In 1952 the New Musical Express launched with The Goons on the cover, asking a sixpence per issue.
By 1964 the twin rise of The Beatles and The Stones, as well as the many pretenders and competitors that came in their wake, had driven readership to 307,000 – which remains the magazine’s circulation peak.
In 2015 they ditched the cover cost, lowered the print qualities and made it a free street press, clearly modelling this off The BRAG.
Now, 66 years after the first issue hit news-stands (or at least the knapsack of that little poor boy with the bell who used to sell every newspaper in post-WWII England) the NME print edition is no more.
The reasons are obvious: a dwindling subscription base, the loss of advertising (such as classifieds, which drove most newspapers), the prohibitive cost of printing 300,000 copies each week without a cover price, and the rise of free online media. Whether or not the musical world feels the loss remains to be seen.
The NME.com website will continue.
“Our move to free print has helped propel the brand to its biggest ever audience on NME.com,” said Paul Cheal, UK MD of Music at Time Inc. (who own the title).
“We have also faced increasing production costs and a very tough print advertising market. It is in the digital space where effort and investment will focus to secure a strong future for this famous brand.”
Obviously they are putting a happy face on this decision.
“Our global digital audience has almost doubled over the past two years,” said Keith Walker, digital director of NME. “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.”