TI Media’s sale of NME and Uncut to musician-and fan-oriented social media platform BandLab Technologies has brought the state of the music magazine market into focus. 

Sector analysis seen by RN shows the wider music market faces year-on-year decline, but also reveals opportunities for shops that were supported by a leading independent publisher. 

The music sector is down 16% year on year in volume, and 10% in retail sales values. At more than £11m in value, however, it’s still one of the top 10 categories, with more niche areas outside the standard rock, dance or country lines still growing – the ‘other’ category showed growth of more than 23% last year, according to category analysis figures from Seymour, with rock and classical genres showing less than 10% declines. 

Anthem Publishing has shown that with carefully targeted magazines – Vintage Rock, Long Live Vinyl and Classic Pop are its key brands – the music sector can still be lucrative. Anthem CEO Jon Bickley said: “You need to have a clear purpose with your titles. Ours are for the more mature music fan, but we know with something like Long Live Vinyl that readers like physical media and it chimes well with the audience.

“It’s about treating people to a good physical product and quality journalism. If you do that, you can charge premium prices, which makes it more sustainable.”

He pointed to The Bowie Years one shot series as well as Classic Pop special one shots – the current Kylie Minogue one saw the singer featuring the publication on her Instagram feed – as examples of publications working. 

Discussing the sale of NME and Uncut, TI Media chief executive Marcus Rich said: “We need to recognise that to achieve the next stage of their evolution, NME and Uncut will be better placed with a business that has music at its heart.” 

BandLab Technologies aims to be a global music media business, and said the magazines will help towards this ambition.

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