There are some magazine categories that will probably never work as well online as they do in print: shelter and fashion books come immediately to mind. Music, on the other hand, is a topic that begs for a Web presence. Online music coverage allows for links to video and audio, letting readers see and hear the artists they are reading about. And through social media functions such as story comments and forums, it also allows readers to debate with the writer or other readers. And if there’s one thing music fans love more than music itself, it’s arguing about it.
The team at Toronto-based music mag Chart is well aware of this, which is why they’ve just unveiled a massive redesign of Chartattack.com. The improved site, launched officially last week but online in beta mode for several weeks prior, now includes a host of social media functions, as well as podcasts, blogs, contests and, on the ad side, the ability for sponsors to tailor ads to a particular geographic market and alter and place banners and buttons any time.
Site users who register (name and e-mail address required) can post photos, comment on news, reviews, features and blogs and chat with each other in the community forums. Media such as audio streaming and original video (through embedded YouTube clips) are also a part of the new editorial package. Advertisers, meanwhile, get access to a custom-made ad management system.
Chart partnered with Fourthwall Media for the relaunch. The site was built using the Drupal 5x content management system.
The Internet has hit the music magazine business hard on the print side. Three American music titles—No Depression, Resonance and Harp—have folded this year. According to the Publishers Information Bureau, first half ad pages were down 24.7% at Rolling Stone, -23.5% at Blender and -18.3% at Vibe.
“I think what you’re seeing is a symptom of the media industry as a whole,” says Ian Danzig, publisher of the monthly Exclaim! magazine. “But I would say the music industry is a bit of a canary in the coal mine. Digital technology savaged the music industry well before it savaged the media outlets.”
The Exclaim website was relaunched early in 2007, adding video and audio content, and online-exclusive music news and reviews.
Danzig says online traffic and ad revenue growth has been “tremendous” over the last two years, “but there’s room for more.” The print publication is profitable, but Danzig sees it as just one third of a multi-platform approach to publishing, which for Exclaim, also includes cross-Canada concert tours.
“We’re looking at our print publication as a piece of the puzzle,” he says. “But the more profitable thing is Exclaim as a whole. You need to be flexible and you need to evolve. The way things are looking right now, you need to be constantly evolving.”