Has the (magazine) world finally lost the plot?

As anyone who appreciates Nathan Barley will already know, the world of glossy monthlies, cooler than thou music titles and tight-jean targeting arts publishing is, for want of a better word, odd. In contrast to their daily print media counterparts, it’s about niche markets, creative direction and setting trends.
Or so they were convinced. These days there are plenty of competitors to their style thrones. The vanguards of cool like Dazed, Another, Wire, File, Wallpaper*, Monacle, Vice and co might be safe for now- their circulation rates and ad sales are holding firm. But the fate of other outlets is much shakier.
Remember how much bile was spat in the face of online media before the millennium hit. You have to wonder how NME now feels about nu-school sites like Drowned in Sound and This Is Fake DIY. In music PR online targeting has become second only to national print in terms of importance. So, who’s setting the tone now?
Arguably the old dons got too complacent. Self assured in the fact that content would come to them, they took their eye of the ball and suddenly the game moved on. “Don’t be too harsh???, you might retort. But one look at CMU Daily shows that the arrogance prevails, even as their magazines fail.
Stuart Williams, executive director of Bauer Media, blames the music industry for the publisher’s poor circulation figures as Kerrang! and Q both plummeted in terms of readership. An excuse that would be easy to label ‘a little rich’.
“It’s been a really quiet year for music releases… …Readers want to find out about new and exciting bands and if there aren’t any out there for us to cover then we can’t blame readers for not wanting to spend money on our titles,??? he told CMU.
Sorry? The notion that music journalists can have such little passion for their profession is, frankly, offensive. Is it not their remit to break new acts, discover untold gems and introduce artists to wider audiences? Most would certainly think so.
But the real heartache comes from knowing, like many other Brits out there, that 2010 has been far from a quiet scene in music. To pull names out of the air, Tame Impala, Mitchell Museum and Broken Bells all released staggering albums that would fit Q’s readership perfectly. That’s before you even consider the Manchester resurgence spearheaded by Young British Artists, Airship and Stealing Sheep.
Similarly, our friends over at SPHERE Magazine haven’t struggled with content concerning goth, alternative and emo culture. The main difference being that the people at the York based title aren’t funded as well as their established counterparts, but far from causing them to miss out, it seems this constant budgetary worry only makes them work harder.
The magazines in question need to grow up, shut up and stop passing the buck. Don’t blame your industry or target market for a lack of content; blame a lack of creativity, risk taking and forward thought. You’re the best end of the printed word, with an ability to add focus, context and extensive research to any subject.
So please don’t betray your public by pretending you’ve nothing to write about, one search on the internet proves you’re not looking hard enough. Once you start finding those trends rather than following them you might be taken a little more seriously.