Melody Maker to close? Dadrock mags to reign supreme?

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Just read an interesting article on UK teletext today (p453, CH4) about the declining circulation of music publications after the closure of Select... Looks like Melody Maker in particular, with sales down to around 32,000, is being talked of in the industry as the next for the chop! Omnimously enough, MM's bosses IPC would not comment for the article...

The piece (written by Iain Gittins, a former MM dude himself) tries to work out what has gone "wrong" with the music press... Well, perhaps the article itself goes some way to illustrating how some journos in the titles most affected have lost the plot a little! Throughout the article, the assumption is made that the "Dadrock" contigent (ie Q, Mojo, Uncut) are the main beneficiaries of the circulation wars because they focus on past glories. "No new acts?!? Quick, grandpa, stick John Lennon on tha cover again!!!!"

But a look at the circulation figures (published at the end of the article) tell a different story. Top seller is (appropriately enough) TOTP by a large margin, (300,000+ sales) followed by Smash Hits, (200,000+) and then a fair bit behind that is our first dadrock mag, Q. (around 160,000)

Next it's a couple of the dance stalwarts Mixmag, (~98,000) closely followed by Ministry, (~96,000) with our next old folks mag Mojo again trailing by a significant margin. And where's Uncut? Well, it's selling just above the fateful 50,000+ level that Select were hovering around when they were chopped, with the supposedly ailing NME beating them with weekly sales of around 75,000!

The message I get from all this is that dadrock mags are routinely being spanked in the sales games by the pop glossies, and are struggling to keep up with the popularity of mainstream danceclub monthlies!

So- what do you lot think about the circulation war in the music press? Are the dadrock mob getting a little complacent? Has rumours of MM's death been greatly exaggerated? Does the popularity of pop and dance mags say anything about the current state of UK music?

(Sorry, no link to the article- rather annoyingly, the Teletext UK site appears to have dropped the Planet Sound section in their recent revamp! I'll see if I can a transcript when I get back home this evening...)

Old Fart!!

Old Fart!!!, Thursday, 14 December 2000 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Dammit, I seem to have forgotten to close a bold tag back there!! Hang on a sec...

Ahhh... That's better!!!

Old Fart!!

Old Fart!!!, Thursday, 14 December 2000 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Well the rot really started for the weeklies when Vox and Select appeared at the beginning of the 1990's - essentially Q mags for the younger demographic. Sounds was the first victim. It's sorta ivnevitable that sales of MM would eventually fall this low and it probably wouldn't have made a difference if Mark Sutherland hadn't taken the editorship. Apart from the vast increase in competition and advances in glossy publishing there is also the complicated break up of the once simpler structured cultures. Rock, even on a cultish indie level has no power whatsoever anymore and so this dilution filters down into the music papers. Their 1970s and 1980s sacredness has vanished - every two bit Sunday supplement or Friday review does the necessary job for 99% of record buyers these days. It's sad but hopefully Uncut will survive as it at least retains a genuine enthusiasm and sense of aesthetics. Although they need to rapidly drop the heavy Americana slant, particularly New Country as the kids quite rightly just don't give a flying fuck about these bands. Time for them to embrace the zeitgeist and stick in the odd Zed Bias feature!!

David Gunnip, Thursday, 14 December 2000 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I sort of get the feeling that guitar music has never really got over 1996, and the whole glut of sub-shed 7s that were snapped up by the majors convinced that they had the next o*s*s... the music press bought into the whole thing so much, it had nowhere to go next, and it was so overground that everyone's mum (and every daily newspaper editor) knew who jarvis, liam, damon etc were, so you didn't need the specialised music press to cover it.

That and the fact that NME and MM think it's readership only have two second attention spans so won't run articles that last more than a page and half, and have journalists who seem to lack any sort of bite or character. Christ when swells is the most exciting journo on your paper, you know you must have problems.

Third (and finally, you'll be glad to hear) the complete lack of a real scene of any description is crippling the music press. They were so lucky during the early 90s, from manchester to britpop, that there seemed to be, at least, a loose grouping of bands that seemed to be coming from the same place (geographically or musically) at the same time. This so-called new acoustic movement is soooooooooo grasping at straws, it makes romo seem like punk, it'l be NWONWONW next, at this rate.

carsmilesteve, Thursday, 14 December 2000 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

well that's the end of the maker then...

http://www.nme.com/NME/External/News/News_Story/0,1004, 11245,00.html

carsmilesteve, Thursday, 14 December 2000 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Ah. I will be laughed at but: I shall miss the MM and I am most upset it's being absorbed into the N Bloody M Fucking E of all music toliet paper.

