The announcement was made this week that today, Friday 9th March will see the last issue of the NME go to print.
It is a truth universally acknowledged in the print industry that sales are declining as information becomes more accessible via online means. In 2015, NME acknowledged this shift by transgressing into a free weekly, in order to reverse its decline in readership.
This served a dual purpose; it increased traffic flow to the more widely read website, and worked to redefine the brand in a bid to tap into a wider, less niche demographic.
Unfortunately, this faced a large scale backlash as many of the publication’s loyal readers suggested that this shift was to the detriment of the publication’s quality.
Though the movement to a free weekly dramatically increased readership, the costly nature of print rendered the practice unsustainable. But with so much change to the brand, this begs the question – is the discontinuation of the regular print edition the end of the NME era, or simply a landmark of a wider movement towards a universally digital content feed?
Given that the publication was birthed in 1952 and reached circulation heights of 306,881 in 1964, which then dropped to around 15,000 in 2014, the future for the once most widely read music publication seems to be in limbo.
The closure of the print edition of the magazine was a sad inevitability that exemplifies that state of contemporary journalism – marked notably by the closure of publications including Nuts and Loaded, proving that even sex no longer sells.
Keith Walker, Digital Director of NME suggests that, ‘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.’
In 66 years of the New Musical Express, readers have been granted access to the intricate exclusivities of the music industry, through the publication which was insightful enough to include icons like John Lennon and Marc Bolan in its readership.
Pioneering punk, indie and new wave, The NME has been notoriously present in discussions about music discovery and value – asserting opinions that have landed it on the wrong side of many prolific artists from the Gallaghers to Ed Sheeran.
However, like many of us nostalgic for the golden era of music wherein instruments were given the respect that they deserve, and lyrics painted both sordid and elating pictures of a universally relatable reality, musicians are mourning the loss of the industry spokesman in its organic form.
Liam Gallagher tweeted, ‘Just heard about NME no longer in print as much as I had my ups and downs with them I always kept an eye on things through them’, reiterating a feeling of loss of insight that resonates deeply.
We hope that this shift in platform is positive for the publication, and merely a sad but necessary step towards moving with the ever evolving structure of the media.
Words: Amy Cully Steele & Georgia Kirk