NME, which has been at the forefront of the British music press for over 60 years is set to close its print publication, with the last ever issue to be released tomorrow.
The publication’s owner Time Inc. made this statement to Music Week earlier today: “NME.com will continue to operate and expand, with two new audio channels – one for new music, another for “NME classics”.
These audio channelse are launching online and on digital radio across the airwaves with a new, paid-for magazine series called NME Gold, will begin publishing in print.
The news comes just a week after Editor Mike Williams announced his departure from the magazine with immediate effect and Time Inc. was sold to a private equity owner for £130 million.
The magazine was founded in 1952 and the New Musical Express became a leader in the once-competitive market for music mags and a must-read, selling up to 300,000 copies a week in the 1970s. In the ensuing decade, the paper alligned with the punk and post-punk movements, tackling important issues such as the rise of the far-right and suicide among young people.
The paper changed once more to a glossy magazine format in 2002, when its intimate coverage of bands like the Libertines divided readers while ushering in a new era of tabloid-style journalism. However; by 2015 the magazine had slumped to only having a 15,000 circulation and decided to go free, in an attempt to change with the times.
In a statement, Paul Cheal, Time Inc. UK’s managing director for music, blames “increasing production costs and a very tough print advertising market” for the free edition’s closure.
“NME is one of the most iconic brands in British media and our move to free print has helped to propel the brand to its biggest ever audience on NME.COM,” Cheal says in the statement.
He added: “The print re-invention has helped us to attract a range of cover stars that the previous paid-for magazine could only have dreamed of.”
He continued: “Unfortunately we have now reached a point where the free weekly magazine is no longer financially viable. It is in the digital space where effort and investment will focus to secure a strong future for this famous brand.” The switch to digital will result in redundancies, according to a statement obtained by Music Week.