The Skinny is a magazine that began in autumn 2005 in a drafty third-floor tenement flat in EH1, Edinburgh, where a group of ten volunteers, bewitched by the process of making magazines, spent three months compiling Issue 1. From the start we wanted to give events and artists that we enjoyed a platform from which they could be seen, and we wanted to help people make informed decisions about what they experience culturally. We believe The Skinny does this. We will always keep it free, covering cutting edge, forward-thinking culture as a priority, and we will always strive to directly engage with the creative and curious spirits amongst us all.
Six months after starting up, The Skinny moved out of home into a studio in The Drill Hall, Edinburgh, and another six months after that, began its first foray into being an employer, taking on three full time staff. By October 2006, The Skinny was a year old and had regular long-term advertisers, attracted by the high print volumes – at this time 25,000 copies a month – and the magazine's local visibility.
The Skinny has always put print first, and although content has always been organised by a system on the website, our organisation's culture is led by the monthly production of the print magazine. The magazine's circulation has grown year on year, and owes its visibility to the distribution network of local clubs, bars, cafes, cinemas, gig venues, restaurants, galleries, theatres and retailers. Without these businesses we would not have a route to our audience, and we are very grateful for their continued support. The Skinny was first distributed in Edinburgh and Glasgow only, and in 2007 we began to distribute the magazine in Dundee to support the burgeoning arts and culture scene there.
In 2008, The Skinny became Scotland's largest 'Entertainment and Listings' magazine verified by the ABC with just over 30,000 copies. This was made possible through our distribution team's epic efforts to standardise delivery of the magazine to the ABCs regulations, which require a signature for every drop. We still use this team and their systems today.
In 2009 we re-launched the website previously at theskinnymag.co.uk to theskinny.co.uk; and by the end of 2010 this site was attracting 100,000 unique users a month, looking at over 250,000 pages. At the end of 2011 The Skinny relaunched its website again, and this is the site you see today. In 2012 we launched our ace mobile site which now accounts for 25% of our traffic.
We had always wondered if The Skinny magazine would work somewhere else outside of Scotland, so we decided to try it. In October 2012 we took a deep breath and began to plan for a new magazine to start in the Northwest of England, covering Manchester and Liverpool. Recruitment for sales, editorial and production staff started early 2013 and we published the first issue of The Skinny Northwest in April 2013. You can see it here.
From a group of ten volunteers, The Skinny has grown to become an employer of eighteen staff, with a growing contributor base of around 300 photographers, illustrators and writers, and we now are able to pay for print content. We’ve won awards for our leading journalism (Allen Wright Award, 2006), had the first word on now leading acts (Battles’ and The National's first UK magazine cover, plus ahead-of-the-game praise for Arcade Fire, CSS, Twilight Sad, Frightened Rabbit and more), and had our photographers there to record what it looked like.
The Skinny doesn’t stop at reporting on the scene, and has hosted many parties and events, and regularly partners with arts festivals through out the year. Things we have done have included packed club nights with rosters of local DJs, parties with trapeze artists and burlesque dancers, art exhibition openings with the great and good of the emerging art world and internationally talked-about conferences with top speakers in their fields.
The Skinny Vision
The Skinny will be:
A good place to work. The Skinny should have happy staff, who are passionate about what they do and find being part of the team provides them with support, experience and opportunities they wouldn't otherwise have.
Seen as a mark of quality – an independent critical voice with an eye for talent across the arts, whose opinion is respected for being unbiased and informed.
Cutting edge: the first ones to tell you about your new favourite band, artist, club night, designer, writer, film, play. We want to inspire people to go out and experience things they wouldn't otherwise know about.
Innovative in our use of technology, in our development of design and content in the changing cultural landscape of new media. Our writing should be entertaining, provocative, engaging; our design and the images we use should be bespoke and ahead of the curve.
Authoritative. We want to be the go-to place for opinion and information on all things cultural in print and online. Open to and supportive of new talent, providing a platform for exposure and a forum for debate and development.
Renowned – for all of the above across the UK and internationally.