Classic FM magazine joins the mainstream

If you associate Classic FM magazine solely with classical music, think again.

Classic FM relaunch issue
Classic FM relaunch issue

The off-shoot of radio station Classic FM has branched out into fine wines, travel and art in its lifestyle-based relaunch. For example, did you know a glass of Pinot Noir is best served with a side order of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata?

The new five-page section called 'Classic Life' showcases food and wine, travel and hi-fi equipment, while linking back to classical music through a 'perfect with ...' suggestion as to which piece of music would suit the relevant product. There is also a two-page culture listings spread covering everything from art to architecture, with Classic FM radio presenters choosing highlights.

Classic FM magazine outsells its rival BBC Music by two to one, and Gramophone by three to one. It is 'perfectly in tune' with the radio station - itself due to have a makeover on 30 March - as it 'makes classical music more accessible, modern and relevant', explains its editor John Evans.

The relaunch aims to broaden the magazine's reach. 'It is a music magazine first, but we felt it was becoming predictable. We are justified in introducing complementary interests into the magazine,' says Evans.

The loyal readers are 'ABC1 men in their late fifties to early sixties', says Evans. 'The relaunch will help to attract a more casual female listener of classical music as there are more entry points.' The lifestyle content will position the magazine next to food and home titles on the newsstands, and the crossover cover stars, such as Michael Parkinson and 13-year-old opera singer Faryl Smith, are designed to appeal to the middle-ground females.

One agency quick to make use of the extra sections is Clarion Communications. 'The readers are the perfect target for premium products such as our wine clients,' says Melda Simon, associate director at the consumer agency. '"Classic Life" is relevant to a lot of brands from music to food to technology. I will definitely be in touch more.'

Rosie Watson, account director of food specialist FML PR, agrees. She presented English wine maker Bookers Vineyard to the magazine. 'The new sections present an ideal opportunity for lifestyle editorial outside the music scene,' she says.

Despite the changes to the magazine's content, there is still a place for traditional music agencies. EMI Classics works with the title on a regular basis, most recently pitching classical trumpeter Alison Balsom.

EMI's press and promotions manager Alexa Robertson says: 'Its tie-in with Classic FM radio station makes it a strong cross-platform media proposition.'

Circulation 35,751 (ABC Jan-Dec 08)

Frequency monthly

Contacts Editor John Evans


A minute with... John Evans, editor, Classic FM magazine

John EvansWho reads Classic FM magazine?

The percentage is 60/40 in favour of men. They are in their late fifties to sixties, are pretty conservative, read the Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph and their pension pots are shrivelling.

What differentiates you from your competitors?

We take ourselves a little less seriously than BBC Music and Gramophone. Our cover stars are people such as Michael Parkinson and Lesley Garrett. With us there is a gentle slope from our magazine to general interest titles, whereas there is a vertical cliff for our competitors.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Classic FM magazine does not cater for the hardcore music nut, as Gramophone does, but this means it gives us a broader reach.

Advice to PR professionals

PR is increasingly important in a recession as music fans are pulling in their horns, so we have a lot of contact with big record label PROs. We would ask PR people to think more creatively, as we will experience a squeeze on budgets.

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