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The New Musical Express is Going from “Paid” to “Free” (And, Er, With Less Music)

The New Musical Express–the NME to longtimers–has been covering music in the UK, Ireland and beyond for sixty-three years. But things have been better.

At one point, each issue sold in the hundreds of thousands when it came out on Friday. With the rise of the Internet, weekly circulation has slumped to about 15,000. This is unsustainable. Therefore, the NME is going to embark on a reinvention. Part of that includes cutting the cover price to–wait for it–zero.  A copy of the new NME will cost as much as any other alternative/music weekly handed out around the world.

The first free NME will hit the streets, tube stops, train stations and universities on September 18. The publisher is hoping to increase reach to 300,000 copies every week. And there will be less music in its pages.

Um, what?

Yep. I quote from The Independent:

Music will be downgraded in the new offering, which will be a “gateway into a wider conversation around film, fashion, television, politics, gaming and technology.”

NME will “dramatically increase its content output and range, with new original as well as curated content appearing across all platforms, including print,” the publishers said.” Other highlights will include an expansion in “live events, more video franchises and greater engagement with users on new social platforms. NME, which has a partnership with the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, will expand its “global footprint.”

Oh, dear. Just like Rolling Stone has devolved into a “lifestyle” magazine, so shall the NME.  Read the full story 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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