No-one pays for the albums anymore, why would they pay for the magazine?
After 63 years on our newsstands, the powers that be at juggernaut music mag NME have taken the decision to become a free magazine distributed through train and tube stations, universities, and selected retail partners. NME will also continue to grow its successful online global audience by distributing a free digital edition of the magazine. This approach is predicted to grow the magazine’s distribution from 15,000 to 300,000 in one fell swoop. The magazine, whilst showing modest growth in digital sales (up 6%), had been showing a steep and steady decline in print sales to the tune of 21% year on year. However, NME’s editor Mike Williams dispelled rumours that this was “the last throw of the dice” for the magazine, adding “it’s always been about evolution”, comparing the move to their mid-1990s NME.com launch and huge digital following, gained from early adoption of new technologies and a shifting market. Williams also confirmed that whilst the magazine will change to include broader content, “[they] are going to stand for the same thing, which is discovery and enthusiasm for new music and new film and being a part of the conversation that our audience is having.” However, it’s this change of content rather than the change of price that could spell doom and gloom for the title. By changing the content to include broader music tastes as well as film and fashion, the magazine risks alienating its core indie teenage demographic who won’t be happy with Taylor Swift replacing Morrissey on its pages. With the right strategy, NME could be on the brink of new successes. Staying at the forefront of publishing technology is the only way to ensure that traditional magazines keep up with the force of digital. Luckily, this is something Williams seems to have a handle on, observing that “Every media brand is on a journey to 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 power and influence of digital publishing on traditional print magazines has always been a driving force here at digifi.it. If you’d like to reach new audiences as a digital publication, get in touch with us, or tweet us @digifi_it.