Perception vs. Reality: In a Tennessean story about why the readership of the bi-weekly magazine with the misnomer, Country Weekly, has fallen to 450,000 from 700,000, comes the following stellar reporting:
“Several factors appear to be changing the business environment to support a mass-audience print publication for country music fans. For starters, there’s the Internet. Chet Flippo, a longtime music journalist and the editorial director of CMT and CMT.com, said he’s seen traffic at the network’s Web site increase from about 150,000 hits per day several years ago to an average of about 2 million per day recently.
“And when there’s something like CMA happening, then you’re talking 10 million hits a day,” Flippo said, adding that a full 60 percent of those page views come from pictures alone. I don’t think country music fans these days are looking for something like Country Weekly that’s feature driven and comes out once every two weeks,” he said. “Everything’s old by the time they get it.”
I hate to burst Chet Flippo’s bubble with a fisk point to Alexa.com’s data regarding CMT.com. I don’t question that CMT.com has “2 million” somethings a day, but the trend chart doesn’t reveal CMT.com being the breakaway, magazine-crushing factor that’s changing the business environment to support a mass-audience print publication.
For the record, as a whole (and as a sign of the coming apocalypse) the celebrity magazine category has been one of the most robust segments of the magazine industry for several years. “Comfort food,” my friend Samir Husni calls it. Indeed the success of the category has been followed by a proliferation in new title launches in the category (bubble?). While individual titles in the category have come and gone (killer competition does that), I think one would be hard-pressed to prove with statistics that the Internet is the reason that a specific magazine title has lost readership during an era when easily-available data shows that the category in which the magazine competes has grown during the same era.
As I’ve repeatedly said here on the rexblog, I am not a fan of the celebrity magazine genre — nor, for that matter, am I fan of the pop-suburban crap with the misnomer, country music. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Nashville music — just not the kind you’d read about in Country Weekly or hear on country music radio.) Perhaps the reason the magazine has lost circulation is quite simple. My theory without ever reading a copy is this: It probably sucks.