F is for filter in this online jukebox

In just a few short years, FMagazine has become the digital music outlet of choice for the discerning downloader. And now it's heading to Los Angeles. By Meg Carter

The tiny Covent Garden flat which is the office of digital music bible FMagazine is in disarray. Removal men are packing boxes next door ahead of a move to leafy Kensington, and FMagazine co-founders Marquis Luca Bosurgi and Chrissie Adams are preparing to leave for Los Angeles to open FMagazine's Bel Air office before attending a convention in Las Vegas as guests of Microsoft. Their excitement, however, is palpable. "At last," says Adams, "after seven tough years, it seems our time has come."

FMagazine is what a magazine should be for a 21st-century media marketplace, its founders insist: independent, informed, passionate, eclectic, and accessible via different digital media platforms. It offers high-quality album-track audio streams from latest releases spanning a broad range of musical genres, and feisty editorial written by a team of independent music editors. A new feature - FMagazineTV - is "MTV for the 21st century", they not so humbly claim.

The British pair are unlikely leaders of a music TV revolution. Bosurgi, a former venture capitalist, and Adams, one-time model and founder of Nineties fashion industry magazine New Generation, met in 1998. Having spent a year in New York at the height of the dotcom boom, Adams was eager to move into digital publishing. Bosurgi, who had capital to invest, agreed to help her to create a high-quality online entertainment "experience". Their ambition was ahead of its time. Conceived as a multimedia music, art and culture magazine for students, FMagazine was first launched on CD-Rom.

Bosurgi and Adams quickly refined their product for an audience of 25-45 year-old urban dwellers, and moved it on to the internet where it established itself as a bit of an oddity: a website that called itself a magazine which mixed streamed audio and video with more conventional text and images. Content appeared within a traditional double-page spread format, and users navigated by clicking on the bottom right corner to turn to the next page. An online jukebox, meanwhile, allowed users to stream new and yet to be released tracks while browsing the 200-odd pages of content.

The glossy magazine production style, however, appealed to advertisers, including Adidas, Beck's and Harvey Nichols. And record labels quickly latched on to the opportunity that FMagazine's upmarket audience of early adopters provided for generating word of mouth for new albums and breakthrough acts.

As broadband internet access went mainstream, however, FMagazine changed again. "The format has now evolved into a form of interactive TV," explains Bosurgi. "Today, it's an entertainment experience which challenges the definition of 'magazine' - although I firmly believe that ours is the appropriate definition for tomorrow's media landscape."

A grand claim, perhaps, but one endorsed by Microsoft when, last autumn, the computer giant invited FMagazine on to its roster of content partners - which also include media goliaths AOL, MSN, Reuters and Napster - for the Windows XP Media Centre. The Media Centre lets you connect your home PC to your TV and even games console, enabling you to consume TV, DVDs, CDs and internet content as if it all came from just a single source using a simple remote control.

Suddenly, FMagazine was hanging out with the big boys; it has since been bundled into Microsoft's latest games console, the XBox 360. And this, along with increased availability of broadband internet access and the phenomenal success of the iPod, is behind Adams's claim that their time has come.

"The iPod presents people with a fundamental challenge, and us with a big opportunity," she explains. "How can you find out about the best new music, and where can you get it. Not so long ago how many tracks you had on your iPod was what counted. Now, however, people have grown more discerning: it's what those tracks are that counts. Music has become such common currency nowadays that everyone's expected to have an opinion."

Despite the proliferation of music-related websites jostling for attention, finding good new music has become harder, not easier, she claims. Music radio stations revolve around computer-generated playlists. Most music-related websites focus on news and gossip. Record labels, meanwhile, still rely heavily on plugging certain acts while those without deep enough pockets risk languishing in obscurity.

"The 'F' in FMagazine stands for filter," Adams explains, "and that's our role - to cream off the best new music that we feature not because we're paid to, but because our editors believe it's truly great."

"We have good relationships with all the major record labels and many of the independents, but we reject 90 per cent of what we receive - we prefer to reflect what our editors believe is the best new music.

"Other music sites go for quantity; they feature whatever music they can get hold of; we're more choosy."

The music policy is simple, if subjective: good music across a selection of genres ranging from pop to reggae, drum'n'bass, metal, or rock. "Editorial is dictated by quality, not numbers," she insists. "Although that's not to say we're not into anything commercial - cool pop like the Sugababes, for example, could make it into FMagazine. But what we don't want is cheesy pop, like Chico."

Adams, who is also FMagazine's managing editor, oversees a virtual editorial team whose experience spans established titles such as NME, Melody Maker and Ministry. Rock editor Viv Craske is a former editor of Mixmag; metal and punk editor Ashley Bird used to edit Kerrang!. Some combine journalism with other music-related activities - house editor Lynda Phoenix is an established club DJ; Bird, meanwhile, plays in his own band, Iodine. A handful of US music editors will be recruited as soon as FMagazine has finalised the details of its new office in LA.

Editorial content changes every two weeks on a rolling basis to keep the site fresh. Altogether 150 albums are featured at any one time, with three tracks from each available for users to hear in full. Advertisers, meanwhile, can place either static ads or TV commercials on the site - users encounter a randomly scheduled full-screen commercial every three editorial pages they navigate.

Seven years in and FMagazine's regular readership exceeds 100,000; daily visits to the site are growing monthly by 20 per cent, and up to nine advertisers use the site at any time - each paying up to £10,000 a month.

"It's become a respectable business, but it's unlikely ever to become part of any establishment," Adams declares. "We love being an independent oddity." And with that they're off: Bosurgi and Adams have got a plane to catch.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Account Executive / Account Manager

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive / Account Manager is ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Social Media Account Writers

£12000 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This social media management pr...

Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor (Magazine Publishing) - Wimbledon - £23-26K

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor - Wimbledon...

Ashdown Group: Editor (Magazines/Publishing) - Wimbledon - £26-30K

£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Editor (Magazines/Publish...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones