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History of The Music Press. 1950s – 1960s. Melody Maker / New Musical Express – 1950s / 60s largely uncritical of musicians’ output – everything was always good!

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1950s – 1960s

Melody Maker / New Musical Express –

1950s / 60s

largely uncritical of musicians’ output – everything was always good!

Content: mainly charts and singles, gig listings.Changes in society in the 1960s with the arrival of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, drug culture of the 1960s – changed the nature of music and music writing.


The New Musical Express was first published in 1952

Melody Maker was first published in 1926 – ‘The Musician’s Paper’


Rolling Stone was created by Jann Wenner in the 1960s, a fortnightly publication which contained a mixture of current affairs, celebrity interviews and coverage of the music industry its appeal lay in the way the journalists addressed the youth audience.



Early 1970s – first of all: “Glam Rock” – Sweet, Mud, Slade, T Rex


1970s continued

and then “Prog. Rock” –Pink Floyd, Emmerson Lake Palmer and Yes.

Music papers still largely uncritical of groups until the Prog Rock bands begin to spend too much money on staging, lighting and lasers, etc.


The NME changed its style to meet Punk head on.

New writers were recruited from the magazine’s own readership, with ads like ‘wanted: hip young gun slingers’. Julie Burchill became a top NME reporter overnight.


Melody Maker – The Police and Duran Duran were said to have met through the classified ads of the Melody Maker.


Mid 1970s

Mid 1970s – NME embraces punk – writers begin to move the paper away from simply music writing and start writing about “serious” issues such as politics, philosophy, etc. The “Music Press” becomes divided between Musicians’ papers such as Melody Maker (techniques, “proper music”) and Political papers such as NME (the meaning behind the bands and their songs).


Late 1970s – Early 80s

Readers are abandoning NME because it no longer writes about “normal” bands and is too obsessed with itself and its politics.



Smash Hits launched a new glossy mag catering for a younger audience in a smaller magazine format. Its focus was on “trivia” – favourite colours, food, pop-musicians’ lifestyles, etc.

It included – polls, letters, surveys, fan club information – keeps in touch with readership – what do they want? Lyrics, posters, free gifts on the covers...


Late 1970s – Early 80s

Style in pop music becomes more important than content:

make-up, clothes, the video, fashion and hair.



Independent music labels wanted their own voice and began producing fanzines. These fanzines were often typed, photocopied and distributed at concerts or by subscription.

Despite the handmade appearance this encouraged a whole new generation of writers, photographers and cartoonists to contribute.



New layout of magazines – “style” magazines such as The Face and Blitz became popular, not just music but information about the latest fashions and hairstyles.

– experimentation with typefaces, layout, graphic design – making the music press new and more exciting with breaking the rules.



New technologies began to emerge. Music videos became popular which began to change many aspects of the ways in which music is consumed.

Every single comes with a video, sometimes more money is spent on the video than the single.

Launch of MTV the first TV market for music videos – a little known band could make lots of money and impact with a well made video.



Today – is there a limited “music press” because “everything is pop culture”?

Daily newspapers feature pop stars and “celebrities” appear on daytime TV.

People are famous for being famous. Everyone in a band or with some talent assumes that they have a right to be rich and famous.