Bloody pop mags, bloody dance mags, I'm locking my self in my room!

Perptuum Mobile Paterson, Thursday, 14 December 2000 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Spare a thought for my dear old Mum. She's in her 70s and used to read Melody Maker when it was a jazz paper in the late 40s. She'll be crestfallen.

What are *my* kids going read every Wednesday?

Michael Jones, Friday, 15 December 2000 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

RIP MM. Also a bit of a shame--but I'm sure I've heard rumours about the future of the ToTP / Smash Hits contingent too. Perhaps the kids are all off spending their cash on real jazz mags.

alex thomson, Friday, 15 December 2000 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Much in agreement with most of what has been said thus far, and I have little to add. The MM was simply rendered irrelevant by the passage of time. Nevertheless, post-Sutherland, it has certainly dug its own grave at alarming speed.

"to sutherland" (verb): to make any publication as boring and lowest- common-denominator as possible :).

The Widespread World of Robin Carmody, Friday, 15 December 2000 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

When I heard MM had been assimilated by NME I thought - ah well, one last christmas edition for old times sake

But then I remembered why I had stopped buying MM and then I heard that Fred Durst (AKA the most tedious rebel in pop) was going to be on the cover...

No doubt wearing his stupid red baseball cap...

No doubt having nothing to say of any interest...

Not sure I can face it

al, Friday, 15 December 2000 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Hilarious post-mortem from the dreadful Caroline Sullivan at http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4105918,00.htm l

I was hoping the opening sentence ("Melody Maker's glory days were already well behind it when I joined as a freelancer in 1985") might have been followed by "But it would be fair to say my appointment worsened matters".

Caroline's radical thesis is that it wasn't the internet that's killed off MM - it was Vogue! She might be right, you know. I for one had a word with my newsagent a couple of years ago and had him amend my order. In many ways, Vogue's refereshing take on music criticism reminds me of Reynolds, Stubbs and Roberts in their late 80s heyday.

N. x

Nick Dastoor, Friday, 15 December 2000 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

That Guardian obituary of the MM has to be one of the most hilariously badly-written and ill-informed pieces of pop coverage even it has ever given us ...

Lutra Lutra, Friday, 15 December 2000 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Oh, this is funny - "The NME, always a step ahead, was running the first British interviews with seminal hip hoppers." *Ahem*

Death by Vogue? What a cretain.

Perptuum Mobile Paterson, Friday, 15 December 2000 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Also totally untrue; the MM was well ahead of the NME in hip-hop coverage throughout its great decade (86-96). Even as late as the mid-90s the MM certainly didn't buy into the Britpop cheerleading anything like as much as the NME did, and therefore its music coverage could be far broader and less nationalistic.

But we shouldn't listen to Caroline Sullivan anyway. She recently contributed to - wait for this - Virgin Trains' promotional free magazine (yes, the bastards at South West Trains have started stocking it as well as their own magazine) lamenting that you can't tell what's at number 1 these days and nobody knows anyway, there's a new number 1 every week, nothing stays at number 1 for as long as Bryan Adams and Wet Wet Wet did (I'm not fucking joking; she was actually nostalgic for *them*), and it's all hype anyway. I think she's gone back to the old people's home now ...

Aquemini, Sunday, 17 December 2000 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

correct

MM - had Frank Owen - who did Hip Hop reviews/articles, plus Simon Reynolds supporting Hip Hop consistently, front covers too for Eric B & Rakim, Public Enemy. Mantronix all featured in 96 end of year poll.

The Maker was culturally on the slide throughout the nineties, it got progressively worse each year, however from 1996 onwards and particularly when Sutherland took over it lost the plot completely. The compass was not even pointing in the right direction.

DJ Martian, Sunday, 17 December 2000 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Ah, but for those of us who only started reading the music press in the 90s, the MM was absolutely as good as it got.

I assume you mean 86 (or maybe 87 / 88) rather than 96 ...

Aquemini, Monday, 18 December 2000 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

86, correct.

DJ Martian, Monday, 18 December 2000 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

You missed out on some good times, to have a band as artistic sublime and brilliant as a.r.kane to be on the front cover (twice) showed a paper at is peak.

by the way, did you see that berk Tony Parsons comment on MM/NME in The Mirror today, the berk thinks the heyday of music journalism was 60s Stones vs Beatles, 70s Clash vs Sex Pistols, 90s Blur Vs Oasis. And he hates the idea of the NME getting into a merger with MM, as "I feel like an old soldier watching his country cuddle up to the germans". A total berk, Parsons has not left the 70s, has simplistic ideas of music history, and today could not recognise creative music if it was waved in his face.

