After over 60 years of dominating the music journalism industry, the iconic brand NME is making some drastic changes to maintain its relevancy in the age of digital distribution.
From September 18th the magazine will be available for free, boosting the current circulation from 15,000 to 300,000. Time Inc. UK have announced major brand transformations for NME, expanding their focus to film, fashion, television, politics, gaming and technology.
NME editor Mike Williams said:
“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.”
The magazine was labelled as the best-selling British music newspaper during the ’70’s. Progressing from newspaper to magazine, it played a huge role in circulating the wave of British alternative rock movements such as the punk, alternative rock and indie rock scenes.
Its distribution of around 300,000 in the late 70’s provided a platform for classic British rock outfits such as The Smiths and Oasis to launch their ground breaking careers, and gave bands such as Joy Division national exposure with gig and EP reviews.
However, NME sales have plummeted as readers migrate to digital sources for music news that are faster, more convenient and cheaper than print.
Print magazines are becoming progressively irrelevant in an age where social media sites such as twitter have given readers an appetite for fast and freely delivered news. UK retail magazines lost nearly 1m in print sales during the first half of 2014.
Data from MagNet has shown that for first quarter of 2015, the number of magazines sold in retail fell 14.2 percent compared to the first quarter last year.
“Without a concerted effort by the major industry leaders to sell the overall value of our products to retailers, the loss of retailer real estate dedicated to magazines will continue as sales decline.”
However, long-standing global media companies have fought back by expanding content output and finding alternative revenue streams, and NME has followed suit.
“Every media brand is on a journey into a digital future,” said Williams. “That doesn’t mean leaving print behind, but it does mean that print has to change, so I’m incredibly excited by the role it will now play as part of the new NME.”