No need to fret: Metal Hammer magazine saved from closure

Future Publishing buys TeamRock’s classic magazines, websites and events including 30-year-old Metal Hammer for £800,000

Thirty-year-old Metal Hammer magazine and stablemates Classic Rock and Prog have been given a new lease of life after being saved from closure by Future Publishing, owner of titles including Guitarist, Total Film and T3.

The titles, along with the Golden Gods Awards and the Classic Rock Awards, suspended publication and faced closure after owner TeamRock, which fashioned itself as the self-styled “home of rock and metal”, went into administration in December.

The news, which put more than 70 staff out of work with no severance pay just days before Christmas, prompted British band Orange Goblin to launch a fundraising drive on Just Giving that made more than £70,000 for staff.

The band also held a fundraising gig at the Black Heart in Camden, London, on 5 January.

Now Future Publishing, the publicly listed digital, events and magazine company, has struck a bargain basement deal to buy the magazines, events and licence for the Team Rock digital radio service for £800,000.

It was Future, which owns titles including Total Guitarist, Guitarist and Rhythm magazines and online site musicradar, that sold the titles to TeamRock for £10.2m in 2013.

“The acquisition of these classic rock brands with their associated magazines, events and websites marks a further step in our buy and build strategy,” said Zillah Byng-Thorne, chief executive of Future.

“It further reinforces our creation of a leading global specialist media platform with data at its heart, which we are monetising through diversified revenue streams. We look forward to developing further these iconic and much-loved brands and to continuing to serve their communities of dedicated enthusiasts around the world.”

Metal Hammer magazine, which uses the strapline “Defending the Faith”, launched in 1986 and sold about 20,000 copies a month according to the last officially audited figures in 2015.

Classic Rock, launched in 1998, sold an average of 51,000 copies per issue in 2015 and Prog, launched in 2009 to champion progressive rock music, has not had an audited sales figure released in years.

In May, Future acquired Blaze, the parent company of events including the London Drum Show and the London Bass Guitar Show, as well as magazine including Acoustic, Bass Drummer and iDrum.

Only a handful of staff have been guaranteed jobs in the transition of the TeamRock business, handled by administrators FRP Advisory, although ongoing negotiations could allow more move to Future.

The call to help the affected staff attracted support from rock fans from all over the world, with donations from musicians such as Avenged Sevenfold, Black Stone Cherry, Asking Alexandra and Tesseract, while musician Frank Turner set up an auction to raise money for affected staff.

In recent years, Future shed almost 500 staff to reverse losses running to £35m and implement a new strategy focussed on its biggest magazine brands, digital and events.

In June, Future acquired Imagine Publishing, owner of titles including All About History, Digital Photographer and World of Animals for £14.2m.

In 2014, Future sold off its 17 craft and bike titles to Immediate Media, the publisher of the Radio Times and Top Gear, in a £24m deal.

Contributor

Mark Sweney

The GuardianTramp

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