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NME: (It’s Good) to be Free?

After much speculation, NME magazine has called Time Out and added itself to the Shortlist, announcing that it will become a free publication from September this year.

The move will see the circulation jump from just over 15,000 to 300,000 copies nationally through commuter train stations, universities and retail partners.

In the most recent ABC circulation figures, NME experienced a 23% year-on-year decline from 18,184 to 15,384 copies (1,389 of which were digital).

Editor of NME Mike Williams said: “NME is already a major player and massive influencer in the music space, but with this transformation we’ll be bigger, stronger and more influential than ever before. Every media brand is on a journey into a digital future. That doesn’t mean leaving print behind, but it does mean that print has to change, so I’m incredibly excited by the role it will now play as part of the new NME. The future is an exciting place, and NME just kicked the door down”.

As Williams sort of alludes to above, the magazine will continue to cover music but will also cover other areas including film, fashion, technology and gaming in addition to expanding its live activities and rebranding the NME website.

Marcus Rich, CEO of NME publisher Time Inc. UK added: “This famous 63 year-old brand was an early leader in digital and has been growing its global audience successfully for the best part of 20 years. It has been able to do so because music is such an important passion and now is the right time to invest in bringing NME to an even bigger community for our commercial partners”.

Ah, those pesky “commercial partners”- presumably part of the reason that NME is going free in the first place, though the circulation figures were only pointing one way for some time. The Gen only hopes that a similar fate doesn’t befall beloved music weekly Melody Maker.

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