Tone magazine suspends publishing

UPDATE Dec 15:  Publication of Tone magazine has been suspended, publisher Greg Vincent told NBR today.

The magazine - part of the Parskside stable - was first published in 1999.

Mr Vincent told NBR advertising levels were "okay" but paid circulation "soft".

The publisher explained that by "suspension" he meant the title could possibly reappear as an annual or bi-annual publication. No decision had been made.

"We love it too much to let it completely disappear," Mr Vincent said.

"Pauline Herbst, the current editor of Tone and D-Photo is moving on to pastures new and her assistant on D-Photo, Adrian Hatwell, will edit that magazine in 2012," Mr Vincent said.

"We will have one redundancy in our design department as a result of the Tone suspension."

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Tone's last issue? Publisher says 'possibly'

Oct 25: The publisher of Tone says the magazine’s current issue could be its last.

Asked to address an industry rumour that the Nov/Dec issue of the title could be its last, publisher Greg Vincent replied, “Possibly.”

“We’re not sure what we’re doing yet,” Mr Vincent said.

“We’re pushing our advertisers. We’ve told them they need to support us more or we might close it.”

Advertisers in the current issue include Nikon, Canon, Navman, LG and Samsung.

A decision would be made before the end of November, Mr Vincent said. Advertising levels, single copy sales and subscriptions would all be assessed.

Tone covers gadgets and home theatre, and its masthead bears an ABC audited circulation of 5276 for the six months to December 2010 (not listed: the most recent ABC audit, for the six months to June 2011, which saw Tone's circulation fall to 4508. In its heyday, it topped 7500). Tone is not covered by Nielsen’s readership survey.

Less discretionary income
The magazine is published by Auckland company Parkside Media, owned by Mr Vincent.

Tone was facing two problems, Mr Vincent said.

One was that consumers had less discretionary income.

More spent on TVs, less on hi-fi
The other was a shift in the market. People were spending less on hi-fi systems - once Tone’s bread and butter. Instead, home entertainment budgets were being poured into into big screen TVs, which tended to be sold, and promoted, through large retail chains.

Philips was one TV brand that did promote itself heavily through Tone's pages. Mr Vincent said the Dutch multinational's September 2008 decision to pull out of the New Zealand television market was not a factor in the magazine's possible demise.

The kids today
There were fewer hi-fi shops. “Young people listen to everything off hard disks, not worrying about CDs or vinyl like us old fellas,” Mr Vincent said.  “They don’t care about quality.”

Tone covers featured female models from the magazine’s 1999 launch until its March/April issue this year, which saw a switch to featuring hardware on the cover.

Was this an attempt to reach out to new readers, or advertisers? No, Mr Vincent said. Different editors just had different ideas.

Tone, and a second Parkside magazine, D-Photo, have been edited for the past few months by contractor Vicki Jayne while regular editor Pauline Herbst has been on maternity leave.

As things stand, Ms Herbst is due to return from leave at the end of this month. 

D-Photo was performing strongly, he said. While Tone relied on discretionary spending cycles, D-Photo appealed to professional photographers and enthusiasts.

Ms Herbst said she was unable to comment, citing contractual obligations.

Parkside Media also publishes automotive magazines, including New Zealand Classic Car and NZ Performance Car. Mr Vincent said the car titles were performing well.

Two former Parkside staff - former Tone editor Gary Steel and advertising manager Ashley Kramer - recently teamed with Tone contributor Gary Pearce to found Witchdoctor.co.nz, a "web magazine" that competes with their former employer.

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