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Future buys back Metal Hammer and Classic Rock following TeamRock collapse

By | Published on Monday 9 January 2017


Music magazines Metal Hammer and Classic Rock have been saved from closure after the administrator for their publisher agreed a sale to Future Publishing, somewhat ironically the very company start-up TeamRock acquired the titles from in 2013.

As previously reported, rock media firm TeamRock announced it had fallen into administration just before Christmas. The company had been set up in 2012 by a team of radio execs, who then bought the rock magazines off Future and built a TeamRock-branded radio station and website around the more established media brands.

The administration, which saw 73 staff axed without severance pay just as the festive period got underway, resulted in all of TeamRock’s output basically being put on hold, with the future of its magazines and other assets unclear, even though it seemed likely there would be bidders for the Metal Hammer and Classic Rock brands.

Future will acquire Metal Hammer and Classic Rock, both magazines’ accompanying awards, and their sister titles Prog and Blues, in a deal worth £800,000. Which is a pretty good result for Future, given it sold the rock mags to TeamRock in 2013 for a neat £10.2 million.

Of course, even with the bargain basement acquisition, Future will now be faced with the challenge of building decent revenue streams around the titles it has re-acquired. Most magazine publishers are struggling to build viable businesses around their legacy titles, even when online audiences radically outperform previous peak print readerships.

With paid-for content rarely working online with consumer-facing titles, and online ad income relatively modest, most publishers are pursuing event, sponsorship, branded-content and/or branded-product strategies, with mixed success.

Future will likely be hoping that it can make a success of its former rock mag assets by finding synergies with its instrument titles like Total Guitarist, Guitarist and Rhythm, and the London Drum Show and London Bass Guitar Show events it acquired last year.

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

It is not yet clear what the acquisition means for the 73 staff who lost their jobs last month, and how many will be taken on by Future, though it seems likely it will be a relatively small number. In the wake of last month’s administration, metal band Orange Goblin launched a Just Giving campaign that has now raised over £85,000 – and last week they staged a benefit gig – to provide those employees affected by the collapse of TeamRock with a little cash to tide them over.