Music coverage has spread to Newspapers, with many offering a section dedicated music, with the latest news and reviews of albums and live concerts. For example ‘The Sun’ which has a ‘Bizarre’ column all about music. Often tabloids offer music gossip and fun reviews, where they focus on the personal lives of the artists. The broadsheets often provide more serious information, including reviews from top music critics who have the similar tastes and views as the majority of the newspaper’s readers. The reviews can help provide the record companies with critical feedback, so that they can maintain or change their standards accordingly. If the author of the review is well respected then they can have significant effect on the artist’s success.
One broad category of the UK music press is weekly consumer papers, for example NME, which really helped to support the Indie scene. NME began publication in 1952, and marketed to the new generation of teenage record buyers in the UK. The NME was closely tied into the record industry, and mainly focussed on the stars of popular music, with little critical perspective in the music covered.
Readers are able to consume magazines at their own pace and independently. They only select parts of the magazine that interests them, so magazines must make an impact straight away. There are common themes in the segmented market of the music press, that are consumer related. Different magazines provide attractive covers to immediately grab our attention and the size of magazines and scope vary according to readership. Some have different rating systems as reviews, such as a star system to rate new bands, or a skull rating in a heavy metal magazine.
Music magazines are purveyors of style and help promote dress, hair and lifestyle. For many bands this helped to really launch them and get their style noticed and recognisable to their fans. Smash Hits provided colour pictures on their front page with different artist’s unique and wild appearances. These magazines really act as promotional devices for the artists and record companies. They provide quotes for adverts and form part of the press kit sent to radio stations.
There are three types of music press. Firstly there is industry related press, such as mergers, jobs, staff changes, copy right and advice to retailers. Such magazines include ‘Music Week’ and Billboard.’ There is also performer relate press such as ‘Down beat’. This concentrates on the technical aspect of performing and new hardware. It helps to provide a sense of community among musicians. Finally there is consumer related press, which includes teen glosses and covers niche markets.
The music press really helps influence people’s tastes on recent musical releases and encourages the readers to buy certain albums. They act as ideological gatekeepers; if they provide good reviews on an album then the reader trusts their judgement and will share similar views. This can often lead to the two-step flow, where people will read a review then become an opinion leader and tell their friends about it. This may then encourage them both to purchase the album and others who they may also tell.
Fanzines are produced by one person, or a group of friends working from their homes. They help to preserve the memory of particular artists and styles, but are more often progressive. The initial impact of punk rock in the UK in the 1970s was aided by a network of fanzines and their enthusiastic supporters. In the 1980s the growth of heavy metal was aided by metal fanzines. With the radio giving metal little airplay and the mainstream press hostile to it, metal fanzines became an important part of the record companies’ promotion activities.