DJ Martian, Monday, 18 December 2000 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

The line about "cuddling up to the Germans" shows that there is less difference between the Mirror and the Sun, despite the former paper's admirable attacks on Hague and Bush, than some would think. Still, yes, Parsons is an indescribably sad, bitter, nostalgic character, but why bother with him, eh?

Lutra Lutra, Tuesday, 19 December 2000 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Wot!!! Surely not!!!!! How could Tony "Pop Is Dead" Parsons ever get it wrong?!?!?! ;)

Old Fart!!!!!

Old Fart!!!, Friday, 22 December 2000 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

eight years pass...

In Her Heyday Remembering the Best Music Paper Ever by Everett True

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 16 April 2009 18:00 (eleven years ago) link

Putting Q in the same category as Uncut and Mojo is a bit misguided to say the least. 90 per cent of the music Q covers is newly recorded. In styles and genres that may have existed in some form before 1980, yes, but still new music.

Geir Hongro, Thursday, 16 April 2009 18:32 (eleven years ago) link

newly recorded maybe but still sounds like old fart music played by boring old farts (no offence thread starter just incase you ever come back to ILX)

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 16 April 2009 18:47 (eleven years ago) link

I like how he includes himself in the list of 'witty, intelligent, provocative' writers. (also, I'm impressed ILM dates back all the way to the Melody Maker era!)

Ismael Klata, Thursday, 16 April 2009 19:13 (eleven years ago) link

Some people need to get away from the idea that guitar based melodic music is only supposed to appeal to "boring old farts". It's timeless. It will always be here, and it will surive everything.

Geir Hongro, Thursday, 16 April 2009 19:16 (eleven years ago) link

and you do know ET posted on ilx back then? It was quite good conversing on a message board with someone who had actually gotten me into some good music nearly 10 years previously via MM

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 16 April 2009 19:16 (eleven years ago) link

I always kind of assumed this place was hack-and-muso-infested, but I've never been any good at working out who's who behind the arcane logins (lj apart). ET always seemed like the kind of guy you'd cross the street to avoid, but to give him his due some of his pithier reviews still make me smile (e.g. on Suede: "Album of the year. And the year is 1973")

Ismael Klata, Thursday, 16 April 2009 19:56 (eleven years ago) link

he posted under his real name

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 16 April 2009 19:58 (eleven years ago) link

I also assumed that ET wasn't his real name.

Ismael Klata, Thursday, 16 April 2009 20:02 (eleven years ago) link

Some people need to get away from the idea that guitar based melodic music is only supposed to appeal to "boring old farts". It's timeless. It will always be here, and it will surive everything.

this is your occasional reminder Geir that while you like to believe this, it's clearly untrue

Just one thing I was thinking about as I was getting on the copter (J0hn D.), Thursday, 16 April 2009 20:27 (eleven years ago) link

I always kind of assumed this place was hack-and-muso-infested, but I've never been any good at working out who's who behind the arcane logins

i've been ilm'ing for fucking years and this side of the game still has me stumped bar a few of the more obvious ones and those that dont hide behind pseudos.

mark e, Thursday, 16 April 2009 20:28 (eleven years ago) link

im bob christgau fyi

rip dom passantino 3/5/09 never forget (max), Thursday, 16 April 2009 20:35 (eleven years ago) link

and this thread gets a b-

rip dom passantino 3/5/09 never forget (max), Thursday, 16 April 2009 20:35 (eleven years ago) link

how am i the first person to repost some old fart!!! lines

starsky and what (J0rdan S.), Thursday, 16 April 2009 20:40 (eleven years ago) link

Ahhh... That's better!!!

Old Fart!!

starsky and what (J0rdan S.), Thursday, 16 April 2009 20:40 (eleven years ago) link

That Guardian obituary of the MM has to be one of the most hilariously badly-written and ill-informed pieces of pop coverage even it has ever given us ...

― Lutra Lutra, Friday, 15 December 2000 01:00 (8 years ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

the earliest anti-guardian article post on ILM?

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 16 April 2009 20:48 (eleven years ago) link

http://seniorcitizen.blogspot.com/ old farts blog still exists!

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 16 April 2009 20:49 (eleven years ago) link

does he still post here?

