MEDIA: DANCE MAGAZINES - Dance steps into mainstream culture. While the recent closures of Melody Maker and Select spell trouble for the rock music press, the dance titles go from strength to strength

The popularity of dance music continues to reverberate throughout the media world. Just before Christmas dance station Kiss FM knocked long-term champ Capital Radio off the top spot as the most listened to station among London's youth. Now, the country's oldest rock music newspaper Melody Maker has closed after 73 years, and the monthly indie (read guitar-based) music magazine, Select has gone the same way.

The popularity of dance music continues to reverberate throughout the media world. Just before Christmas dance station Kiss FM knocked long-term champ Capital Radio off the top spot as the most listened to station among London's youth. Now, the country's oldest rock music newspaper Melody Maker has closed after 73 years, and the monthly indie (read guitar-based) music magazine, Select has gone the same way.

The closures provide further proof that dance music and its associated culture are now mainstream and any media ventures caught outside the charmed circle are threatened.

While Capital attempts to update its image, IPC and emap, the publishers of Melody Maker and Select respectively, can be thankful that they both have a footing in the burgeoning dance culture magazine market.

The biggest title, emap's Mixmag, increased circulation 43 per cent year on year to 96,483 (ABC for the six months to June 2000) and Ministry, published by the organisation behind the Ministry of Sound club, grew 18 per cent to 95,088. IPC also has Muzik, which, despite losing circulation slightly in the same period, is still a lot stronger than Melody Maker was at close, with a circulation of 40,092.

The magazines thrive on the sexy, stylish image of the music and feature news and gossip about clubs and dance music with either some lifestyle content (clothes, drinks, drugs, screen-based entertainment) or some techy DJ content (the latest hardware and techniques).

Ministry, which gets a regular drip-feed of the credibility so important for a title in this area from its association with the club, has more lifestyle content than the other three titles.

Mixmag, whose owners have no desire either to cannibalise their lifestyle titles FHM and Sky, seems more content to stick to dance territory, but even here there has been an expansion from dance music to dance culture content generally.

Richard Welch, managing partner at Reverb, the agency that handles the account for the club Fabric, says: 'Both the big magazines have more lifestyle content than they did. The point is that dance music is no longer a sub-culture - it is mainstream. People reading the dance magazines are more interested in the personalities and the brands than the latest 12 inch.'

With the popularity of dance music showing no sign of waning, the magazine sector is a bouyant marketplace with considerable room for growth especially for those titles crucially striking the right balance between credibility and accessibility.



MIXMAG

Russell Jones

Position: youth brand director

Publisher: emap performance

Circulation: ABC 96,483 (Jan-June 2000)

'Mixmag has stayed true to its roots while other titles in the market have diversified. It is all about the clubber's lifestyle. We provide credible information and on-the-money entertainment. Our readers are not terribly defined by age, the majority of them are young - 16 to 22 - but there is an increasing number of late 20s and even early 30s who see clubbing as an important part of their lives.

'The whole area of dance music is still on a roll, it is becoming the main music genre. Because of the position we are in, PR agencies do come to us with stuff and we are happy that they do, but we try to stay independent and have our own view of everything.'



MINISTRY

Stephen Worthy

Position: deputy editor

Publisher: Ministry Magazines

Circulation: ABC 95,088 (Jan-June 2000)

'The magazine started in 1998. We see it as totally independent from the nightclub, it is about dance culture overall. Our readers are 18 to 25, with the core in their early 20s. They mostly have full-time jobs, go clubbing every fortnight, buy a lot of dance music and listen to dance music on Radio 1. We have a lifestyle edge to our magazine - something that sets us apart from the other dance magazines.

'We do more fashion, drug-related stories, more films and games. PR agencies are a very important resource for us, we have 15 to 20 pages of music and reviews for which they are important, but we use them on all aspects of the magazine.'



MUZIK

Chris Elwell-Sutton

Position: editor

Publisher: IPC

Circulation: ABC 40,092 (Jan-June 2000)

'Our typical reader is a little bit older than for the other mags, about 24. They are also very interested in technology like mobile phones. Most of them are involved in DJing to some extent. We have a section in the mag called Bedroom Bedlam - we help them take their hobby to the next level. We have more pages of reviews and detailed reviews of the DJing equipment.

'A lot of people are interested in the music but are not dance music trainspotters so we are trying to give it a broader appeal. I am also trying to reflect the fun of club culture and make the front section more lifestyle. We deal with PROs on music and lifestyle - clothes, drinks, etc.'



DJ

Paul Fowler

Position: business manager

Publisher: Nexus Media

Circulation: ABC 23,522 (Jan-June 2000)

'The magazine has been going ten years in its present form. Our readers are primarily working or aspiring DJs. It is a fortnightly which gives us a big advantage for things like reviewing new releases. We are a specialist publication, it is not about fashion, it is about the music and the people that make it, the DJs who are the new pop stars.

'The magazine is split into two sections. About 80 per cent of it is about music - there are a lot of charts and a lot of singles reviews. The back end of the book is more to do with equipment. Our editorial team rely heavily on PROs, especially the music PROs.'



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