Goodbye, print edition of The NME.

I wonder how many final copies of The NME will be distributed by Time Inc UK?

The weekly music paper went to a free model in September 2015, increasing circulation up around 300,000. But now that this failed experiment is over, the UK will be without a major music weekly for the first time…well, forever, I guess–or at least since 1926 when Melody Maker first appeared. I’ve put out requests to some of my UK friends in hopes that they’ll be able to snag one.

And is it just me or has there been zero mention of the end of the print run at

So what went wrong? Why did The NME fail? (Apologies in advance for the self-referential link.)

When news hit on March 7 that NME was axing its print edition after 66 years, there was an outpouring of emotion across the internet. Among readers, journalists and musicians, there was genuine sadness about the music magazine’s demise, but also frustration that the once-revered title had in recent years lost its way.

It’s tempting to conclude that any weekly music magazine is doomed to failure in the era of social media and streaming wars, as these technologies have marked a shift in the way people consume and discuss music, and in how musicians connect to their fans. However, the success of Kerrang!, which is now the only remaining British music weekly title, proves that there is more to the story. So why did NME fail while Kerrang! still thrives?

NME magazine launched in 1952 and at its height was the pride of Britain’s music press. Its journalism was bold and forward-thinking, which is what made it so beloved of fans and performers for many decades. Jackie Collins, a musician from the Missy Nelson Band, laments its closure. “We get NME every week and it’s irreplaceable,” she says. “It increased my musical knowledge tenfold over the years and introduced us to so many performers.”

Other commentators felt that the closure of the print magazine was inevitable (the title will continue online). “NME did everything it could to keep the print edition alive, but its end is sadly inevitable,” says broadcaster and media consultant Alan Cross. “When paid circulation dropped below 20,000, it was bad. And when they went to the free model in September 2015, you had the feeling that it was circling the drain. In the old days of print music media, the pages were filled with ads from record labels. When music sales cratered, that revenue lifeline dried up. Whether NME can make a successful transition to an all-online entity remains to be seen.”

Read more here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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