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Introduction to Contemporary Music Press

Bijon Fenner | Thursday July 16, 2009

Categories: Music, Other Topics, Music Press

Music magazines of the Noughties - The Wire, Smash Hits, Terrorizer, NME, Q and Muzik –Smash Hits and Muzik have since closed

Music Magazines in the Noughties


Useful Terminology

Plugs: Information about the contents of a magazine given on the front cover.
Issue Number: The number of the issue
Masthead: Title of the magazine.
Cover price: retail cost.
Puffs: words or phrases on the cover of the magazine used to boost its status.
Typeface (Typography): font used to print texts.
Point sizes: Font size
Bar code: Black and white serial number.
Main cover line: accompanies main cover shot.
Strapline: Gives more information about the main headline.
Feature article photograph: image relating to feature article.


This unit looks at the messages and values encoded in the British music press in the 21st century. It takes the form of detailed textual analysis of Smash Hits, Wire, Terrorizer, Q and Muzik. However, the main focus of the piece is an exploration of the way in which the proliferation of the digital media has manifest itself in a music scene that is increasingly fragmented. This represents a considerable shift since the 1980s, when magazines like Smash Hits regularly sold in excess of half a million copies an issue and indeed the magazine closed in 2006, with sales having shrunk to less than 100,000.

From a theoretical perspective this unit takes as its jumping off point the essay by David Reisman entitled ‘Listening to Popular Music’ (1950) in which he identifies two categories of listeners: majority and minority.  According to Reisman majority listeners consume mainstream music and pop culture as a product and source of lighthearted fun while the minority listeners develops ‘over elaborate standards of music listening’ (Reisman, 1950, 4-5). This model can be related directly to a...

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