NME to become free weekly, launch new digital products and increase live events
Time Inc. UK’s music brand will abandon paid circulation model in September to become a freely distributed weekly with a projected circulation of over 300,000
Time Inc. UK’s music magazine brand NME (formerly known as New Musical Express) announced today that it will relaunch the brand as a free weekly magazine and digital products in September. The weekly, which will be distributed at train stations, universities and at select retail outlets, is expected to have a circulation of over 300,000, Time Inc. UK said.
New Musical Express dates from the early fifites when music promoter Maurice Kinn bought the failing Accordion Times and Musical Express and renamed the magazine New Musical Express (thus leaving a huge hole in the market for an accordion music magazine that strangely has never been filled).
The magazine’s heyday, for many, was the early sixties when it held annual NME Poll Winners’ Concerts that featured The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Animals and others. At that time circulation rose above 300,000.
But the late sixties were tough on the magazine, and it began to lose ground to its rival, Melody Maker. The NME seemed dedicated to older musical trends, versus its rival, and circulation dropped to around 60,000. (I used to be a loyal Melody Maker reader in the early to mid ’70s thanks its critics Richard Williams, Chris Welch and Steve Lake who were always writing about more adventurous bands such as King Crimson, Henry Cow or Peter Gabriel era Genesis).
Since then the magazine’s fortunes have ebbed and flowed, often beating out its rivals, but also seeing its circulation fall to below 20,000. In 1963 the Kinn sold the magazine to IPC Magazines (later IPC Media), which was picked up by Time Inc. in 2001. IPC Media formally changed its name to Time Inc. UK just last fall. (Melody Maker was shuttered by its owner, also IPC Media, in 2000.)
Here is Time Inc. UK’s announcement for the moves to be made by NME:
TIME INC. UK ANNOUNCES MAJOR BRAND TRANSFORMATION FOR NME
Digital innovation, a new approach to content, more commercial opportunities for partners and a free weekly magazine
London, UK – July 6, 2015 — Iconic brand NME today announces the latest stage in its evolution as an audience-first global media business. As well as a new NME.COM and digital products, in September NME will become a free weekly magazine. With music firmly at the heart of the brand, NME’s authority will be the gateway into a wider conversation around film, fashion, television, politics, gaming and technology. More than 300k copies will be distributed nationally through stations, universities and retail partners.
NME will dramatically increase its content output and range, with new original as well as curated content appearing across all platforms, including print. Other highlights will include an expansion in live events, more video franchises and greater engagement with users on new social platforms. NME will also continue to grow its global footprint.
Says Marcus Rich, CEO of Time Inc. UK: “This famous 63 year-old brand was an early leader in digital and has been growing its global audience successfully for the best part of 20 years. It has been able to do so because music is such an important passion and now is the right time to invest in bringing NME to an even bigger community for our commercial partners.”
Mike Williams, editor of NME, adds: “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. Every media brand is on a journey into a digital future. 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. The future is an exciting place, and NME just kicked the door down.”
The new NME will launch on 18 September.