MEDIA ANALYSIS: Let's face the music mags and dance

With the BRIT Awards honouring the movers and shakers of the music world this week, PROs pounced on the event to target music magazines. Matt Cartmell discovers the best way to approach this specialist market.

Manic Street Preachers
Manic Street Preachers

The BRIT Awards, which were held on Wednesday night, can always be relied on to sustain the gossip pages of newspapers and magazines during this week. It is also a peak time in the calendar for PR specialists to target music magazines, in a bid to capitalise on the awards to promote their acts.

Market consolidation over the past five years means there are a small selection of British music magazines targeting different sections of the fan pie.

New Musical Empire
Possibly the most high profile of these is IPC's NME, although its circulation is down six per cent in the past six months, according to the latest ABC figures. Over the same period there has been an eight per cent increase to 1,824,038 in's unique users, which suggests the readership is gradually moving online.

The weekly magazine targets the alternative youth market and has successful brand extensions. is a well-respected website for its news and events coverage, picking up a BT Digital Music Award in October 2007.

Other brand extensions are NME TV and the NME Awards, which take place at the O2 Arena on 28 February. The Manic Street Preachers will pick up this year's Godlike Genius Award.

Bauer Publishing Group recently bought Emap's music portfolio, including the monthly Q, targeting the populist taste; Mojo for the classic rock fan and the weekly Kerrang! for rock kids.

Also popular is The Fly, a free monthly magazine that caters for the indie market, published by Channelfly.

Music's growing shift to online is reflected in publishing - NME breaks its news stories online first, while Bauer's stable has successful online radio stations that reflect the editorial line. Online music PR is generally handled by specialist agencies such as Hyperlaunch.

Magazines that focus on new music enjoy a good rapport with PR specialists. NME editor Conor McNicholas says: 'We have incredibly close relationships with music PROs. They are as passionate as us and are often good tipsters.'

Tones Sansom is a founder of Triad Publicity, which promoted Oasis in their early days. His advice to aspiring music PROs is simple: 'Don't bludgeon people. The ideal scenario is where you're helping people discover something. Things develop over time, so be patient.'

McNicholas advises PROs to 'know your level'. He adds: 'The crap I get from people who put my name down on an email lists never ceases to amaze me. It all gets deleted, then their address gets blocked and reported.'

The Fly editor Will Kinsman adds that mis-targeted products are his own pet hate: 'People try to flog us pop bands or dance music. Some also try to push films or games, which we don't even cover. It paints them in a bad light.'

Before a music PRO starts promoting a band's new single, they should know where it fits. 'Q isn't going to be interes- ted until there's an amazing amount of heat,' says Sansom. 'It wants something bankable. Before then you should get The Fly, NME, and underground titles such as Plan B and Artrocker.'

Savidge PR founder Phill Savidge, who has handled PR for Pulp and The Verve, says PR people need to place a new band in context when selling to magazines aimed at older people such as Q, Mojo and Uncut. Define musicians' influences, background or their personalities. 'It is not enough to say "I've got a singer-songwriter",' he comments.

Meanwhile, consumer brands are increasingly fascinated with becoming allied with the music world.

Spring PR and Marketing have brands that wish to associate themselves with music, including Jack Daniel's and Hugo Fragrances. A major focus is the Jack Daniel's annual 'JD Set' with national live music events.

Appeal to the right people
Spring MD Rhiannon Scott says: 'Brands are better off using specialist agencies with music expertise as they have good contacts and an instinct for what the magazines will be interested in.' Clearly she has much to gain from this but NME's McNicholas agrees that outsiders do not often fare well.

Spring's targets are predominantly editorial, but they do use promotions such as giving away exclusive tickets, and could liaise with a magazine's editor or promotions director on this.

Kinsman advises agencies to consider the relevancy of their campaigns. 'Colgate's agency was doing a new bands competition,' he says. 'Why would a toothpaste manufacturer want to be involved in grimy indie rock? Some of it is really cringeworthy.'

Circulation: 76,937
Editor: Paul Brannigan
Digital Deputy editor:

Circulation: 106,218
Albums editor: Jenny Bulley
Digital Consultant editor:

Circulation: 64,033
News editor: Paul Stokes
Digital editor:

Circulation: 131,330
Reviews editor: Ted Kessler
Digital Associate editor:

The Fly
Circulation: 103,051
Editor: Will Kinsman
Deputy editor: Niall Doherty

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