Q scraps freebies with 'luxurious' birthday redesign

Q is dropping its CD covermounts and making itself a more "luxurious" monthly read as it redesigns following its 20th anniversary.

The Emap music monthly, which has just published its 20th birthday edition with 20 different exclusive covers of music artists and bands, will stop covermounting and introduce the redesign from the November issue, which editor Paul Rees said signalled the end of an era for the magazine.

Rees said media coverage of music had changed dramatically in the last 20 years and that with accessibility to music from downloading and music news being available in every media outlet, the dynamics of the monthly title had to change.

He said: "That changes the game of what you have to do as a music magazine — if everything is everywhere."

Q will now focus on usefulness, entertainment and quality, Rees said.

"Monthly magazines have tried to be weeklies and distilled all the editorial down and forgotten that the reason people buy monthlies is to luxuriate in them. That's what you need to do — make it luxurious."

He added: "You have to not be instant. Trying to dive in there straight away with a band like the Arctic Monkeys — you can't stand out by trying to capitalise on that. You have to do things in a more considered way."

The redesigned issue, out on 1 November, and overseen by Rees and Q art director Mark Taylor, will see the title revert to a "less garish" colour palette and the tone will also be "calmed down", according to the editor.

Features and photography will be given more space, made more "extensive and iconic" and the reviews section will cover only music, rather than films, TV and broader pop culture.

The market-leading title is abandoning covermounted CDs after its last ABCs figure saw a fall of 1.3 per cent year on year to 158,271 sales per month.

Rees said the tactic only succeeded in adding readers for the issues the magazine covermounted and created an "illusionary ABCs figure" where people bought the magazine only for the CD and then abandoned the title when it did not covermount.

Rees said what mattered was that Q's base sales had stayed solid and its market share continued to grow.

He said: "The simple thing is take the CDs off. We accept that you can't do no CDs and not have a knock on effect year on year with our next ABC, but we believe we'll still be the market leader by a distance and we will grow market share."

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