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May 17, 2024

Relaunched Q magazine shut down in same week Loaded revival goes live

Six full-time staff affected by Empire Media Group's closure of Q.

By Charlotte Tobitt

Music magazine Q has abruptly closed five-and-a-half months after being revived online.

A team of six full-time journalists in the US and UK were told on Monday they were losing their jobs as a result.

Two days later, in a separate magazine relaunch, a new digital version of lads’ mag Loaded went live.

Q magazine originally closed after 34 years in July 2020 after it was badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and owner Bauer Media Group failed to find a buyer.

Last year the privately-owned New York-based Empire Media Group, which is led by former National Enquirer editor-in-chief Dylan Howard as chief executive, struck a licensing deal with Bauer to relaunch Q. Empire has acquired and relaunched other magazine brands internationally including the website for the American version of OK! magazine.

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Empire Media Group’s website says it is a “next-generation publishing media house with a large and diversified portfolio of brands supported by superior monetization and diverse revenue streams”.

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Q magazine closure ‘a bloody crying shame’

However, its Q magazine venture has now closed less than six months after its relaunch, having first appointed staff in August.

UK editor Dominic Utton wrote on X that the team had taken the qthemusic.com website from zero in December to 1.5 million monthly page views and 926,000 unique visitors.

Utton wrote: “It’s all a bloody crying shame, but that’s the media landscape right now I guess… In an age when outlets for quality music journalism are increasingly scarce, this is just more bad news for an industry in danger of going under completely.”

Editor-in-chief Andrew Barker, a former music editor and senior features writer for Variety based in the US, wrote on Linkedin: “As is increasingly the case in this business, the decision to pull the plug came with no advance warning, and no indication that anything was wrong.

“To say that we were shocked and devastated would be a colossal understatement. For one, we had a hell of a week planned: multiple interviews, two very fun lists, a cover story, and one piece that we were pretty sure was going to make some serious noise. (And man, you should have seen the plans we had for this summer…) We had really found our stride in recent months, posting our best traffic yet.

“But most importantly, all six of us put our hearts and souls into this venture, logging countless late nights and weekends, because we believed in what we were doing, and wanted to prove that there was still a place for dedicated, thoughtful, outrageously nerdy music writing in 2024.”

The team was completed by news editor and former US Sun reporter Noah Zucker, senior editors/writers Will Harris and Amy Hughes and writer Peter Helman, a former editor at Stereogum who also recently wrote for The Messenger which folded in January.

Harris noted on his Substack that the closure was a “business decision” but the team worked long hours “because we all loved what we were doing, and we all want to make it the best possible publication we could”.

Their interviewees included the likes of Liam Gallagher, The Libertines, Sheryl Crow, Joan Jett, the Jesus and Mary Chain and Billy Idol.

Chris Duncan, Bauer’s chief executive of UK publishing, said in January: “We are pleased to work with EMG to support the relaunch of a much-loved brand, Q. The agreement supports EMG’s desire to maintain Q’s legacy ensuring that music lovers worldwide will have another title to enjoy that complements our own portfolio of specialist brands.”

Press Gazette has contacted Empire Media Group for comment.

Loaded relaunch

Meanwhile on Wednesday Loaded, which defined the lads’ mag era of the 90s and noughties, was relaunched as a website nine years after closing down.

The print magazine’s circulation had declined from 350,000 in 2000 to 34,360 at the end of 2014.

The new Loaded has subtly tweaked the original magazine’s tagline from “for men who should know better” to “for men who know better”.

It has a membership scheme costing £9 per month or £96 per year (after a three-month trial).

Members get a copy of a special 30th anniversary print magazine with Liz Hurley back on the cover, unlimited access to the website, access to the archive, event invites and other member-only perks. It claimed members will save more than £800 per year on average through exclusive discounts.

The relaunch is being led by Danni Levy as executive editor, who left her role as editor-in-chief at Muscle and Health to do so. She is also a former editor-in-chief of Muscle & Fitness UK and is a fitness expert who has appeared on programmes like ITV’s This Morning.

A press release said Loaded was “building a space for straight talk, epic experiences, and a community that celebrates who men really are” and promised “absolute finest in music, sports, film and all else that sparks your mojo”.

Press Gazette has contacted the new Loaded for more details about who is behind the relaunch.

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
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  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
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  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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