NME’s Big Reads are going digital only, as Variety reports the storied British magazine will no longer publish a print edition. Time Inc. U.K. announced the decision earlier today with a statement from group managing director of music Paul Cheal.
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. 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.
As Britain’s premier music publication, NME (or New Musical Express) covered such iconic acts as the Beatles and David Bowie, tracked the respective rises of glam rock, punk, and every wave of music in between and since, thereby setting the standard for British music journalism. For decades, an NME cover has been a highly-coveted honor for artists, and a feature that readers eagerly picked up and rated.
NME held its own against other music weeklies for nearly 66 years. But as is the case for so many publications these days, print sales have been on a steep decline. The magazine, which began its life as a relaunch of an older British newspaper, Accordion Times and Musical Express, shifted to a free model in 2015. NME posted its highest distribution numbers the following year, but it wasn’t enough to fend off the latest change. According to Variety, the company will launch “new digital services” including two new music channels (NME 1 and NME 2) under the new NME Audio banner to complement the publication’s strong web presence.
There was already a fair amount of upheaval at the publication—Time Inc. U.K. recently sold NME to a private equity firm, and longtime editor Mike Williams resigned in February. The March 9 issue of NME will be the last to hit newsstands.