Is the fall in print circulation and the rise in digital platforms jeopardising sustainability in music journalism?
In my dissertation I will be looking at the fall in the circulation of music magazines and the increase in audiences engaging with music journalism digitally.
As well as just focusing on music, I will be looking at the magazine and journalism industries as a whole as it is not only music journalism that is changing. In fact, latest ABC figures revealed that only 60 out of 442 UK printed magazines increased sales in 2015. Due to the fall in circulation of print I will be examining why this is happening and how magazines are shifting to digital media to sustain audiences, and how they can generate income from this.
As well as magazines moving onto digital platforms, I will also be looking at blogging and how it affects the demand for professional and quality music journalism. By discussing these topics, I aim to create a very detailed argument that examines all of the possible outcomes.
The circulation of music magazines has been falling and some have even had to go into administration. It is not just music magazines that are losing sales but in fact most magazines thanks to digital platforms.
With an increase in audiences online and the expectations from consumers to view content for free, there is a risk of not generating enough income through having to rely solely on advertisers.
Due to how easily accessible digital platforms are there has also been an increase in the amount of bloggers there are. Amateurs have the ability to set up their own music blogs and write reviews etc. in the comfort of their own homes with no experience and no expectations of being paid by someone. With the rise in bloggers, some argue that there is no longer a need for professional music journalism as you can read anyone’s opinions of musicians anywhere with the click of a button. Therefore, there is less chance of people being paid for their work and having a career in music journalism.
Details of research:
My research will include interviews, reading academic journals and books, reading biographies and news stories and finding published data.
My preferred way to interview my primary sources is to interview them either face to face or on the phone and record them, so I have an audio file that I can listen to and refer back to. However, I will also be open to communicating with individuals through email as they are very busy people. The aim of these interviews will be to gather opinions and facts on the subject of my dissertation to back up my argument.
My secondary sources will be used to assert any points I make and will help create a balanced argument.
Any data I collect will also help back up arguments and will demonstrate issues like the decline in sales of magazines.
In my research I am going to find a wide range of different opinions for my argument in my dissertation. It is important to me to have a good balance of sources who argue for and against.
For the dissertation I am going to rely heavily on primary sources, as the topic of the discussion is more recent and there will not be as many secondary sources I could use out there. I have already identified industry experts to speak to, who are music journalists, editors and producers. I also plan to use academic sources, and published works and books.
My list of sources I have identified is small and I plan to identify more over the summer as I conduct more extensive research.
- Clare McDonnell (BBC Radio 5 Live). Former presenter on BBC Radio 6 Music. She has had experience in music and entertainment journalism.
- Sylvia Patterson. Music journalist who has working in the industry for three decades. She has worked for Smash Hits and NME.
- Georgia Rawson, editor of Discovered Magazine. Young editor of music magazine.
- Mike White, Browse Magazine. Young editor of a free, hyperlocal independent music and culture magazine/website.
- Danielle Partis, freelance writer for TeamRock’s Metal Hammer.
- Other people involved in BBC Radio 6 Music.
- Amy Lund. Programme leader for BA (Hons) Magazine Journalism at Leeds Trinity University.
Secondary sources/reading list:
- I’m Not With the Band: A Writer’s Life Lost in Music by Sylvia Patterson
- Rock Stars Stole My Life!: A Big Bad Love Affair with Music by Mark Ellen
- Working in the Music Industry: How to Find an Exciting and Varied Career in the World of Music by Anna Britten
- Networked: A Contemporary History of News in Transition by Adrienne Russell
- Journalism: Critical Issues by Stuart Allan
- The Media of Mass Communication by John Vivian
There are a several potential outcomes from my research. It could be argued that music journalism will still be going strong across all platforms, including magazines, thanks to loyal readers. It could also be argued that while the sale of magazines is declining, there is still money from advertisers to be made with audiences looking at digital and online platforms. Or, because of the rise in bloggers and amateur writers, it could also be argued that it is difficult to find paying jobs as a professional writer for an online music website.
To ensure I keep on track I am going to create Gantt charts using Microsoft Excel. I will have one big Gantt chart that summarises when I need to have things done by which I will print off and place on my bedroom wall, as well as having an electronic version. I will also create smaller charts to break down monthly periods to go into detail about my research and how much I will need to have written by certain dates to avoid panic and putting it all off until last minute.
Now that I have narrowed down my ideas for my dissertation and come up with a title, I feel more focused on what research I need to do and I am looking forward to speaking to my primary sources.
My next few months with consist of a huge amount of research and drafts leading up to my piece of work that will be completed in February. I am confident that this will be done within the timeframe and I will keep on track with the personal deadlines and timeframes I plan to set myself. I hope to complete a dissertation that is of a high standard.