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Thursday, 16 April 2009 23:58 (eleven years ago) link

But a look at the circulation figures (published at the end of the article) tell a different story. Top seller is (appropriately enough) TOTP by a large margin, (300,000+ sales) followed by Smash Hits, (200,000+) and then a fair bit behind that is our first dadrock mag, Q. (around 160,000)

I assume TOTP'S magazine doesnt exist now? What sales were Smash Hits getting when it folded?

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Friday, 17 April 2009 12:32 (eleven years ago) link

Melody Maker fans go to http://archivedmusicpress.wordpress.com/category/melody-maker/
pages and pages of scans for you to enjoy

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Sunday, 19 April 2009 14:10 (eleven years ago) link

this is your occasional reminder Geir that while you like to believe this, it's clearly untrue

It has proved to be true. Melodic pop/rock was first declared dead in the early 90s, then came grunge and Britpop. Then it was declared dead (at least in its singer-songwriter form) during the boy-girl band craze in the late 90s. Then came Travis and Coldplay. It will always be here, it will never disappear.

Geir Hongro, Sunday, 19 April 2009 16:54 (eleven years ago) link

you sure?

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Sunday, 19 April 2009 17:51 (eleven years ago) link

citation needed

Hard House SugBanton (blueski), Sunday, 19 April 2009 17:53 (eleven years ago) link

blueski , which of the weeklies did you think covered dance music best, NME or Melody Maker?
I always thought MM was better but just wondered what everyone else thought.

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Sunday, 19 April 2009 18:02 (eleven years ago) link

i only read MM about three times ever unfortunately, but i'm sure they did

Hard House SugBanton (blueski), Sunday, 19 April 2009 23:07 (eleven years ago) link

Did you buy NME then or did you always just buy mixmag/muzik?

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Monday, 20 April 2009 11:09 (eleven years ago) link

Geir is making the point that a 50 year-old art form will last FOR ALL ETERNITY which is clearly batshit and wrong but is at least proving entertaining.

Enormous Epic (Matt DC), Monday, 20 April 2009 11:16 (eleven years ago) link

Some people need to get away from the idea that Old Fart!!! posts are only supposed to appeal to old-ILM. They're timeless. They will always be here, and they will survive everything.

jesus is the man (jabba hands), Monday, 20 April 2009 11:28 (eleven years ago) link

Geir is making the point that a 50 year-old art form will last FOR ALL ETERNITY

I thought he was talking about flamenco

Bo, a 6-month-jackson Portuguese overdrive (Curt1s Stephens), Monday, 20 April 2009 11:51 (eleven years ago) link

i only bought around 50 or so NMEs between '94 and '01 probably. MM just never seemed as visible and i had got it into my head that it was not as good for some reason (if by chance i'd bought MM first i probably would've ended up feeling that way about NME).

Hard House SugBanton (blueski), Monday, 20 April 2009 12:02 (eleven years ago) link

probably. But MM was really really bad the last few years.

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Monday, 20 April 2009 13:29 (eleven years ago) link

I know late 80s/early 90s MM seems to have the better reputation these days but if the album lists are anything to go by the NME was covering way more interesting music.

Enormous Epic (Matt DC), Monday, 20 April 2009 13:36 (eleven years ago) link

Matt you're gonna be unpopular with steve, you've just given me an idea for a poll!

pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Monday, 20 April 2009 13:38 (eleven years ago) link

eight months pass...

IPC Media plans online revival of Melody Maker - Press Gazette
http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=1&storycode=44920&c=1
IPC plans to revive the Melody Maker name with a comprehensive online archive of the magazine - which ran from 1926 until it merged with the New Musical Express in 2000.

djmartian, Tuesday, 19 January 2010 12:32 (ten years ago) link

Found some old issues when packing up my mum's house at the weekend. Priceless commentary on world events from TFC and Jesus Jones in the Xmas '91 issue:

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2781/4285889815_256772f614.jpg

Michael Jones, Tuesday, 19 January 2010 12:45 (ten years ago) link

That's a pretty great picture. The bloke in behind could be crooning.

Ismael Klata, Tuesday, 19 January 2010 12:53 (ten years ago) link

Bobby Robson on the right?

We should have called Suzie and Bobby (NickB), Tuesday, 19 January 2010 12:55 (ten years ago) link

Melody Maker started in NINETEEN TWENTY-SIX?!?!?!?!?!??

Mr. Snrub, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 00:49 (ten years ago) link

http://www.r2ok.co.uk/mmaker1.jpg http://www.bl.uk/reshelp/findhelprestype/journals/modernmusic/melodysm.jpg

My grandad used to buy it in the 40's to read about dance bands.

