Struggling NME magazine is to be given away for free


The NME will be distributed for free from today in what the editor says is an essential move that will strengthen its brand.

The music lovers' bible has been selling about 15,000 copies a week - but from today some 300,000 copies will be distributed in more than 500 locations in Britain.

Editor Mike Williams said: "Ultimately it's up to all media industries, whether that's the music industry or the publishing industry, to react and change".

"People's habits have moved to consuming their content digitally, so for us it was an incredible opportunity to really put the print product at the centre of the brand again, and to really increase our audience".

Rihanna is the first cover star and hard core fans are already complaining the NME has gone too mainstream.

Mark Ellen credits the paper with launching his career before he went on to be a music magazine editor. The author and broadcaster said: "If you're distributing it to that many people you have to cover the commercial waterfront".

"So you have to put Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber on the cover as well as what we used to call the rock underground, and in a sense that dilutes your own character".

Distribution and collection points for NME - Ireland looks a bit bleak | Image: NME

At its peak, NME was the go-to place for music, with considerable power and influence, but thanks to the internet and streaming services, among other things, those days are gone.

However, its history means everyone has an opinion on its future.

Rolling Stones star Ronnie Wood says: "It's always good to see that magazine around and if it's going free I hope they can afford to do that".

Journalist Piers Morgan also chipped in, saying: "These kids are so tech savvy that you get music, television and movies without having to pay too much money for them. It may not be the right thing but it's happening".

Singer Sam Smith said: "The way things are going, yes, it's all becoming digital but that's great people can get it for free".

And former Beatle Ringo Starr said: "They're not really reading papers anymore, it's all on your iPhone, your iPad, it's all there when you want it".

Back to top