It's been fighting the good fight as the last music weekly standing for years, but now the New Musical Express is changing format to become a free publication.
It’s the end of an era for music journalism as NME, the last music weekly newspaper in circulation, has announced that it is changing format to become a ‘free sheet’ publication as of September 2015. The overhaul is due to continuing poor sales, with the 63 year old paper’s circulation dipping below 15,000 for the first time in its history last month.
On Monday (July 6th) the NME’s owner, Time Inc UK, says that it is taking the next step in making the historic title “an audience-first global media business”, turning it into “a gateway into a wider conversation around film, fashion, television, politics, gaming and technology.”
Kasabian, just one of the hundreds of bands the NME has championed down the years
Starting on September 18th, 300,000 free copies will be distributed throughout the UK via stations, universities and retail partners. Code for: the oldest musical weekly will sadly become another one of those take-it-or-leave-it papers thrust into the hands of uninterested commuters.
Actual music will now just be one among many forms of entertainment given prominence in the new publication, as it will seek to make connections with gamers and movie fans over social media in addition to its printed form. It will “dramatically increase its content output and range, with new original as well as curated content appearing across all platforms, including print,” according to the statement.
Mike Williams, the current editor of the NME, put a positive spin on things by saying: “NME is already a major player and massive influencer in the music space, but with this transformation we’ll be bigger, stronger and more influential than ever before.” However, fans and traditionalists will be concerned that their favourite publication will become just another generic lifestyle mag.
The NME has championed a huge number of independent and alternative rock acts and played a part in helping them to achieve mainstream success. In the last fifteen years, it has aided the likes of The Strokes, The Libertines, Arctic Monkeys and Alt-J in finding chart success, and many more besides down the years.
However, it has always had a bit of a reputation for having its ‘favourites’ – the pejorative term “an NME band” was often thrown around as an insult in the mid noughties – and sometimes for tearing down bands after they’d promoted them. Just ask The Vines about that, if you can remember who they are.