Hard News by Russell Brown


Killing Volume

It's rare for a new print magazine to make itself as much part of the scene as APN's music mag Volume has done since last September. And rarer yet for a magazine to be yanked after six months in which it could hardly have done better.

Indeed, it appears that the failure doesn't lie with either the editorial content or sales performance of the print mag. Editor Sam Wicks had good fix on what was required of a newsprint street mag and quickly earned the goodwill of the sector the magazine serves. It has seemed to be getting the type and level of advertising that could reasonably be expected.

Sam says the key factor has been Volume's failure to perform online. Well, yes: chalk another one up to APN Digital, which doesn't appear to know what to do with any online brand that isn't the New Zealand Herald.

There is, every week a web-readable version of Volume available from APN -- but good luck finding it (seriously, I can't, but I'm in a hurry). There's this rather odd page on the Herald site, but the nearest thing to an actual website has been Volume's lively, well-stocked Facebook profile. When the best way into your content -- and your top Google result -- is a Facebook page, you're basically failing at web publishing.

If Volume had actually been allowed to develop an online brand it might have been different. More particularly, if the hallowed space of the Herald home page had regularly contained links to the magazine's editorial content, it would surely have been different. The same might be said of The Listener and the Woman's Weekly. The Herald's huge reach could have been driving traffic to those sites for years -- but it hasn't.

It appears that Sam, who is bright, creative and organised, will find work within the Herald's growing online Entertainment division, and will take some of Volume's regular features with him, but there seems to be something particularly inept about what has played out here. Having taken an interesting punt on a street press music mag, APN launched its new magazine without an online strategy -- and then killed it because it wasn't working online.

Other publications inside the tent at APN will be hoping a lesson has been learned here -- but I rather fear it has not.

PS: So as not to end on a sad note, let it be known that the thirty-third and final issue of Volume, out tomorrow, has been edited by means of a takeover by the Home Brew crew. What a great idea. Here's the video ...

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