Opinion: RIP Team Rock - a rock soap opera!
Quite bizarrely I ended up with two copies of the first issue of Classic Rock Magazine. I was in HMV in Sheffield looking for some rare Frank Zappa reissue when I stumbled upon the magazine on the rack next to the till and purchased it. At pretty much the same time my late wife was in HMV in Manchester purchasing a CD by Craig David, or someone equally as repulsive, saw the magazine and thought that “Anthony would be interested in this shit.”
And here we are 18 or so years later and the owners of that magazine (and Metal Hammer et al) has just gone into administration. Am I surprised? Hell, no! The writing has been on the wall for years!
Both Metal Hammer and Classic Rock have become almost biblical, total essential reading for many rock fans who have progressed from the likes of Rock Sound and Kerrang! (and I still have the first issue of Kerrang! too). They are not just magazines though, they have become global brands, and that is important. So what went wrong?
For me the writing was on the wall when Prog Magazine started. Don’t get me wrong – I am a HUGE prog fan and I initially greeted the first issue with excitement. But I was astonished that there was a market for a magazine of a similar size, layout and quality to that of Classic Rock, complete with a “free” CD every month and that CD has been a huge voyage of discovery for me and opened my ears and heart to numerous bands. The magazine continued so I assumed the marketing team had done their homework, but sadly it was flawed concept. The editorial team's definition of “prog” was a lot wider than mine and bands that were essentially “folk rock” became prog as well artistes from other genres.
If Prog was flawed, the powers that be were not interested, they had the plot. The only problem was the plot wasn’t just lost, it was running out the building faster than an Olympic sprinter. What followed were magazines that were just going to set the world alight – AOR Magazine, Country Magazine and Blues Magazine along with a realisation that there had been no market research whatsoever. None. Zilch.
Then there was the Team Rock radio station. Great idea, even better for the listener as there is no advertising. And the income is going to come from where, precisely? Doesn’t DAB access cost millions? No ads? Seriously? I laughed and cried in equal measures.
Next came something that few will have heard about. TeamRock sponsored a drag racing team. Yep, boat loads of money was burnt up along a racetrack in a sport that few follow.
To quote InPublishing: Chief Executive of TeamRock, Billy Anderson said: “Drag Racing is where Rock and Metal fans worldwide belong. Having our own car is a great way of letting them all know about our platform and enabling them to become members of something very unique; the Teamrock.com family."
And the drag racing team added “TeamRock.com has allowed us to spend heavily to bring the car back to a position where it can stand tall and totally compete with any other car out there.”
Finally there were the Top 10 lists on social media, click bait of the worst kind. When you receive posts that list the tracks on Led Zep IV from worst to best, or Dark Side of the Moon from worst to best, you know that the level of journalism has reached desperation point zero.
And back to the plot… at this point even the Hubble telescope won’t be able to find it as it is in another galaxy, far, far away.
It is easy from the outside looking in because, to be a teeny bit fair, their heart (and pockets) were in the right place. And talking to a TR employee several months ago it seems they had a “no-one will get made redundant here” attitude. This is just so wrong, no-one is bigger than the business. The trouble was it had become one big happy family. You don’t employ friends. Your employee’s don’t become friends. There is no emotional attachment in business. Business is ruthless, and a ruthless approach was what was required. However, it seems that none was forthcoming, and if it was it was far too late.