NME.com will test a paywall on a featured article for the first time later this week, Music Week has learnt.
The site will carry NME magazine’s new cover feature from the issue out this Wednesday (September 25) - but it will only be accessible to those who accept a payment charge. The rest of the site will remain free to read.
The gate will be a beta version and, according to Music Week sources, is a one-off attempt by publisher IPC to gauge web consumer appetite for the music magazine’s content in online form. Some exclusive online "extras" will also be offered to those that pay.
The NME magazine can be accessed as a digital edition through websites such as Amazon's Kindle and Apple’s App Store.
NME.com is an extension of the magazine and currently runs a wealth of free content under sections including news, videos, reviews and blogs.
It is understood to attract more than 8 million unique monthly users.
Launching in 1952 and now owned by IPC Media, the weekly magazine has been hit by dropping circulation in recent years.
The latest figures saw NME’s total average net circulation fall from 23,049 at the end of December 2012 to 20,011 by the end of June 2013. The H1 figure was a 16.4% decline year-on-year with net circulation standing at 23,924 at the end of June 2012.
Back in 1990, circulation stood at 118,257, according to ABC data.
The news comes little over a month after News International placed the entire website of tabloid The Sun behind a paywall.
Estimates suggest it has since lost a third of its audience, although its publishers argue that the site's new setup allows them to collect valuable reader data.
Rival The Mirror - whose site remains free to access - has reportedly seen an audience growth of 20%.