of Q and NME talk Nordic Satanists, sneak previews by Kings of Leon and why their ad sales teams occasionally deserve a damn good thrashing.

PAUL REES - editor, Q

- If you owned a magazine, what would you do with it?

I would put The Afghan Whigs on the cover of the launch issue, having single-handedly persuaded them to reform for the very occasion. Also included would be comprehensive think-pieces on the life and work of Joe Henry and The Jayhawks. The magazine would be called Loser. It may struggle to reach a second issue. But it would crash in a blaze of righteous glory.

- What other magazines do you read?

A vast range on a daily basis - from Glamour to Kerrang!, and all titles in between. But for pleasure alone, I opt for Vanity Fair and The Observer Sport Monthly. I remain in mourning over the demise of the excellent West Bromwich Albion FC fanzine Grorty Dick.

- What do you think of music magazines in general?

They're exactly the same as other magazines in general: there are the good, the bad and the unbearably smug. I have no time for music magazines that suggest nothing of consequence has happened in music or music publishing since 1976. If you believe that, do something else.

- How are you planning to increase your readership over the next year?

With a range of cunning - and, for now, top-secret - plans that will be unveiled in due course. Q is, and always has been, about filtering through the good stuff from all eras and styles of music and then telling our readers where they can find it. That will continue to be the case.

- Do you have much contact with your ad sales team? What was the last run-in you had with them?

We are in daily contact. At times, they are a lovely and uniformly cuddly group of people who can do no wrong. At others, a vicious beast in need of a damn good thrashing. They would undoubtedly suggest the same is true of me - albeit without the "lovely" and "cuddly" bits. The last run-in involved an advertorial popping up in the middle of a carefully crafted feature. How we laughed.

- How important are ABCs to you?

Achieving sustainable growth is important to me - ergo the ABCs are significant. You can never out-perform the market for long, but we have been lucky: Q has been the market leader in the UK ever since its launch 19 years ago. Certain people who should know better claimed they were going to bring this to an end. I'd suggest they have been proved wrong and will continue to be.

- What's the best event you've ever been to through work?

Christmas dinner at Ozzy Osbourne's house. Lunch with Bono at a beachside bistro in the south of France. Sharing an afternoon with Charlie Watts and Keith Richards. Being branded "the world's foremost transsexual" by Jonathan Ross at the Q Awards 2004. All good. None that I would strictly qualify as "work".

- What's the best story you have covered?

Each successive issue is the best thing I have to cover. Mind you, being on Kerrang! when the Norwegian black metal fraternity decided that burning churches and murdering each other was the way to go was notable. Odd people, Nordic Satanists.

- Lester Bangs or Nick Kent? Why?

Both great, both very much of their era. I'm biased, but I believe Q's Michael Odell is as fearless a writer as both, and a better interviewer than either. He's his era's star.

CONOR MCNICHOLAS - editor, NME

- If you owned a magazine, what would you do with it?

I'd sell it to a big publisher as quickly as possible.

- What other magazines do you read?

I read as broadly as possible to see what other people are doing. I'm passionate about cars, so I regularly read BBC Top Gear, Car and Autocar and, equally, I love newspaper magazine supplements because they live in such a different world from magazines. I check out The Observer Music Monthly and all the magazines in The Guardian, The Times and the News of the World.

- What do you think of music magazines in general?

They're on the up. I genuinely believe the best-quality work is coming out of IPC. In music, our readers are changing - for lots of reasons, not just downloading - and it's such a liquid market. All the movement keeps it challenging and demanding.

- How are you planning to increase your readership over the next year?

A whole host of ways. My number-one priority is just producing a better magazine and we've got lots of good ideas for this. We're investing in marketing and in getting more out of our media partnerships. We're also working on increasing our subscriptions, which sounds boring but it's important. And we're investing in a digital version of the magazine and NME Mobile.

- Do you have much contact with your ad sales team? What was the last run-in you had with them?

Loads - it's constant. It's a bit like a sibling relationship - we fight but we love each other and can't exist without each other. Recently, there was a major piece of work with a tight deadline and we couldn't get confirmation on delivery. I must say the ad team's patience was better than mine.

- How important are ABCs to you?

Tremendously valuable. It's what I judge myself on - it's all about shifting copies. But I hope the ABC wakes up to include digital magazines in the figures. I don't want there to be a Rajar situation where everyone's pissing and moaning about getting accurate numbers.

- What's the best event you've ever been to through work?

Hanging out at the Sunset Marquis hotel in Los Angeles with the Kings of Leon, listening to demos of their new album 24 hours before they started recording it. Their PR guys would have had a fit if they'd known what they were letting me listen to.

- What's the best story you have covered?

The piece that was most important and what I'm most proud of is our coverage of John Peel's death last year. It was a privilege and Radio 1, his family and the fans were proud of it. It wasn't pleasant but it was a pleasure to do the best job and to do the best by John.

- Lester Bangs or Nick Kent? Why?

Nick Kent, because he's one of us.

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Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).