Inside Story: Rocking all over the world


Tony Elliott, who published the first 'Time Out' in London in 1968, talks Sophie Morris through some of the milestone incarnations of a magazine that has turned into a global brand

"What 'Time Out' does is really simple - it provides information about major cities in a very contemporary and up-to-date way. The test I always use for any city, and it never fails to work, is to ask: how much live music is there in the city, and does the existing competition cover it well?

"We realised that going to other cities in the UK such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and Bristol was entering fairly small territories where you'd be lucky if you got a circulation of 20,000. That meant you'd never have the money to spend on building a proper magazine.

"Getting involved with Paris in 1988 started a more international view. It wasn't a regular weekly magazine, but a number of different products serving the English-language market. So, in the early Nineties, there was 'Time Out' in London and a base in Paris. The logical extension was when we finally launched a weekly 'Time Out' in New York in 1995.

"Five years later, we met some people wanting to publish a licensed local edition - in Istanbul. People often think that 'Time Out' is this British brand trying to parachute into places and establish itself. In fact, it's almost the opposite: 'Time Out' is a local brand in each place that it operates, done by local people for local residents. All of the current licensed international editions are good examples of how flexible the model and the formula is. Many are in markets where there isn't any real, established competition. It's all about creating a market.

"The other key thing about all these people is that, from day one, they desperately want to get it right. You don't get any bright-arsed publishers saying, 'You know what, we'll just redesign it'. They want to do it perfectly. But there is also a certain unquantifiable spirit of independence and character throughout all the publications.

"We could take a more hands-on approach with, say, Paris, Berlin or Rome, but for most of the international editions, it's very important that things are done by experienced local people. We anticipate launches with new partners in Beirut, Barcelona, Bucharest and Singapore during 2006."

DUBAI

Launched: 2001

Frequency: weekly

Audited Circulation: ABC Jan-Jun 2005 - 29,855

"Dubai came after Istanbul. The city is really excited by its Time Out, and people there are just amazed! By certain measures, Dubai is now one of the fastest growing cities in the world. A lot of other publishers are saying, 'Oh, my god! How come we didn't realise that there was a market out there?'. It's in English and speaks to the expat and tourist market. Abu Dhabi Time Out started about eight months afterwards. They were a business-to-business publishers and this was their first consumer licensed title. They've just gone weekly, which is big news as there's an established monthly competitor in Dubai, so it's upping the ante quite dramatically. "

ISTANBUL

Launched: 2001

Frequency: monthly

Print run: 15,000

"Istanbul is a funny market, because there's a small élite. They're very Turkish but they're also kind of international in character. The couple who own and run it knew Time Out really well and understood it completely, and they had a passion to do it in Istanbul. They do an English version too, which started by going out with the Turkish edition, but they soon realised that it's two completely different audiences. Nobody's going to buy the Turkish edition for its English content, and vice versa. And that established a pattern - there are distinct audiences for distinct products in different languages in the same city."

MEXICO CITY

Launched: 2003

Frequency: monthly, with Chilango magazine

Print run: 65,000

Paid circulation: 40,000

"Mexico City is an interesting hybrid. The idea is that the front part, Chilango, is moving towards being an urban lifestyle magazine, and the listings element is Time Out. Somewhere down the line, the Time Out could be spun out as a stand-alone. They are the only serious publishers in Mexico to whom, in spirit and philosophy, we could be close, and they have raised the standard. The model isn't typical for us, but in an important market - it's one of the biggest cities in the world - these were the right people to work with. They are unique in Latin America."

TEL AVIV

Launched: 2002

Frequency: weekly

Print run: 16,000

"All the individuals with whom we've dealt are international travellers and entrepreneurs. In the case of Time Out Tel Aviv, although the publisher's business is in Israel, once you meet him you know he has spent a lot of time in the world. More than anywhere, I think that Israel has demonstrated what you can do with this one brand in a local market. He publishes a weekly magazine in Hebrew, a monthly magazine aimed at visitors to Tel Aviv in English, with a section in French, a quarterly kids magazine, numerous mini guides, and a Time Out Tel Aviv men-focused supplement. He believes that with this brand, he can cover any sector of interest in lifestyle, entertainment, arts and culture in Israel, and it's incredibly powerful. The Hebrew-language weekly has replicated the same sort of power within the film community there as it has in London and New York."

