Over the past two decades the commercial music magazine industry has lapsed into a deepening cycle of continuous decline. The demise of the widely popular UK pop music magazine, Smash Hits, in 2006 and the announcement of the final print issue of NME in 2018 has been accompanied by music magazines worldwide reporting year-on-year declines in sales and readership. Meanwhile research has found that portrayals of gender on music magazine covers are largely unrepresentative and unreflective of social heterogeneity – yet the gendered media histories of the industry’s enduring and iconic music magazines remain largely under researched. In order to explore this, this feminist media research adopts a cross-cultural, longitudinal design to track and compare the gendered media histories on the covers of two music magazines; Rolling Stone (USA) and Hot Press (Ireland). This is timely as cross-cultural research into the evolution of media representation within these spaces is non-existent, despite the commercial importance placed on magazine covers by both academics and industry experts. The results demonstrate that, increasingly over time, these music magazine covers have become gendered spaces. The images of women and of men in these spaces are being shaped by a perpetual, intensifying narrowing process which has become embedded in media practices over several decades and shared across continents. This paper argues that this shared ‘crisis’ of representation demonstrates a strengthened relationship between branding, identity, and music media space.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.