We should have called Suzie and Bobby (NickB), Wednesday, 20 January 2010 01:00 (ten years ago) link

i interviewed a very elderly and quite senile spike milligan for the melody maker back in 1998, just when i started, and he said "i used to read the melody maker when it was a jazz magazine, but now its just full of monkey music"

anyways when I'm chopped, dip always kicks my ass lol (stevie), Wednesday, 20 January 2010 08:05 (ten years ago) link

pretty sure "jazz magazine" is a euphemism for something else

ecuador_with_a_c, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 09:10 (ten years ago) link

(... "50-year old fart form" ...)

t**t, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 10:38 (ten years ago) link

(xxxxxx-post)

t**t, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 10:38 (ten years ago) link

Those two covers are lovely. The first reminds me of the animation in Fantasia, or something 1920s anyway. I like that it's The Melody Maker too, that feels important.

Ismael Klata, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 11:25 (ten years ago) link

"A bungalow, a piccolo and you"

They don't write them like that anymore!

Mark G, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 11:28 (ten years ago) link

Once, when I was living back at home post-degree, I was laid up in bed ill with something or other and I asked my mum to pick up MM from the newsagents. "Oh, I used to buy that when I was your age!" (She was 63 and I was about 22 at the time). She came back looking thoroughly unimpressed with a magazine that had MEGA CITY FOUR CUT THE CRAP on the front cover and some guy in dreads sticking his tongue piercing out at the camera. Joe Loss it wasn't.

Michael Jones, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 11:33 (ten years ago) link

If they did an online archive of issues from the twenties and thirties, that would be awesome!!

Mr. Snrub, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 11:49 (ten years ago) link

Would love that. It's pretty sad that they ended up having weeks where a Mega City Four feature was the big selling point.

Ismael Klata, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 12:13 (ten years ago) link

They'd have represented a Hot New Thing at that point though surely?

Space Battle Rothko (Matt DC), Wednesday, 20 January 2010 12:16 (ten years ago) link

I guess that grunge was taking off and they were probably scrambling for suitably scruffy UK oiks? Would probably find them totally unlistenable now, but the MC4 were good fun at the time.

We should have called Suzie and Bobby (NickB), Wednesday, 20 January 2010 12:23 (ten years ago) link

I seem to remember it being a fairly confrontational feature - rather like the Levellers cover story around the same time. MC4, Senseless Things, etc were definitely not part of the prevailing early '90s MM aesthetic (they got +ve coverage in NME though and possibly Sounds before it folded) but this was a sort of state-your-case sop to a popular band. A sort of "we admire yr politics, why do you have make such a turgid racket"?

Michael Jones, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 13:06 (ten years ago) link

i interviewed a very elderly and quite senile spike milligan for the melody maker back in 1998, just when i started, and he said "i used to read the melody maker when it was a jazz magazine, but now its just full of monkey music"

Reminds me a little of when MM interviewed Bernard Manning sometime during the nineties. His opening gambit: "what do a jazz paper want to talk to me for?"

I think I remember that MC4 piece, they basically let the guy make a cock out of himself and gave him the cover for his trouble.
Here it is, and yeah I remember that sub-heading too:

http://www.rockofages.uk.com/stock/19987.jpg

Don't recall the girls on sex article tho.

DavidM, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 14:05 (ten years ago) link

http://tomewing.tumblr.com/post/342881741/1993

Space Battle Rothko (Matt DC), Wednesday, 20 January 2010 14:06 (ten years ago) link

Funny thing about that issue and cover -- when Melody Maker sponsored the Rollercoaster USA tour in late 1992 (Jesus and Mary Chain/Curve/Spiritualized) they sent over a huge batch of copies of a particular issue for distribution at each venue. Guess which issue.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 14:07 (ten years ago) link

what date was that issue of MM?

djmartian, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 14:11 (ten years ago) link

31/10/92. A bit later than I thought.

Michael Jones, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 14:17 (ten years ago) link

five years pass...

Who knew what fresh mayhem lay ahead - be it regional Idlewild fans swarming letters pages or over euthusiastic coverage to Paisley Underground veterans and Sam Peckinpah

Master of Treacle, Saturday, 25 April 2015 04:31 (five years ago) link

five years pass...

A Simon Price Melody Maker Spotify playlist here:

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5pQG5E8BNE3CwTREjEJY3h?fbclid=IwAR0PVnYKFstrr9lSgwBwOwRVgmsk1w7oC_fwnwBj_NKro3ecvBx5gOB471U

djh, Saturday, 21 November 2020 22:14 (one week ago) link


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