NME announced today that its print edition will cease on March 9. The move comes as parent company Time Inc. adopts a digital-first strategy. NME will continue to publish special issues in print, such as its new paid-for series NME Gold.
Born as New Musical Express in 1952, the publication served as a hotbed for music news and criticism. It was the first British paper to include a singles chart. In recent years NME faced declining ad sales. It relaunched as a free publication in September 2015, increasing its print run to 300,000 from a circulation of 15,000, but it continued to struggle.
Paul Cheal, Time Inc. UK group managing director, Music, said in a statement: “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. 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.
“At the same time, we have also faced increasing production costs and a very tough print advertising market. 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.”
Keith Walker, digital director of NME, added: “NME has been at the digital forefront for more than two decades. Our global digital audience has almost doubled over the past two years. With these new developments, we are giving consumers even more of what they want from us. By making the digital platforms our core focus we can accelerate the amazing growth we’ve seen and reach more people than ever before on the devices they’re most naturally using.”
With the shuttering of the print edition, NME aims to keep going by focusing a suite of new “products” intended to optimize its digital footprint.
NME Audio, comprising two new music channels – NME 1 and NME 2 – is available on Regional DAB, the TuneIn App and on NME.COM. NME 1 will champion new talent on NME’s radar and NME 2 will feature a range of artists and NME classics. In addition, a new weekly franchise, The Big Read, is to launch on NME.COM, replacing the weekly cover star interview. This in-depth feature will also be the lead item in a weekly curation of NME.COM’s biggest stories available in the App Store.