1. In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
When planning my media product, which was to create a monthly Indie Genre music magazine front cover, contents page and an article aimed at 15 – 25 year old females, I had to ensure my product was realistic; I carried out research so that I could base my work on other magazines. I looked through magazines such as NME (2009), Q (2005) and Blender (2008). A common convention of NME and Blender is that the titles of the magazines are placed behind the models head, thus telling the audience that the magazine is well known, and the style of the magazine is known to regular readers, I have used this technique on my media product to make it look more realistic.
On the front cover of many magazines, story hooks are justified down the left hand side and the right hand side, I have challenged this by only having one main hook, and the other hooks are placed in circles, which are randomly position on the front cover, to give it a more edgy look like on NME (2009).
The celebrity or model on the front cover was also often making eye contact with the camera to create a sense of curiosity within the buyer to ensure a sale; my model that is conventionally centrally positioned is posing this way, inviting the customer to read the magazine. Like other magazines, such as Kerrang (2009) I have chosen a sexually attractive model to help the magazine sell as women will aspire to be just like this celebrity.
The magazines I have researched have stuck to a common convention of using a limited number of colours, to follow this convention I have used three colours; red, white and black.
Like all of the magazines I have researched, I have a barcode on my front cover followed by a similar price to the magazines. I have a hook bar along both the bottom and top of my front cover, this making some of the hooks stand out. I have also used colloquial language such as slang to relate to my target audience which is 15 – 25 year olds.
For my article I have followed common conventions of using images throughout. My article is in the style of an interview, which is common of magazines such as Q (2009) and NME (2009). I chose to do my article like this is it appeals to my target audience because on my questionnaire narrow columns were preferred. Before the interview begins I have produced a small paragraph to tease the reader about what is in the interview. This is common of interviews within magazines. I have followed common conventions of most magazines by chosen to write my article in columns. I have also put page numbers on my articles as throughout magazines I have discovered page numbers mainly only appear on text pages. My layout for my article is mainly based on the layouts of NME (2009), NME also use quotes to hook the reader, and I have used this technique.
For my contents page I have mainly been inspired by NME (2009) and I have used the common convention of using the magazine title on the page followed by ‘this month’ also at the end of this I have produced a circle with hooks that have appeared on the cover, pointing out that these are the articles that invited them into the magazine. This is common within Reveal (2009). I have also decided to write up an editor’s letter which is common within many magazines such as New (2009). I have commonly placed page numbers beside my article headings; also underneath the headings I have used small sentences to hook the reader to the article. I have put these articles under sub headings, which is a common convention of NME (2009). Also on my contents page I have three photographs of models which link to three articles in the magazine. This is extremely common in magazines.
2. How does your media product represent social groups?
My media product mainly represents teenage females. I have targeted upper working class or lower middle class people; my article represents women in this class in a positive light as the article shows a female artist is succeeding in an industry, which is typically dominated by men, which my female target audience could relate to in a patriarchal society. The main celebrity is also someone they could relate to as the article shows how she had a lucky break, making the audience think how they might have the chance for their lucky break. The colour scheme is bold this helps women to relate to the article and person as red stereotypically shows connotations of passion and love, although men may also be able to relate to the colour scheme as it is bold.
3. What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?
Bauer media was bought from Emap, who publish worldwide and have an empire compromising of 282 magazines in 15 countries with an annual turnover of 1.79 billion Euros, where it is built on millions of personal relationships with readers. They connect to audiences with persuasive content. This is why I believe Bauer would be good to distribute my magazine as I would be widening the market for them, which will offer them an opportunity to expand their audience into a niche market of 15 – 25 year old females. Bauer is famous for being the owners of ‘Q’. This magazine is a different kind of music magazine to mine, but I feel like they would still like to publish my magazine as they are hoping for a wider market for a genre of music especially for females, like my magazine as it is aimed at the female Indie social group. This way the company can go for a new wider audience increasing their earnings. I think Bauer would be interested in my magazine, as most music magazines aren’t aimed at women so it would allow Bauer to tap into a new audience, which would increase their profits.
4. Who would be the audience for your media product?
For my media product my ideal audience would essentially be students ageing between 15 and 25 interested in the Indie genre of music, this is because they would be able to relate to the language used in my product as the Indie genre is becoming more popular. I also think my magazine would appeal to both sexes, although I have aimed it at a female audience men may also indulge in it also as I have not used typical ‘girly’ colours. I chose a unisex genre of music both genders listen to Indie, whereas if I had chosen ‘pop’ music it would have been more typically aimed at females as they are more likely to be interested in that. I also widened my age range to 25 as men typically don’t create a taste for music until their late teens, early twenties.
