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Q magazine to close

By and | Published on Tuesday 21 July 2020

Q Magazine

Q magazine will close after one final issue, it has been confirmed. Publisher Bauer Media had hoped to find a buyer, but seemingly no deal could be done to rescue the music magazine.

It was one of ten titles put up for review by Bauer in May. Last month it was announced that three of those ten would close, including another younger music title, the magazine spin-off of radio station Planet Rock. But Q was among five magazines that the publisher hoped might be bought by another company, with talks about a possible sale seemingly at an “advanced” stage.

Prior to that announcement the team who produce Q were pretty certain closure was incoming and put together the most recent issue as if it was the last. The prospect of surviving under new ownership allowed them to start working on another edition, but yesterday Editor Ted Kessler confirmed closure was now confirmed, making the upcoming issue the grand finale.

Kessler wrote on Twitter: “I have some bad news about Q Magazine. The issue that comes out on July 28 will be our last. The pandemic did for us and there was nothing more to it than that”.

The magazine industry was feeling the pressure long before the COVID-19 pandemic, of course. Print circulations have been in decline for years, meanwhile most publishers have struggled to generate significant revenues with online content.

Even where magazines have been prolific on the digital side and built big online audiences, competition from Facebook and Google make it hard to generate decent ad income. And while some business media and broadsheet newspapers have started to have some success with online subscriptions, that hasn’t really extended to consumer magazines yet, and certainly not music magazines.

Which means many titles were still mainly relying on their declining print editions for most of their revenues. Then COVID-19 struck, making it harder to get print magazines to market, and causing a slump in the advertising industry. That’s been a major challenge across the board, but even more so for titles that counted the live music sector among its advertiser base.

In his final editor’s letter, also posted to Twitter yesterday, Kessler writes: “We’ve been a lean operation for all of my tenure [since 2017], employing a variety of ways to help keep our head above water in an extremely challenging print market. COVID-19 wiped all of those out”.

Launched in 1986 by Smash Hits writers Mark Ellen and David Hepworth, Q’s circulation peaked in 2001 at over 200,000 copies. Seeing a steady decrease in circulation over the last two decades, pretty much in line with the rest of the industry, by the time Bauer put the magazine under review in May circulation was about 28,000 – most of which came from mail-order subscriptions.

It remained popular with musicians and the music industry though, and many felt that its editorial was particularly strong in the last couple of years of its operations under Kessler’s editorship. Many artists and industry people took to social media yesterday to mourn the title’s passing.

Meanwhile Kessler himself finished his final editor’s letter with some optimism, writing: “Hopefully these final issues will provide inspiration to someone canny enough to fill that huge, Q-shaped hole on the newsstand”.

For further discussion on the challenges facing music media at the moment, check out this recent edition of Setlist.