Video Interview with Oliver Condy, editor of BBC Music Magazine
Oliver Condy is editor of BBC Music Magazine, which is the biggest circulating classical music title in the world and is the most comprehensive monthly guide to the world of classical music.
My name is Oliver Condy and I am the editor of BBC Music Magazine.
What is BBC Music Magazine?
BBC Music Magazine is a classical music magazine. We’re published 13 times a year and we cover broadcast music, recorded music and live music, which means that we concentrate on recordings that are made by record companies such as EMI and Decca and Sony and we also support Radio 3, which is the biggest classical music broadcaster, I think, in the world. And we also look at what’s going on around the country, in terms of who’s performing what and where.
What makes you different from the other outlets in your sector?
BBC Music Magazine tries to cover everything; we try to talk to the most experienced classical music lovers, but also the people who are starting out on that adventure. We hope that anyone who reads the magazine will be able to get something out of it, no matter what their level, really. And we think that is an approach that no one seems to be doing, particularly since Classic FM magazine has closed, so the market is very much screaming out for a title such as ours, I think.
How do you decide what goes on the front cover as well as the top features?
The front cover is very much a democratic process. I will come up with some ideas and I will meet with various record company people; I will talk to Radio 3; I will look at the live music brochures, and the programmes, and come up with a mix of covers that I think the readers will be interested in. A mix that is as varied as opera singers, violinists, composers, and any kind of themes that happen throughout the year. We’re just working on our BBC Proms issue at the moment, so it’s a very special Jubilee/Olympic/Proms type cover that we’ve put together, which is quite fun.
In terms of the features, again, I come up with a whole list of features; interesting ideas that, as a team, we come up with, but ideas that we get pitched by journalists as well. We simply sit down together as a team, and we work it out over a cup of tea and some biscuits. Or sometimes down a pub; it’s more fun down the pub. We come up with our best ideas down the pub, actually – some of our more daft ideas, which actually end up being the most fun ideas in the magazine (the ones we get the most letters about) so it can be a useful time.
Do you work closely with PRs and if so, what information from them is most useful to you?
PRs are very important to me, because what they do is provide the bridge between me and the artists – the music artists, the orchestras and the players and the record companies. So for us it’s crucial to get the stories. We can’t keep our fingers in every single pie the whole time because the team is simply not big enough; we don’t have correspondents around the world, we don’t have people sniffing out stories – we just simply don’t have the ability to be able to provide that kind of service for ourselves. We rely on PRs a lot and I go to London and speak to them on the phone a lot, to discuss the kind of things that they want us to cover, and we can hopefully find some kind of middle ground. The kind of information we want from PRs is that great story – the story that I’m going to prick my ears up and say, “gosh, well, we’ve got to get that in the magazine; we really have to”.
Do you work with freelancers and if so how do you like them to get in touch?
Freelancers are very important for our magazine, we employ freelance writers and reviewers and freelance photographers. It’s important for them to get in contact with us, because they can be as important in pitching stories as the PRs can be. Sometimes a freelance can go abroad to a country and dig up a story we never would have dreamt of running and that can be a wonderful surprise. They should get in contact through our website, or simply pick up the magazine – there’s lots of contact emails and phone numbers in there. And we absolutely welcome any pictures at all.