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Most titles down but Rock Sound up in latest music mag ABCs

By | Published on Friday 14 February 2014

Rock Sound

Needless to say, the further decline of the NME print magazine was the stand out stat from the latest batch of gloomy official circulation figures for the music mags. The music weekly saw its ABC figure drop below 20,000 for the first time at 18,184, a 9.1% decline since the last set of circulation stats and a 21.1% drop year-on-year.

And this despite the big revamp last October. Though, as we noted at the time, “the more music industry types welcome and acclaim the overhaul, the more readers the mag is likely to lose”. And the revamp was generally well received within the industry. Of course the print mag is now just one element of the wider NME brand, with its high-traffic website, events and other spin-offs, and overall it’s easy to believe the NME business is plenty profitable for owner IPC.

And the title’s Publishing Director, Jo Smalley, noting that print ad revenues were up 50% year-on-year in the latter half of last year, said: “2013 has been a hugely successful year for NME. It continues to be a tough trading climate for most publishers, but the NME brand, its 60-plus years of heritage, its overall reach across multiple platforms and the way we help brands connect a young and valuable audience with live music experiences and events keeps NME in revenue growth”.

As a media brand, NME is certainly not going to disappear anytime soon, though you do sense that a disproportionate amount of editorial effort still goes into the print product despite the fact that – in terms of audience at least – it’s a small part of the overall equation. It will be interesting to see what happens the next time NME has one of its customary big overhauls.

Elsewhere, there were further declines in the print music mag ABCs. NME sister title Uncut was down 9.8% year-on-year to 56,223 copies a month; over at Bauer, Q was down 14.2% year-on-year to 52,781, Mojo was down 11.3% to 74,203 and Kerrang! dropped 8.9% to 35,127; and Team Rock titles Metal Hammer and Classic Rock slipped 12.5% and 4.6% respectively year-on-year, to 26,273 and 54,109 copies per edition. But hey people – remember, if you assume readership is 2-3 times circulation, those are still pretty sizable readerships compared to the average units shifted by a successful album release.

And it’s not all doom and gloom. Oh no, independently owned Rock Sound magazine saw its circulation rise 6.6% to 13,220 over 2013, which wins Publisher Patrick Napier this quote: “This increase is down to a really strong editorial team who have consistently shown that they have their finger on the pulse with a string of exclusives on the exciting new bands coming through in rock at the moment. We’ve recently launched a digital edition which is growing fast and we’re optimistic we’ll be able to build further in 2014”.