How TeamRock titles are bucking the trend

There’s no denying that TeamRock has invested vast amounts of energy, and money, into its digital offering in recent years. Their aim is clear: to be the global home of rock and metal through an integrated network of websites, a family of magazines, a gaming division and a radio station available online and via the TeamRock app.

Is it surprising then that two of its flagship print magazine brands, Classic Rock and Metal Hammer, defied broader print market trends between January and December last year enjoying strong sales? Not really, says TeamRock circulation manager Will Woodrow. Their success in print can be attributed to the way they integrated their print strategy with their digital strategy, invested in unique content and took control of global opportunities through global expansion.
Classic Rock ()

Positive figures

First the figures: Classic Rock magazine, first published in 1998, recorded year-on-year growth of 0.3 per cent with a total print ABC figure of 51,219. While heavy metal music magazine, Metal Hammer’s print circulation for 2015 was 9.5 per cent down compared to the preceding year, it did, however, show a 15 per cent improvement on initial decline seen during 2013. First published in 1983, Woodrow feels this is an impressive comeback for Metal Hammer with an ABC print figure of 20,961.

Woodrow says global expansion opportunities continue to crop up, witnessed with growth in the US and Canada, as well as promising movements in Scandinavia and Australia. This year TeamRock plans further expansion into other markets including Japan where they will be hosting the 2016 Classic Rock awards.

Team Rock Awards ()

Integrated digital and print strategy

According to Woodrow there is an acute realisation that long term growth is ultimately vested in their digital strategy, but at the same time readers continue to come back to their print magazines when they integrate their digital and print strategy to offer unique quality print copy, good design and photography. This ensures that their printed products are not only collectable items but also cleverly marketed.

One recent example is Classic Rock’s special Iron Maiden edition which was published with 18 different covers to emulate all 18 of Iron Maiden’s album covers. The spine designs of the 18 magazines were designed in such a way that if stack all 18 magazines together on a shelf, it created an image of the Iron Maiden mascot: Eddie the Head.
Metal Hammer ()

While readers had the option to go online and pick which one of the 18 magazines  they wanted to purchase, TeamRock found that a significant amount of diehard Iron Maiden fans chose to purchase all 18. Woodrow says growth is also vested in their continued search to expand their artist pool and covering in-depth stories first. He references TeamRock’s work in recognising, featuring and staying on top of the growth in popularity of Japanese metal idol band, Babymetal since they released their debut album in 2014, contributing in no small part to TeamRock’s digital and print growth.

Dedicated audiences

Due to the niche value of their content, they continue to rediscover that great rock stories will always find a dedicated audience and if the product is good, it will garner support, says Woodrow. This is why breaking news, in-depth reviews, exclusive interviews, radio and videos from the world of hard rock, alternative rock, metal and punk are integrated in their strategy to serve each platform best.

Woodrow echoes the sentiment of his chief executive Billy Anderson who says the latest results are  encouraging taking into account the very tough market conditions out there. “Print is just one component of our audience, which is growing exponentially through our membership, digital, social and audio channels”.

The next step would be to integrate the print and digital strategy with even larger international expansion via key content partnerships with global players such as Spotify.

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