NME have announced that this week’s edition of the magazine will be its last.
On Friday 9th March, the final free print edition of NME will be handed out at colleges, universities and railway stations, as the iconic brand admits defeat to the digital age.
Launching in 1952 as the New Music Express, NME has become one of the UK’s most recognised publications and a cornerstone of British music. With iconic cover stars including Bowie, Clapton, Winehouse, The Strokes, and The Libertines, question marks were posed by hardcore fans as the magazine was relaunched as a free print in 2015, featuring Rihanna on its cover. It was essential for NME to adapt as music consumption habits changed. But as a free print, it has been criticised for various brand partnerships that failed to align with its ethos and the promotion of artists that it would traditionally lament.
The magazine’s publisher Time Inc confirmed the news in a statement: "NME's free weekly print magazine will cease publication. This week's issue of the magazine out on Friday will be the final free print edition."
Time Inc. UK's group managing director for Music, Paul Cheal, added: "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."
"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 the digital space where effort and investment will focus to secure a strong future for this famous brand."
Journalists and artists have taken to Twitter to react to the news, many of whom feel they have been mourning the loss of the music bible since 2015. Vinyl distributors Flying Vinyl summarised those thoughts:
As readers moved to digital media and services like Spotify offered a new way to discover music, falling readership, and ad revenues have killed off many culturally rich magazine titles.
NME has plans to focus on growing its digital presence, with its website, a ticketing service and two new radio stations. As it redevelops, it must be remembered for its service to new music over the years. However, music fans deserve the right to uncover the most exciting artists on a daily basis - we will continue to deliver on that front.