So it’s finally happened. After year-on-year fall in readership, NME Magazine—which has been running for over 62 years and is one of the remaining bastions of printed British music journalism—will be given away for free.
The news, which has been mulled over through the medium of have-they-havent-they news-stories for the last few months, was announced today. In a statement on NME.com, the magazine's editor, Mike Williams, said the "brilliant new free weekly magazine will reach more than 300,000 people each week" and will "bring you closer to the stories that you care most about".
The thing is: It’s been a long time coming. ABC figures released early February announced the paper’s readership had fallen to 15,384—a far cry from the magazine’s heyday of print dominance. But while detractors will be quick to gleefully pontificate on the magazine’s transition to hand out publication—bleating about "LOL" a gratis cover-price being "too over-priced"—the decision to move away from a paid print edition could, ultimately, be the saving grace for the magazine and lease it some new life.
A paid magazine needs a cover star that can shift copies and keep the readership in check, but with a free magazine that could change. The readership remains because copies continue to be circulated. So all those Kasabian, Arctic Monkeys, and retrospective covers from the past few years—presumably created in the hope of maintaining an advertisement-aiding readership—should hopefully disappear. This is the beginning of a new era for the magazine. Let's hold a glass to it's future.
The new-look free NME launches on September 18.