More music media slips into the past: The NME to halt print edition

It’s hard to overstate how important the weekly music magazines used to be in the UK. In the absence of any commercial radio and with the BBC being rather snooty when it came to playing popular music, the weeklies were how people kept up to date with what was going on.

These were powerful publications, too. Because there was no radio to dig up (or tear down) new artists, trends, and sounds, the music weeklies were unbelievable influential. A review (let along a coveted cover story)  could make or break a career.

The New Musical Express (abbreviated to The NME, of course) battled its arch nemesis Melody Maker, Sounds, and a few others. Founded in 1952, The NME was both loved and loathed by musicians, labels, managers and record stores.

By the 90s, it was a two-horse race with The NME going head-to-head with Melody Maker. When the Internet really hit, all the other weeklies folded while The NME eventually subsuming MM.

All British magazines have to deal with the decline of print and the rise of Internet-based music news sites. The NME‘s website was launched in 1997–pretty early in the Internet era–and chalked up some good traffic numbers while maintaining the print edition.

Then a radical shift in September 2015. The NME moved to a free edition every Friday, much like all the other alternative weeklies we see in other cities (NOW, Georgia Straight, LA Weekly, etc.).

However, that did not bring in the required advertising dollars. A plug had to be pulled.

Today (March 7), The NME announced that it was halting the print edition entirely. Publisher Time Inc UK says that due to a tough ad market, this Friday’s edition (March 9) will be the last time The NME will be seen in print after exactly 66 years and two days since vol.1 number 1. .

The NME will not die, however. The publisher says it will now be “focusing investment on further expanding NME’s digital audience”.

Turn, turn, turn, right?

The band Slaves will be the last-ever group on the cover.

Read more at The Guardian.

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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