Frank Proctor’s Muse magazine, Hong Kong’s answer to the New Yorker?
Mar 2, 2008
has been tackled by a new magazine
Subtitled “Hong Kong culture demands a fresh look”, Muse was launched as a monthly magazine in February 2007.
“A lot of people have said that Hong Kong is not fertile ground for this sort of magazine, but we see this as a market opportunity for us,” Proctor said.
launched by a veteran of the Hong Kong media scene
Proctor, a longtime Hong Kong resident, was formerly Newsweek’s general manager for Asia and international circulation director.
who identified a market
Studying the market from July 2005, Proctor found three target groups in what he calls his target “crossover” audience with deep bilingual interest in Hong Kong culture:
- 1- Deeply-rooted long-term expatriates
- 2- Hong Kong natives with an international outlook
- 3- Overseas Chinese who have returned to Hong Kong. They prefer English, but still have cantopop as a reference.
of people who will pay money
The cover price of 50 HKD for those on sale in bookstores and newsstands is intended to give the publication value and encourage subscriptions. From the monthly print run of around 8,000 copies per month, the magazine now has 1,000 paid subscriptions and several hundred copies sold on newsstands.
for a hard to find magazine
“You will not find our magazine everywhere and that is intentional,” Proctor said. “We want to develop a high value image, which has already been reflected in our advertisers.” Proctor pointed to a Rolex advertisement in the magazine and said the target advertisers are the same as for Time or Newsweek, not local advertisers.
with an original bilingual style,
After studying bilingual publications, Proctor ruled out a straight translation because readers feel they pay for half a magazine. Also, since his audience was bilingual they do not need a translation. Instead, Proctor decided to mix English and Cantonese so that they “interact like jazz”.
features-rich standard sections
Diary – a selective look at the things you need to do this month in Hong Kong, from opera to Cantopop.
Features and profiles – these might include boutique cinemas, tattoo art or a look at why Hong Kong is so poor for young architects.
Fiction – both in English and Chinese
Essays – original essays both in English and Chinese
Gallery – looking at Hong Kong artists
edited by a bilingual and experienced staff.
The two senior editors are Perry Lam, a cinema and cultural critic who has written for Yazhou Zhoukan, City Magazine and the South China Morning Post and Jill Wong, a former Reuters correspondent and former editor of the monthly Asia Risk magazine. Contributors have included Lung Ying-tai (龍應台), Xu Xi, Lam Joy-Shan(林在山) and Leo Lee Ou-fan.
In summary: Creating a new market is challenging, but Proctor presumably did sufficient homework to identify a niche that can sustain the publication. The arrival of Time Out could help by building a critical mass of advertisers being solicited by local culture-focussed magazines. (More thoughts on Time Out in Hong Kong from a new blog here)