The Reading Room

Free NME

For some, the announcement was devastating. For others, it is a matter of supreme indifference. But the news that NME is going to be given away for free from September onwards, has certainly generated plenty of media interest.

In announcing the change, Editor Mike Williams said. “In the 63 years since NME launched we have evolved and transformed plenty of times. The evolution of 2015 is our boldest ever move”.

The move does, however, undeniably reflect a pronounced decline in sales for the magazine which was first launched as the New Musical Express back in 1952. In the Seventies, it peaked with a weekly circulation of 270,000, launching the writing careers of “hip young gunslingers” like Tony Parsons, Julie Burchill and later Paul Morley. For many teenage readers it was an essential part of the music scene and an important component of their lives.

Today, NME sells around 15,000 copies at £2.50 each. As of September, 300,000 copies will be given away at shops, railway stations and other outlets in the hope of boosting advertising revenue and keeping the magazine alive online and in print.

However, the price isn’t the only thing about NME which will be changing. The magazine has proclaimed: “NME will dramatically increase its content output and range…other highlights will include an expansion in live events, more video franchises and greater engagement with users on new social platforms”.

With many other magazines already covering topics like films and fashion, NME will be banking on not alienating its core audience.

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