Anthem celebrates its 20th anniversary

On Friday 23rd September, Anthem celebrated 20 years of publishing prowess. From a team of five launching MusicTech magazine, Anthem now publishes over a dozen different brands, with a core of 26 team members


Like many publishing companies, Anthem had humble beginnings. Launched at a kitchen table by its three founding directors – Jon Bickley, Simon Lewis and Paul Pettengale – on 23rd Sepetember 2002, the aim was to create a publishing company that helped people to enjoy their passions, starting with an area that the trio had personal experience in: music technology.

Finding its niche

After six months of careful planning and many sleepless nights, the expanded team (including now Creative Director Jenny Cook) proudly launched the first issue of MusicTech in March 2003.

After spotting a gap in the Italian travel market and feeling ready to diversify from its music beginnings, Anthem launched Italia! magazine in 2004, which was soon followed by Taste Italia.

Anthem has never been shy to experiment in new sectors or celebrate emerging trends, launching titles such as Classic Pop, Vintage Rock, Sporting Legends, K-Pop Superstars, Reloved, History of War, and Burlesque Bible over the last 20 years. It has also made a number of acquisitions including the pivotal purchases of Guitar & Bass from IPC and Women’s Running from Wild Bunch Media.

But it was a chance meeting between Anthem’s CEO Jon Bickley and Bath-based book publisher Parragon in 2011 that led to the launch of Cupcake Heaven magazine. Although Anthem didn’t realise it at the time, this also marked the emergence of Anthem’s award-winning food publishing side of the business. Within a few years, Anthem’s repertoire would include Baking Heaven, Gluten-Free Heaven, Healthy Diet, Vegan Food & Living, and Simply Vegan.

In 2015, at the height of the colouring boom, Anthem made the move into the craft market with the launch of Colouring Heaven, which has gone on to become Anthem’s biggest selling print title to date. After a redesign in 2017, Colouring Heaven found its USP as a world-leading fantasy colouring magazine, and has also made room for offshoots including Colouring Heaven Collection, Colouring Heaven Presents, Colouring Heaven Junior, and even its own YouTube channel.

A company with a mission at its heart

When Anthem sold its founding brand MusicTech along with Guitar & Bass in 2018 to BandLab Technologies, it marked a turning point for the company and a chance to re-evaluate exactly what the company stood for, and which values lay at the core of the business.

The new Anthem that emerged was a company with a mission to help people lead happier, healthier lives through its core sectors of wellbeing and music.

Colouring Heaven, Women’s Running, Vegan Food & Living and Italia! lead the way in the wellbeing sector, while Classic Pop, Vintage Rock, and specials like Kings of Pop delight readers in the music division.

And over the last 20 years, Anthem has evolved from just being a print magazine publisher, to running award-winning websites, experimenting in the events arena, hosting popular podcasts the Women’s Running Podcast and the Simply Vegan Podcast, and, as previously mentioned, launching the Colouring Heaven’s YouTube channel.

Plus it is proud to have been able to put its money where its mouth is by donating and raising over £50,000 for charity over the last 3 years, a large percentage of this going to Anthem’s chosen charity Bath Mind.

We can only start to imagine what Anthem will have achieved in another 20 years time!

Anthem at 20

CEO Jon Bickley comments: “Like all media companies, Anthem has had to evolve to survive and thrive. We’ve always created magazines, websites and podcasts to be proud of, and we’ve also experimented with different business models and new markets along the way.

“But throughout we’ve striven for excellence and to work positively with our partners and stakeholders – whether readers, advertisers, suppliers, distributors or printers. I’d like to thank everyone who has been part of that development with us. 

“It’s a particularly poignant moment because our friend and co-founder Paul Pettengale is no longer around to share it with Simon and me, but I know he would have been proud of what we’ve achieved.

“We’d like to thank everyone who currently works for – or has worked for – Anthem. On the payroll or as a valued contributor.

“Without brilliant people, our business is just ideas waiting to be executed or content needing to be created. And without our people challenging and encouraging us, we wouldn’t have the culture we have today. One where everyone is genuinely trying to make the world just a little better and where they look after each other first before themselves. 

“It’s a privilege. Thanks.”


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