Future plc acquired NewBay Media for US$13.8 million in April 2018, and its B2B and B2C portfolio. The acquisition increased Future’s owned brands to over 100 across print, events and online. It also added a number of music titles to Future’s music portfolio including Bass Player, Electronic Musician, Guitar Player and Guitar World.
Prior to the acquisition of these properties, Future was a leading music media publisher. The company had a portfolio of titles in the UK including Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar Techniques, Bass and the large digital property MusicRadar.
“What we’ve done is extended what was a very strong UK portfolio to a global leadership position by adding the leading music making publications here in the US,” explained US chief revenue officer Luke Edson. “We are the leading publishers of music making magazines and websites in the world now, so it’s a really great position to find ourselves in.”
Guitar World recently moved onto Future’s platform and Edson expects audiences to grow from there.
Photo: LinkedIn/Luke Edson
In addition to publishing print magazines, offering and selling subscriptions at newsstands and selling advertising, Future also monetises their article pages with ecommerce. “Our current winning model performs very well in a specialist passion-based category like music,” Edson explained.
They’re also boosting events as a revenue stream across their music portfolio, starting with a big one: World Guitar Day.
World Guitar Day was created by Future to celebrate everything electric and acoustic guitar. It acknowledges the spirit of the guitar playing community around the world with events happening online and offline. In conjunction with live Guitarist of the Year finals held the same day as the UK Guitar Show in London, the date is one all of Future’s music properties and publications are building up to.
“We’re going to celebrate the guitar on a grand and global scale on September 29 on World Guitar Day,” Edson said. “We’re preparing for that day with a lot of archive and historically-important guitar editorial coverage and brand new coverage of where the instrument and music makers are going.”
“We’ll run that show, where we have a whole host of exhibitors, some of the best companies in the industry,” Edson said, adding, “We’ll crown a champion guitarist of the year, and have a VIP concert.”
“We’re hoping it will become over time, the Black Friday of guitars,” Edson said. “This is the first big event that will run across our global portfolio. After that, there will be more.”
A challenge familiar to many publishers is that of keeping niche and specialist titles fresh and engaging for their audiences. For Future’s music publications and sites, Edson explains it is a combination approach.
“The music industry is one where you both honour the past, a nod to nostalgia to all of the great musicians who have come before us,” Edson said. “And, also pushing boundaries and looking at the next generation of young guitarists and what they do with technology. A combination of the two keeps us relevant.”
The company has also expanded its editorial team, naming music journalist Damian Fanelli as the editor of Guitar World, who plans on introducing the brand’s audience to new artists who are taking guitar to innovative and new directions. Christopher Scapelliti has been named editor of Guitar Player, formerly at Guitar World and Practicing Musician. “They live the music life and they’re committed to the growth of the publications and the web properties,” Edson said.
On Future’s sites, they find that video content performs the best. This includes lessons, interviews and gear demos.
“In the music making industry, all of the manufacturers are gracious enough to send us all of their new equipment as it comes off the production line and makes it to market,” Edson said. “We have an expert reviewer – Paul Riario – who has been with Guitar World for many years and is an expert guitar player. Our users really enjoy consuming the video content of him playing these instruments, talking about their features, benefits, hearing him play. We found a lot of growth in that experience.”
Secondly, Edson explained that as marketers and advertisers move to diversify their media plans from search to social and native, they’re finding that native sponsored video is in high-demand. “We’re finding, given the nature of the publishing that we do, that video is high in consumer and advertiser demand,” Edson said.
As a company, Future believe firmly they’re part of the verticals they serve. Music is no different, as staff are musicians or music lovers, Edson said. “Second, we have expert point of view that people can rely on, third, that we know how to grow those passion-based audiences based on technology, SEO and social media marketing, so we’re always finding new and passionate audiences, and ultimately as we find those audiences, we enable a platform that enables advertisers not only to reach those consumers with highly-relevant contextually-placed messages but also straight-to-commerce opportunities.”
Future’s business model benefits from this passion-based, specialist publishing model. “It is such an exciting time for us to be able to publish such a large portfolio of music titles, to be reaching over 5 million passion-based consumers and to really be that leading publisher of music-making and listening magazines and websites,” Edson said. “To be able to do that on a global scale with this acquisition, bringing in new talent, we’re excited to keep growing in this vertical.”
Future is a member of FIPP.
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