5. How did you attract/ address your audience?
First I attracted my audience by the title; the title of my magazine is SLAM! Which has connotations of the genre of music my magazine is based on as it is the name of a popular Indie bands song (Pendulum – Slam) I emphasised the word Slam with an exclamation point which is a noisy, forceful and energetic onomatopoeic word which appeals to the youthful audience. I attracted my audience by finding out what they looked for within a magazine by creating a questionnaire, then producing my magazine accordingly. I have used people in my magazine that are roughly the same age as my target audience but they are famous, thus enabling people reading the magazine to relate to them and aspire to be like them.
I used a sexually attractive model, and Naomi Wolf (1999) recognised in the ‘Beauty Myth’, that sexually attractive models are used to sell products to women, because they have been conditioned by patriarchal society to want to look like models so they buy the products because they aspire to be like the glamorous women. I have created a house style, which woman can relate to using a soft red, which can also attract males. I took into consideration some theory behind the sexually posed models used to grab the readers attention. I found that this was a typical convention of all the magazines I looked at on the shelves in nowadays such as Blender (2009).
My analysis of existing products and audience research enabled me to provide features and hooks for stories that my target audience would like; this allowed my magazine to be eye catching. The price of my magazine is £1.99 as during my research my target audience selected this price on my questionnaire; this is a reasonable price and attracts my audience to my magazine.
I am exploiting another aspect of Uses and Gratifications because my audience will select my magazine to find out information about bands/artists they’re interested in.
I am exploiting the Blumler & Katz theory of Uses and Gratifications as throughout my magazine I have used models roughly the same age as my target audience, thus gives a sense of identity as my target audience can compare themselves to the people in the magazines, this allowing them to relate to the problems within the magazine and aspire to be just like the celebrities. This is very common within magazines.
After my magazine pages were complete I decided to hand them out to 20 people that fit into my target audience. This is so I could see if my magazine would be capable to compete with existing music magazines. I received comments of almost all participants here are some examples of them;
Samantha Harber, 18, said ‘I think your magazine is able to compete with others as it is full of information that 15+ year olds would like to hear about music’
Jessica Smith, 22, responded with ‘I like how you have used a red to stand out from the black and white, I like how it is bold but soft; this attracts me towards the magazine’
Ben Moore, 15, smirked ‘I was attracted to your magazine straight away as your model is drawing me in with the pose I also think she is very pretty, the pose makes me feel welcome to your magazine’
Lauren Matthews, 25, admitted ‘I really enjoyed your article on Macy Jones, I felt it has helped me through some of my problems, I like your lifestyle take on music, this is much more interesting than just hearing about a local gig. I would definitely buy this magazine’
6. What have you learnt about new technologies from the process of creating this product?
I have learnt a lot of skills using Adobe Photoshop. For example I have learnt how to cut out models by using numerous tools such as Magnetic Lasso Tool, Lasso Tool, Pen Tool and Eraser Tool. I have learnt how to use a digital camera properly by using a tripod so that the pictures taken did not become blurry. During the process of making this magazine I have also learnt different effects on fonts. I learnt how to use Bevel and Emboss, Drop Shadow and Stroke to attract the reader’s eye. I have also learnt how to loose red eye in photographs using the Red Eye tool within Adobe Photoshop. On my photographs I have increased the brightness and the contrast of the models to help reflect them in a positive light and to stand out more, catching the readers’ eye. For my assignment I was asked to create a Blog which would keep track of my day to day progress of my product. Using a Blog has enabled me to change from a media consumer to a media producer, taking advantage of Web 2.0 I have been given the chance to reach an audience of millions possible.
7. Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?
Looking back to my preliminary task I have learned a lot about magazines, this is mainly because I had a lot more time to produce my final product. The time frame gave me time to be able to research into what my target audience would prefer within a magazine, I was also able to research existing products which allowed me to work out the standard of my competition I was competing with. I have also learned a lot about photo manipulation skills throughout my practical designing. I have also been able to create layout skills which will enable me to compete with existing products on today’s shelves. I have learnt how to make my music magazine look more professional compared to my prelim task as my prelim looks as if it was rushed and need more care whilst producing.
Lisa Stanford, 17 said ‘Your final music magazine product is much more eye catching that your prelim task, your prelim project looks as if it had little time to be completed whereas your music magazine looks as if it has had some time spent on it, not rushed.’
Realising that my prelim project looked rushed I learnt how to take more care and effort into photo manipulation to make my final product look more professional. Overall I think my final product has worked extremely well compare to my prelim project.
I also took audience research and feedback into account along with my analysis of existing products, I felt much more confident with the use of digital imaging software which enabled me to produce a magazine that correctly targets its audience and could be sold alongside existing music magazine such as NME, Blender, Q and Mojo. This is because I was aiming for a nationwide niche audience of 5000+ people as opposed to a very specific local audience of school pupils at one school in Gateshead so my analysis and research was very vital.