Your chance to learn from music industry experts
Future developments, challenges and the potential of classical music are the themes of Classical NEXT "the new professionals forum for classical and art music" that is being held in Munich starting on May 31. The keynote speech is being given by James Jolly of the Gramophone magazine, seen above right with Riccardo Chailly, and there are contributions from many other music industry experts. The Classical NEXT website declares that the "future of music is at stake and music professionals must orient themselves towards it", so here are some facts to help the orientation process.
The Gramophone has played an important role in the development of classical music since its launch in 1923 and has been described as "the world’s most respected classical record magazine". In the late 1970s the Gramophone's circulation peaked at 75,000 before slipping back to 60,000 at the end of the 1990s. At which point it was purchased by Haymarket Consumer Media, whose other titles include Practical Caravan. Since its acquisition by Haymarket in 1999 the circulation of the Gramophone has plummeted to 26,291 and is now dropping 13.8% year on year.
Digital marketing is another theme at Classical NEXT and James Jolly contributes a monthly column on downloading and new technologies to the Gramophone. Latest data shows that the monthly circulation of the online digital Gramophone is 525; for those who suspect a typing error I repeat, five hundred and twenty five. This is one of the lowest digital circulations in its industry category and is less than Yachting Monthly's. Almost all magazines are losing hard copy circulation but, unlike comparable publications, the Gramophone has not replaced print with online readership at any significant rate since its January 2011 digital launch. And incidentally, that circulation of 525 also compares very unfavourably with the independently measured readership of On An Overgrown Path and other music blogs.
All this has happened on James Jolly's watch: he was editor of Gramophone from 1989 to 2005 and since then has been editor-in-chief. James is certainly very knowledgeable about classical music; but if he is using his role at the Gramophone to deliver industry key note speeches he must also take some responsibility for a brand repositioning that has triggered an audience loss large enough to put most arts organisations out of business, or at least cost the chief executive their job, and has also failed to realise the potential of new technologies.
As well as his role at Haymarket, James Jolly has presented programmes for BBC Radio 3, a media channel that fits the same template of simultaneously chasing the mass market and losing audience. Classic FM is the role model for much of the current thinking at Radio 3 and elsewhere. Among Haymarket Consumer Media's other titles is Classic FM magazine which it acquired in 2001. The circulation of Classic FM has fallen from a peak of 55,000 to 30,000 and earlier this year it was announced the title would cease publication in April.
Most of classical music's great and good have already registered for Classical NEXT. So let's hope retrogressive attitudes within classical music will be one of the challenges discussed in James Jolly's keynote speech.
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I had thought very hard about renewing this year given the quality of reviews (low) and the fact that I really don't buy many CDs anymore because my collection is very large. How did Gramophone handle this?
I received three letters encouraging me to renew (not emails, snail-mail) which took weeks to arrive in Australia. I got totally frustrated trying to renew on line through the Haymarket website and had to RING the UK from here to sort it out. After such dedication, a couple of days ago I received two more letters. One told me to renew because my subscription had expired; the other thanked me for renewing. I would have thought a couple of emails and a better on-line facility would have sorted things out rather faster. So much for their engagement with the digital age.
And also so much for their engagement with subscribers because not surprisingly I have received no acknowledgement of an email I sent suggesting that there might be better ways to handle the situation!
Maybe, given your readership numbers, the editor might be reading this, in which case I will take the liberty to say he would be better off responding directly to reader emails.