The world’s first weekly newspaper entirely devoted to music, ‘Melody Maker‘ (MM), began in 1926 and ended in 2000, when it was absorbed by its rival, the ‘New Musical Express‘ (NME), no slouch itself with its first publication in 1946 as the ‘Musical Express’. ‘New..’ was added after a re-vamp in 1952. It eventually ceased printing in 2018 and is now only online.
Although describing ‘Musical Express’, this quote can be applied to both MM and NME: “…[they] dealt with music like it was the most important thing in the world, and … the people who played it were an elect group, apart from everyday society” (Pat Long, 2012). In 1952 NME was the first to print a weekly Top 12 singles chart, compiled initially by phoning 20 record shops and asking for their sales figures. MM went a step further with a Top 20 in 1956, then an LP chart in 1958.
Bands would advertise for new members in the classified ads and careers were shaped by reviews and interviews gladly given to these music industry ‘influencers’ of the 1960s/70s. Both had their ups and downs but just when closure loomed, a new music genre or sub-genre would emerge and subject itself to the intellectual journalistic analysis that revitalised their teenage readership.
(Top images: 1980 and 1991 Melody Maker covers by badgreeb RECORDS at Flickr.com / CC BY-SA 2.0, 1961 NME cover by Bradford Timeline at Flickr.com / CC BY-NC 2.0 and 1993 NME cover by Adrian Brown at Flickr.com / CC BY 2.0)