Monday, January 19, 2009

Music Press: The Melody Maker (1926-2000)



The Melody Maker was always considered the serious music paper in the UK and catered for "minority" interests like folk and jazz as well as regularly including detailed reviews of musical instruments. The publication was aimed at musicians and was often used as a credible source of advertisements for professional musicians. The Melody Maker appealed more to older adults than its rival the New Musical Express which it predated by three decades. It was established in 1926 as a musician’s paper and followed dance bands, swing and jazz music trends. In the fifites the editorial direction failed to recognise the importance of rock’n’roll dismissing it as a passing phase. In 1958 the Melody Maker published LP charts which were a breakthrough but as the overall majority of record buying public at that time were buying 45 singles, the paper held little appeal other than for the true enthusiast. By the late 60s pop music was less bubblegum and more serious, the Melody Maker employed journalists to write intellectually about the music of Steely Dan, Cat Stevens, and Led Zeppelin. The circulation increased to over 250,000 copies a week. The paper embraced progressive rock and glam rock but by the mid seventies was stuck in a journalistic rut. Richard Williams returned as editor and tried appeal to followers of post-punk and New Wave, with more column space to reggae and soul music. However continued embittered strife within the establishment caused the paper to lose direction and fail to follow popular tastes. By the early 80s the Melody Maker tried to appeal to the younger reader and as the decade passed new journalists forged new changes in the now magazine format. By the 90s the Melody Maker was devoting most space to rock and indie music but it also covered dance music, hip hop, post rock and electronica. In 2000 it was merged into New Musical Express.

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