NME, Iconic British Music Publication, Ends Print Era
The iconic British music publication NME has appeared for the last time in its print edition, owners Time Inc. announced today. The title is to continue as an online-only outlet, 66 years to the day after it began as a music newspaper called The New Musical Express on March 7, 1952.
Frequently outspoken and at odds with many of its readers' opinions, NME nevertheless generated a reputation for being a place to find new music during the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. The weekly title gradually transformed from a newspaper into a magazine, changing from newsprint to glossy paper in 1998. Writers including Tony Parsons, Paul Morley and Julie Burchill achieved notoriety in its pages. After launching an online edition in 1996, the print version became free in 2015 and achieved a peak circulation of 307,217 copies in February 2016. The latest editor-in-chief, Mike Williams, left the company last month.
“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,” said Paul Cheal, Time Inc. U.K. music group managing director. “The print reinvention has helped us to attract a range of cover stars that the previous paid-for magazine could only have dreamed of. 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.”
The company added that “redundancies are planned” but that “every effort” would be made to relocate staff to “other roles within the business.” Along with expanding their online offerings, special print editions were expected to appear on occasion, including a new archive series titled NME Gold.
Meanwhile, the new owners of the Chicago rock radio station WLUP-FM – better known as the Loop – have announced a change of formats to Christian music on March 10. The station ends a 41-year history of broadcasting rock with an irreverent attitude, which had been at risk since previous owners Merlin Media put the station up for sale, and Cumulus Media backed out of a deal to save the rock format as a result of bankruptcy.
“If you grew up in Chicago in the late ’70s, ’80s or ’90s, the Loop was your radio station," Steve Dahl, whose career began on WLUP, told the Chicago Tribune. "We were all in our twenties back when we started it … and the music and the community helped an entire generation of Chicagoans define who they are today.”
The staff was dismissed yesterday, and the station will broadcast automated music until the change, when new owners the Educational Media Foundation will introduce the K-LOVE format.