BEIJING

Launched: 2003

Frequency: monthly

Print run: 35,000

"China is very challenging in lots of areas. Time Out Beijing launched at the beginning of the Sars crisis, and they had the launch party planned for when the city shut down completely - it was a very difficult time. It's difficult in terms of distribution, too, as there are thousands of points of sale in Beijing, but they won't hold more than a handful of copies of your magazine in each one. The people we're working with are having to create the market, to a certain extent, and find creative ways to get the product into the hands of the right people. They are the first publication in the market doing independent editorial and critical reviews. They're taking on a massive challenge and by no means going down an easy route in terms of advertising by being independent. It's a talked-about product and it's reaching the right people. That's the key thing."

MUMBAI

Launched: 2004

Frequency: fortnightly

Print run: 42,000

"The woman behind Time Out Mumbai had spent a lot of time in New York and London, so she understood what Time Out could be. They've done a spectacular job. It really feels like what an Indian version should be. If you look at the tiny touches they've put in the design and the editorial voice, it's just so uniquely Indian. It's a complicated city, where a 'news-stand' might be a kid with a dusty blanket spread out on a street corner selling a handful of magazines. The market for city magazines was very much created by them, and due to the impact it has had, there are now several competing launches planned. There are six major metropolitan areas in India on the agenda, and many are emerging markets where you need to reach the élite quickly. Delhi launches in January."

CYPRUS

Launched: 2002

Frequency: monthly

Print run: 7,000

"Cyprus looked at publishing in English, but then chose Greek. The flagship model of what Time Out should be before you do other stuff is publishing local listings, reviews and independent editorial with a local team for the local market. For the population (about 600,000), they do very healthy newsstand sales. They do an annual edition in English for tourists, and they're now looking at doing a more regular English-language publication."

MOSCOW

Launched: 2004

Frequency: weekly

Print Run: 50,000

"The publishing house had an existing fortnightly magazine in St Petersburg, very clearly inspired by Time Out, which it wanted to brand and turn 100 per cent Time Out. It has done a fantastic job. The eye on the market was in Moscow - the real money in Russia is being moved in Moscow - and as soon as the Moscow magazine was in place, the St Petersburg magazine blossomed. This is what happens in a lot of places where you've got more than one metropolitan centre, in order to give it some sort of national reach for brand advertisers. The publisher has ambitious plans for the former Soviet Bloc and Baltic states."

CHICAGO

Launched: March 2005

Frequency: weekly

Circulation: 40,000

"We launched Chicago in March this year. This is our own business. The plan was that, once we got established in New York and were profitable, we would look at other cities. It's a manageable distance from New York and its profile is similar; in fact, there's more live music in Chicago than in New York. It's only 26 weeks old, but it's going very well. Advertisers liked it immediately, and they feel we've delivered what we promised. Los Angeles has been talked about, but it's more likely we'll do Miami as there's huge brand recognition of Time Out, because so many people from New York hang out in Miami. If there is a sequence as such, it will be Miami next, then Toronto and then LA."

NEW YORK

Launched: 1995

Frequency: weekly

Audited circulation: 138,960 (ABC Jul-Dec 2004)

"I had always wanted to do Time Out in New York because it's very similar to London, and all the sources of listings and event information there were crap. I remember going to New York in 1973 and realising that there was a significant gap in the market. People who know me well from back then would say: 'Tony's always talked about doing Time Out in New York.'

"It was built from scratch with Americans - there were no British staff. It showed that the Time Out formula would work elsewhere. That changed people's perceptions, and from that point, all of this grew."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Sport
Rooney celebrates with striker-partner Radamel Falcao after the pair combine to put United ahead
footballManchester United vs Newcastle match report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Brand Marketing Manager - Essex - £45,000 + £5000 car allowance

£40000 - £45000 per annum + car allowance: Ashdown Group: Senior Brand Manager...

Guru Careers: .NET Developer /.NET Software Developer

£26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a .NET Developer /.NET Software ...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing Exec (SEO / PPC)

£18 - 24k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing...

Guru Careers: Technical Operations Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Technical Ope...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all