Expert eye: The new-look Music Week

The redesign of Music Week, which has a circulation hovering around the 8,000 mark, has been achieved with the help of design company This is Real Art. As is the modern custom, it is heavily linked to changes and new features in its website, musicweek.com.

The new logo is based on a fast forward button, the new masthead is clear and simple and it has lots of lovely white space. But don’t judge the redesigned Music Week by its minimalist cover, which weakens its initial impact. It’s certainly subtle, and the cover lines do tell you what the main features are. It also echoes the recent industry news that Hard-Fi are doing away with cover art on their new album.

Inside, the opening spread begins to reveal the real radical nature of the new look. The staff list and publishing paraphernalia have been moved to free up space – and there’s plenty of it around the outside and across the bottom.

The new headline (Akkurat) and body (Typ1451) typefaces come in to play here, with no sign of any serifs. The colour palette begins to identify itself with subtle blues chosen for the news section, which extends to page 11.

The magazine is essential reading for those in the music industry and, as such, has a lot of ground to cover. The design really works in its flexibility to allow longer articles to co-exist in harmony with several smaller newsbites. This is achieved by taking the radical step of basing the layout on a seven-column grid, allowing small columns to flow down the outer wings or even the middle to break up the heavier page leads.

The magazine aims to focus on several new editorial aims: to spotlight creativity and innovation among the broader music business; to focus on the individuals driving these changes; to build audience interaction, with more opinion and views from across the industry; to offer deeper analysis – the inside take on the changes within the business; and to continue supporting the development of British talent, at home and abroad.

The latter is interesting, as it implies that the magazine is not just reporting industry news and views, but also fulfilling a talent-spotting and promotional role.

Fast forward to features and the colour palette changes to a pastel pinky-purple and the narrow columns move off the wing to take up a more midfield role. Perhaps here the new sans type appears too thin and light to make for easy reading.

The middle of this week’s magazine is a tribute to the much-lamented Mancunian band Joy Division. It’s a bold design, with colour photos giving way to moody chiaroscuro; with pink and white type on a dark grey background. It’s daring and hard to read – but worth it for the content.

The pink turns to brown for a two-page classified section, then it’s straight into 10 green-themed Datafile pages. This section is challenging, providing a new feature on upcoming record releases and, natch, page after page of all-important ratings charts with sales and airplays.

It’s always been a daunting task for editors and designers to come up with an attractive and readable way of presenting vast chunks of statistical information. It so nearly works here, but is let down by too many changes in point size and a plethora of colours.

Overall, a radical, modern new look for a business magazine which treats its audience with respect.

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