Magazines and Music: They both start with M, but that’s where the similarities end

June 20, 2007

My friend Bob Sacks wrote an article entitled “Printed Magazines Will Follow the Path of the Plastic Record,” which you can read here. Well, needless to say I do not agree with Bob on this issue. Here is my take on music records and magazines.
Unlike music CDs, mp3s, vinyl, or tapes magazines are disposable items. Magazines are not meant to be kept, collected or read and reread over and over the same way you listen to a song or enjoy an album.
(Well, ok I know I am an exception to the rule. I keep every magazine and my collection is now up to almost 23,000 first editions. I also know that some of those magazines will have a big monetary value, but that is not the reason they were published. Hugh Hefner never put in his business plan that the first issue of Playboy will sell for thousands of dollars in the future).
The beauty of magazines is that you read them, you toss them, you recycle them, you share them and a new one will appear on the stands or in your mailbox the next day, week, month, quarter, etc…magazines are not meant to be collected, they are meant to be used and abused. Every issue is different yet the same. You see Cosmo this month you know it is Cosmo…music albums, even those of the same band, do not carry the same design, the same feel or even the same look. Once an album is born fans listen to it, keep it, download it, re-listen to it, etc., you get my drift…no relationship to the next one. You do not listen to an album in a sequence and you do not dispose of it when it is over. It has a repeat value, a very high repeat value that is exactly the opposite of magazines. The only repeat value magazines have is in their changing content. Music does not have a concept that needs to be implemented and repeated one album after the other…magazines do.
Music is universal. You do not translate the Beatles music to your own language. In Lebanon as in the UK and the USA you listen to the same music. You do not translate…music can show that the world is flat, that is not something new (I grew up in Lebanon in the 60s listening to the same music teens were listening to in the UK and the USA). Magazines are just the opposite…In Finland the magazines mainly are in Finish, in Lebanon in Arabic, in the States in English…and guess what? Each has its own personality and its own reflection of the society that surrounds it. So fear not, the future of magazines is not going to be for the few collectable copies like vinyl…that is not the reason people buy magazines for…People will continue to look for a warehouse of information in which once they consume the goods in it, they look for more goods. Magazines are like a box of chocolate, once you consume the chocolate you do not refill the box, you buy another one. So the next time someone tells you the future of magazines are like the future of vinyl, just tell them how many people they know read the same magazine over and over the same way they listen to their music



  1. “The beauty of magazines is that you read them, you toss them, you recycle them, you share them and a new one will appear on the stands or in your mailbox the next day, week, month, quarter, etc…magazines are not meant to be collected, they are meant to be used and abused.”

    This is exactly why magazines are going to trend away from ink on paper… if expedience is a primary factor in the adoption of a format nothing can match bits and bytes. Print will survive, but not on anywhere near the scale it lives today… Bo’s vinyl comparison is right on.

  2. […] More… […]

  3. […] Mr Magazine has gone head-to-head with Bob Sacks regarding the future of printed magazines. Looking on the faith of the plastic record, they come to completely different conclusions. […]

  4. 14 Barnes Avenue
    WA2 0BN

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    Ref :http://singingstrongforsongstermonsters.wordpress.com/2008/03/27/particular-petticoat/

    I am writing to inquire about receiving help publishing from your organisation – the world has yet to hear of my lyrical and poetical talent ! Knowing of your expertise and excellent reputation in this field, I wondered if, perhaps, you would able to assist in my endeavours – I hope to advertise on the www. with a view to selling my work. If not too inconvenient could you please advise me on the following :

    1. Copyright – how do I stop people plagurising my ideas without pay yet advertise suitably enough for musicians to want to buy my poetry as song lyrics ?
    2. Access – how do I reach as many people as possible, in the right fields ?
    3. Marketing – how do I best market these song lyrics / poems at least cost ? appropriately ?
    4. Purchasing cost – do I charge

    a) per song ? per word or per page ? When you “sell” a song – do you have any creative rights over it whatsoever, or is it now solely then the property of the purchaser ?
    b) for log on and access to the web site (which presumably will cut down the number of visitations and potential customers ?).

    5. Musicians – what do they usually do – design the music or the lyrics for each song primarily ? do they commission or get offered work ? is most contacts made by word of mouth and recommendation. How do I best promote my work to songwriters/musicians ? Do you perhaps have any contact details that may help ?

    I would be pleased for you to peruse some of my work and make editorial comment on their suitability, if not too inconvenient, advising me on how to best proceed with this artistic and entrepreneurial project. Do you perhaps know anyone who could help ?

    Perhaps you may consider adding a link to your web page ?

    Also – My Kids’ work is available for viewing at http://www.kidsstories.wordpress.com – have you ever considered adding a kids’ section to your web page ?

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Yours faithfully,

    Jacqueline Richards.
    First Lady

  5. With reference to the above comment from Jacqueline Richards, I can give some advice. Before offering lyrics/poems for public consumption, let alone for sale, she first needs to learn to puctuate (there should not be spaces before and after punctuation marks) and spell correctly. There is little risk of her work being ‘plagurised’ and much less of it being plagiarised. I suggest this ‘First Lady’ needs remedial basic skills training before having such delusions of grandeur.

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