History of gender representation and hypersexualisation on covers of Hot Press and Rolling Stone detailed in new research

Recently published research published by the Irish Communications Review, a peer-reviewed media journal from Technological University Dublin, provides a detailed history of gender representation on the covers of two iconic music magazines; Hot Press and Rolling Stone. The research was conducted by Dublin-based journalist and researcher Yvonne Kiely, who is also the features editor of Spread and owner of Lazer Guided Reporter.

The research presents over 9,000 pieces of data collected from the cover space of both magazines and presents this data over time, resulting in an account of bodily coverage and exposure for artists from 1967 (Rolling Stone) and from 1977 (Hot Press) until 2017. Interestingly, this is the first piece of research worldwide that compares representation across music magazine covers and it’s the first time that the cover of Hot Press has been made the subject of academic inquiry.

The key findings:

  • Images of women artists on the cover of Hot Press have become hypersexualised. This follows on from previous research stating that women on the cover of Rolling Stone have become hypersexualised (see research from Hatton and Trautner, 2011).
  • Images of male and female artists on both magazine covers are highly regulated and coordinated across magazines, across time and across continents.
  • Images of women on the covers of Hot Press and Rolling Stone have almost exactly the same experiences in terms of bodily representation, as do the men of Hot Press and Rolling Stone.
  • Increasingly since the magazines’ beginnings, men’s bodies are covered by clothing, and women’s bodies are exposed and uncovered by clothing.
  • Finally, the paper presents a new theory called exposure norms to describe how artists are presented on music magazine covers.

Download the paper from the Irish Communications Review repository: Kiely, Yvonne (2020) “Music Magazines and Gendered Space: The Representation of Artists on the Covers of Hot Press and Rolling Stone,” Irish Communication Review: Vol. 17: Iss. 1, Article 5

Read a summary of the data here: The cross-cultural branding of artists on the covers of Hot Press and Rolling Stone is a problem

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