TeamRock, which publishes Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog, has this month introduced paid-for content to its website.
Readers can still access music news on the site, www.teamrock.com, but can also pay to access content from the printed magazines and "hand-picked archive content spanning 30 years".
For £3.99 a month, TeamRock+ members get full access to the latest magazine content. A £4.99 subscription also means access to one of the iPhone or iPad versions of the magazines. And the third option, costing £6.99 or £7.99, inlcudes a print edition each month on top of web access.
Editorial director Scott Rowley describes the system as "not a simple paywall", explaining: "We have three levels of membership: free (which gives you access to news only), registered (which is also free and gives you access to our daily online features) and TeamRock+ members (who get access to everything, including stories from our three print titles reformatted and optimised with bonus content, updated daily)."
He adds: "Our brands have built enormous fan bases across the world – Metal Hammer has 1,247,000 followers on Facebook; Classic Rock will have a million by Christmas (971k right now) –people who, until now, couldn't find our magazines. Now, wherever they are, whatever device or operating system they have, they can read the latest issue of Classic Rock, Metal Hammer or Prog magazine, all for one price."
Here, Rowley answers Press Gazette's questions about the paywall project:
How many subscribers do you hope to get?
Large declines in circulation have been seen across the music magazine industry in recent years. What kind of a future do your print products have?
I might just be being insanely optimistic, but I think our print brands could sell more in the medium to short term as a result of all the noise TeamRock is making and all the people we’re reaching out to on a daily basis.
Beyond that, I think the print products will have to become better. Firstly because print is the starting point for the stories (features are commissioned by the mag editors and worked up for print first before being transferred onto the other platforms), so we’re taking the values of print – the access and insight that comes with great writing – and combining it with the interactivity and immediacy of online.
Secondly, in print publishing we do a lot of talking about magazines being a luxury product, with great design and packaging, glossy pictures and so on. But not all print products are truly deluxe – I think there will be more onus on us to make them objects of desire. Magazines that people love to hold and collect. I think a lot of small publishing houses understand that but it’s been lost at a mass market level.
Why do you think magazines like NME, Kerrang and the Word have struggled in print so much in recent years? (Since the second half of 2006, NME's circulation has dropped from 73k to 16k, Kerrang's from 85k to 33k and Word, which had a circulation of 34k, has folded).
I think music magazines have struggled because music fans no longer need us to tell them who the hottest new bands are. YouTube, Spotify, Facebook and music websites (including our own) have taken on that role.
I was on Steve Lamacq’s Roundtable on BBC6 Music recently: he plays new singles and the panel judge them. One of the songs he played had already had 30 million views on YouTube. There’s no point in reviewing or even judging that song – the best you can do is be entertaining and insightful.
That’s sort of where music magazines are at. There’s loads of great new music but there’s a real lack of fascinating characters and great stories. There’s a role for us but it’s about taking people behind the scenes and telling stories. Social media and online are perfect for showcasing music and generating debate – magazines have got to complement that and offer something of substance.
Classic Rock and Metal Hammer appear to have suffered far less in terms of print circulation (2006 circulations respectively: 63k and 49k. Now: 57k and 28k). Why do you think this is?
We have a unique readership. Rock and metal fans are committed, dedicated music snobs whose music has been ignored and disparaged by the mainstream.
If you like pop music you can read about it everywhere on a daily basis – from the Metro to The Guardian – but if you want to read stories that treat rock or metal bands with respect, that’s exactly what we do.
If Team Rock was a band, what band would it be and why?
AC/DC. Massive, mental and part Scottish. As long as I don’t have to dress up as a schoolboy!