Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

What next for the NME?

How the mighty have fallen. Music fans who grew up with the NME as their weekly magazine fix (once they’d graduated from Smash Hits) may find it hard to believe that the magazine now sells less than 30,000 issues a …

Fri, Aug 26, 2011, 08:44

   

How the mighty have fallen. Music fans who grew up with the NME as their weekly magazine fix (once they’d graduated from Smash Hits) may find it hard to believe that the magazine now sells less than 30,000 issues a week. That’s one-tenth of what it sold during its storied hey-day.

Yet even die-hard readers have long abandoned the title. While the magazine valiantly points to the huge numbers who read the website, the weekly print edition is the NME’s standard-bearer and its demise now appears sadly inevitable.

Too many changes and botched relaunches have scuppered any residual fondness towards the inkie. Even those who loathed the NME with a passion have moved onto other targets like Pitchfork (and probably On the Record).

Of course, the NME isn’t alone in this regard. The majority of print publications are feeling the pinch as readers migrate online. Once upon a time, the NME considered other weeklies like Sounds and Melody Maker to be its rivals. Today, it’s up against a million WordPress blogs or Tumblr pages and there will never be one winner.

The problem for the NME is that the brand it spent decades building up doesn’t have the same cachet online as in print. In the land of plenty that is music coverage on the internet, it’s word of mouth, quality content and editorial integrity rather than the fact that you’ve been around since 1952 which matters most.

The NME squandered a lot of goodwill during the last 15 years when it wasn’t sure what it was supposed to be and, although current editor Kriss Murison has managed to right some of those wrongs of late, the onerous task of refloating the ship may be beyond her powers. The New Morrissey Express is dead, long live the New Morrissey Express.

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