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Behind NME Lines

With the news that NME’s print title is to close down after 66 years and pursue a “digital first” strategy, we reflect on the title’s legacy and its importance to the industry and wider music community.     

For many, it is surprising this hadn’t already happened. Prior to becoming a Time Out style free title in 2015, NME’s circulation figures had plummeted to less than 15,000. The magazine battled on but was quite far from its glory days, featuring quite a lot of advertising for hair products.

This doesn’t change the fact that in a pre-digital era, the NME was an absolute lifeline for many music fans, a weekly portal into alternative music, with opinionated and passionate writers and coverage of the latest exciting bands. It was worth the inky fingers.

It seems especially harsh and unceremonious that the current staff were not given the chance to produce a final edition and say goodbye, but the writing was arguably on the wall, with Editor Mike Williams recently stepping down following a reported £130m deal in which private equity company bought NME publisher Time Inc UK. Presumably, running a free magazine was not high on their list of priorities.

The NME brand will live on through digital, radio and an occasional series called NME Gold but a publication that was at one time a fantastic gatekeeper for exciting and new music is no longer. RIP.

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