Plan B to take on music press with WHSmith deal

Plan B, the independent music magazine, is planning to take on the mainstream music press by going monthly and taking the title into WHSmith.

The bimonthly title, which has been established for two years, is the brainchild of former Vox editor Everett True who said the move, which includes recruiting a number of new staff to the title, was an attempt to compete with the more mainstream titles.

True said that when the title advertised for two editorial positions, the magazine received more than 130 applicants who "across the board seemed extremely dissatisfied by the way music is treated in the popular music press".

"Our applicants seem to perceive a massive gap on music coverage in this country — that you've got NME and Q, which aren't really perceived as having much to do with music at all, which are just gossip magazines to shift papers and make their publishers rich. Obviously we're not as popular or as well-known as those other titles at the moment, but that's what we're aiming to be by going monthly."

Plan B is making the leap at a good time for the music press. IPC's music weekly NME saw its second consecutive sales rise since its relaunch last year, up 9.7 per cent to 76,792 in the last ABCs, while stablemate Uncut was the only magazine to lose sales, down 3.5 per cent. Publisher Emap held the top two positions in the market, with market leader Q up 5.1 per cent and heavyweight music monthly Mojo beating rival Uncut for the second consecutive period.

But it was the niche titles that gained the biggest hikes in sales figures as Emap's rock title Kerrang! sold 76,165 copies a week, up 23.2 per cent year on year, and publisher Development Hell's The Word went up 22.1 per cent to 34,753.

Plan B, with its art photography and focus on the edgier end of the independent music sector, will find its main competitor in The Word. True said the titles were similar in their emphasis on substantial content, but added: "The Word is put together by 50- and 60-yearolds for other 50- and 60-year-olds, and I don't quite see what relevance that has to do with what we've got. That's not to slag the magazine off — they do what they do and that's fine but its not the place to discover new bands, not even remotely."

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