Music magazines: A revolutionary new medium for the iPod generation - print

Every technological breakthrough is a big opportunity, writes Mat Snow

It's only when you have to persuade a board of directors to invest in the multi-million pound launch of a music magazine that the fundamental foundation of success in this sector becomes glaringly obvious: every successful mainstream music title has sprung to life off the back of a technical innovation in music consumption.

It's only when you have to persuade a board of directors to invest in the multi-million pound launch of a music magazine that the fundamental foundation of success in this sector becomes glaringly obvious: every successful mainstream music title has sprung to life off the back of a technical innovation in music consumption.

The weekly warhorse New Musical Express got its start thanks to the launch in the 1950s of the 45rpm vinyl single; Rolling Stone rolled off the back of the deregulation of FM radio in the US which opened the airwaves to playing non-stop 40 album tracks; Smash Hits exploded thanks to the cheap and mobile Sony Walkman, with new technology moving the pop video to centre-stage as a promotional tool for new music; Q's rise was practically index-linked to the CD boom; the magazine I edited in the 1990s, Mojo, and its rival Uncut, owed their success to Amazon and the availability of obscure rock records to buy online.

So when we find ourselves amid the biggest change in music consumption since Edison's phonograph for business dictation was so lucratively hijacked by less high-minded entrepreneurs to record and reproduce music for the masses a century ago, how come the music magazine market presents such a picture of stagnation?

It is the revolutionary rather than evolutionary nature of music downloading that is making it so hard for the existing music titles to keep up. Whereas the century-long progress through music-carrying formats - wax, shellac, vinyl, tape, silver disc - gave the consumer no more trouble than upgrading the hardware, while the producer was secure in the ownership of the industrial process by which music was delivered from artist to listener, this is not the case now.

The new music consumer still needs hardware, but today's generation-on-the-go is most likely to listen to it on an iPod or similar player, which liberates him and her from home base, just as the mobile phone has done. Beyond that, the music has no physical dimension other than the space it takes to store in the memory. Ding dong, the disc is dead.

For the producer, the revolution has even more impact: with music directly transferable from the artist to the listener via the internet, the music industry's future in manufacture and distribution is looking doubtful, leaving a rump of functions based around bankrolling, grooming and marketing artists and repertoire. Whereas music consumption has boomed in recent years thanks to the download revolution, paradoxically the music industry has suffered. The reason is simple: the new consumers have not been buying but stealing the music.

For the existing music magazines, once solid ground is shifting under their feet: no discs engraved with music; fans who steal rather than buy; the core advertising base staring into the abyss. How can a music magazine talk to the new generation - gleefully guilt-free pick'n'mixers - while still addressing the previous generations of loyal investors in high-priced CDs and artistic careers? And without alienating the music industry advertisers whose livelihoods are being eroded by that often light-fingered download generation?

The mission is perhaps not impossible - in the UK both NME and the relaunched Q are now courting downloaders to join their still CD-centred world - but is a whole lot easier if you start off, as we have, with a blank page. Rip & Burn launches on 30 September, a magazine with no readers to lose, but a generation to gain.

We know that downloading is not an add-on activity to CD-buying but increasingly a replacement, with young music fans who have never bought a CD. We know that the album as the basic currency unit of music is in decline: with millions of tracks available to download legally or otherwise, why waste time and sometimes money on filler when there is no shortage of thriller? In Q, NME and the rest of the music press, the continued focus on the new album considered in its totality speaks less to a rising generation who want, first and foremost, to be guided to the best bits.

We know that those same fans' impatience with the slow-burning or second-rate is reflected too in their attitude to information: for the attention-deficit generation, life offers too many competing attractions not to get straight to the point.

Again, this is quite a cultural hurdle to leap for a music journalist community weaned on the traditional primacy of the personality writer, through whose taste and literary style the world of music is refracted. That is not to say that the download generation doesn't value knowledgeable guidance on what's hot; they just don't want clever-dick older-brother lectures.

Our job on Rip & Burn will be to share our passion for great music in cyberspace - and movies, DVDs, games and gadgets which cross-breed in the online world - while guiding the fan through the virtual megastore of downloadable tracks.

Why a magazine and not a website, though? Unlike a clunky desktop or even laptop computer, it is inexpensive, accessible, tactile and above all mobile - a piece of old technology that harmonises with the cutting edge of the new listening experience. No wonder my board of directors said yes.

Mat Snow is editor-in-chief of 'Rip & Burn' magazine, which launches on 30 September

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football Polish side was ejected from Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel you sales role is li...

Head of Marketing (Online & Offline, Media, Digital, Strategy)

£85000 - £100000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing - Slough, Berkshi...

Administration Assistant / Office Assistant

£18 - 20k + Bonus: Guru Careers: An Administration Assistant / Office Assistan...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone