Media: Double Standards - 'Readers are out there and want to be courted'

Online hasn't strangled the music titles NME and Kerrang!. On the contrary, their publishers say, magazines continue to offer a richer experience.

PAUL CHEAL - PUBLISHING DIRECTOR, IPC INSPIRE

- What changes have you made to your editorial product in recent months?

NME magazine has recently hit the newsstands with a top-to-toe redesign and new editorial content under the direction of its new editor, Krissi Murison. It's now a more opinionated, entertaining and aspirational magazine dripping with rock 'n' roll authority. There's a lot more relevant and timely content in The Main Event - a new front section of the week's most pressing music news; new sections such as First Night, On The Road and In The Studio showcase the brand's brilliant access to bands; and This Week In ... is a celebration of NME's incredible history looking back at the brilliant and often bizarre stories from its archive.

Elsewhere in the portfolio, the content remit for NME.com's 4.5 million unique users evolves on an almost daily basis. We are testing our audience's appetite for relevant movies content and we'll soon be introducing more explicit links between our print and online content.

- How closely is the magazine linked to the other properties that carry its name?

Intrinsically. Our editorial team work across both NME magazine and NME.com and we continue to work towards the holy grail of journalists capturing text, audio and video content in every interview to then utilise across our different platforms. And the magazine's playlist and editorial attitude also spreads out to our TV and radio platforms.

- How have advertisers taken advantage of this portfolio?

Adidas, O2, HP and Dell are just some of the brands to recently take advantage of our integrated multi-platform proposition. Perhaps the best example is Shockwaves' sponsorship of the NME Awards, a live event-based deal in which a four-month campaign plays out across all of NME's platforms as well as our YouTube and social networking pages, culminating in a broadcast on Channel 4 where viewing figures were up more than 100 per cent year on year.

- How much of a future is there for print-based weekly music titles?

A naysayer question. Of course the overriding challenge is to offer our advertisers multiple routes to this hard to reach demographic, but we should be celebrating the global uniqueness of our weekly music press rather than forecasting its demise. And the economics of specialist publishing are such that you don't need to be selling 100,000 copies a week to be making a healthy profit.

- To what degree is your title suited to iPhone/iPad formats and what have you launched in this area?

Very suited. We've already brought two NME i-Phone Apps to market and later this year we expect to make available something slightly more news-based. Having got an iPad in the office for the first time this week, we are very excited about the different ways we might be able to carve up our content for users of this platform.

- What music are you listening to/watching right now?

Strange Boys, Be Brave; Steve Mason, Boys Outside; anything by Andrew Stone's Starman.

STUART WILLIAMS - PUBLISHING DIRECTOR, BAUER MEDIA

- What changes have you made to your editorial product in recent months?

We have a fantastic new editor at the helm of Kerrang!, Nichola Browne. Since she took over last summer she's given the magazine a fresh and vibrant new look, sharpened the writing and put the readers and their opinions firmly at the heart of the magazine. 2009 didn't see the emergence of any bands who achieved the commercial success that the likes of My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy did the previous year but that's actually made the scene more diverse and exciting at the grass-roots level, particularly around live gigs.

- How closely is the magazine linked to the other properties that carry its name?

We have an overall brand plan that sets out the standards for the Kerrang! brand, with the magazine (and its 29-year heritage) at its heart, setting the core values. Each platform is then given flexibility to work within its medium. The magazine is by its nature more niche and the radio and TV cater to a broader audience. Conversely, radio and TV can play a wider range of bands within their mix than the magazine can cover.

- How have advertisers taken advantage of this portfolio?

A growing number of consumer advertisers are choosing Kerrang! as their way to communicate with 16- to 24-year-olds. It's a cliche, I know, but Kerrang! readers genuinely are hard-to-reach; they trust Kerrang! in a way they don't trust any other brands. Our partnership with Relentless Energy Drink and the Kerrang! Awards is now in its third year and Paco Rabanne promoted its Black XS range with a cross-media campaign, giving the Kerrang! readers the chance to enter their own band into a competition to win a recording deal with Search & Destroy records. This generated 500 entrants and culminated in the final four bands performing at the O2.

- How much of a future is there for print-based weekly music titles?

A bright one. As long as you're delivering value to a reader, there'll be a market for your magazine. The question is, what value can you deliver in a physical product when so much music information is now given away for free? There's no doubt that magazines provide a deep, rich experience that can't be replicated on a screen. Our recent sales uplift suggests too that the readers are out there and want to be courted and while they are, we will keep romancing them.

- To what degree is your title suited to iPhone/iPad formats and what have you launched in this area?

We've launched a very successful iPhone app with Kerrang!'s sister title, Empire and we're considering a number of ideas for Kerrang!, Q and Mojo. I love playing with my iPad but I don't think many publishers have got their propositions right just yet - the rush to get products on to it mean that many haven't thought through the functionality of their products or their pricing.

- What music are you listening to/watching right now?

Trash Talk, The Swellers, Motion City Soundtrack, Young Guns and brilliant new albums from Bullet For My Valentine, The Gaslight Anthem and Deftones. Er, and a bit of Glee ...

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