NME has announced that this week’s issue (Friday 9 March) will be its final print edition, as it attempts to expand its digital audience.
NME was launched as the New Musical Express in 1952 and began its 66-year career as one of the UK’s most recognisable music publications, featuring iconic artists on its cover including Oasis, Bowie, Amy Winehouse, The Libertines and The Strokes.
The free NME launched on 18 September 2015 and featured Rihanna on its cover. It has been handed out to commuters and students around the UK on a weekly basis since.
Time Inc confirmed in a statement: “NME’s free weekly print magazine will cease publication. This week’s issue of the magazine out on Friday will be the final free print edition.”
Paul Cheal, Time Inc UK’s group managing director for Music, added: “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 the digital space where effort and investment will focus to secure a strong future for this famous brand.”
Readers and music journalists on Twitter reacted to the news, with many calling it the “end of an era”.
NME will focus on growing its digital platforms, a spokesperson said, which will include the website, its ticketing service, new music marketplace PledgeMusic, and two new radio stations.
Keith Walker, digital director of NME, said: “With these new developments, we are giving consumers even more of what they want from us. By making the digital platforms our core focus, we can accelerate the amazing growth we’ve seen and reach more people than ever before on the devices they’re most naturally using.”