One of the services many consultants provide for magazine publishers is a cover analysis. Over the years, I’ve developed a template that can dive deeply into the single copy sales of a title. Consequently I feel pretty qualified to weigh in on how a cover looks and how it may sell. However, if you really want some input on cover and magazine design turn to Robert Newman. Mr. Newman is the former design director of Real Simple and served as the creative director of such iconic magazines as Entertainment Weekly, Details and Vibe.
Earlier this week he published an article on Adweek titled “101 Kick Ass Music Covers. The most awesome, iconic and controversial magazine images of the last 80 years.”
Newman explained it this way:
“…they also have chronicled the changes in the culture and the sounds of the times—consider Bob Dylan’s various transformations across 24(!) Rolling Stone covers. Not only have covers become part of music history and culture at large, but they also remain a potent tool for marketing artists.”
He’s right and he pointed out that fans will obsess over the images and artists on the covers. I certainly did both as a youth and today as an adult. The 101 selections are deep and cover the broad spectrum of magazines from such classic music titles as Down Beat to the cultural icon Rolling Stone to the very controversial Kayne West/Kim Kardashian cover on Vogue last month. They are all valid choices presented in a way that will make you say out loud “Yes! I loved that!” Or perhaps “What? Why that?”
But I confess, there were a few issues and covers that I remember seeing or collecting over the years that I thought should be included.
For example, one of my favorite premiere issues is the first release of Spin Magazine featuring Madonna. It was a great kick off to an interesting title that had a good run. I was a little surprised that it wasn’t included in Newman’s collection. You may recall that I used to work for the former Capital Distributing Company, the sister national distributor to copy cat publisher Charlton Publications. I would have included Hit Parader covers from the titles ’80’s and ‘90’s rennaissance weren’t included.
Time Magazine‘s Bruce Springsteen cover was included. What about Newsweek’s? What about Eddie Van Halen’s Guitar World cover. I can think of a bunch of people wondering where that was.
I submit this for your consideration and not as a counterpoint to Robert Newman’s list. Here are some additional music covers to think about and maybe smile over. Because this is a blog about the newsstand, celebrate the sales history of.
I love how the “cool” logo of Rock and Soul now seems so “retro”.
There’s a reason these are all strictly music titles. Consider this: Music titles that report to the AAM (Alliance for Audited Media, formerly the ABC) have declined significantly. For the last reporting period (Second half 2013), the AAM “Snapshot” showed only 6 titles reporting as compared to the second half of 2008 when 10 titles reported.
Even more ominously, unit sales were down 79% and on the retail dollars side of the ledger, sales were down -$16,180,626. That got your attention, huh?
Do music magazines still have viability on the newsstand and in print. Well, far more titles don’t report to AAM than do. And, as Newman’s list showed, there are a lot of great music oriented covers and articles out there in magazines that are not totally devoted to the music industry.
If you have any covers you want included in this list, please send them along.