Time Inc. UK has today (March 7) announced this week’s issue of NME will be the final free print edition. The news comes alongside the announcement of a raft of new initiatives, as the brand focuses investment on further expanding NME’s digital audience.
Speaking about the new strategy, Paul Cheal, Time Inc. UK group managing director, Music, said: “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. The print re-invention has helped us to attract a range of cover stars that the previous paid-for magazine could only have dreamed of.
“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 in the digital space where effort and investment will focus to secure a strong future for this famous brand.”
Mike Williams stepped down as editor of NME at the end of February.
Music Week approached Time Inc for comment as to how this will affect the current staff and was issued the following statement:
"We have entered into a consultation process with staff about the proposed closure of the NME print edition and unfortunately redundancies are planned. For those at risk, we will be making every effort to find alternative roles within the business. As we are currently in consultation with staff it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time."
As part of NME’s digital expansion, it is launching a number of new services. NME Audio will comprise of two new music channels – NME 1 and NME 2 – and is available on Regional DAB, the TuneIn App and on NME.COM. NME 1 will champion new talent on NME’s radar and NME 2 will feature a range of artists and NME classics.
In addition, the brand will launch a new weekly franchise, The Big Read, on NME.COM, replacing the weekly cover star interview. This in-depth feature will also be the lead item in a weekly curation of NME.COM’s biggest stories available in the App Store.
Keith Walker, digital director of NME, said: “NME has been at the digital forefront for more than two decades. Our global digital audience has almost doubled over the past two years. With these new developments, we are giving consumers even more of what they want from us. 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.”
Additional digital developments for NME include enhancements to its ticketing service and membership offering, as well as to its platform for supporting new talent, NME Emerging, through a partnership with fan and artist marketplace PledgeMusic.
NME have confirmed that it will continue to publish special issues in print, such as its new paid-for series NME Gold. NME will also be exploring other print opportunities.
To read Music Week's 2016 Big Interview with Williams, click here.