New Musical Express Generic NME magazines
The managing director of Time UK, which owns NME, said the magazine 'faced increasing production costs and a very tough print advertising market'

NME, the UK music magazine that helped chart the rise and fall of bands from The Beatles to Blur, will cease print publication this week and move online only.

The magazine, which dates back to 1952, was a cultural bible for teenagers and had clout that could propel rock, punk and indie bands into the charts with front cover features.

However, its influence has waned since the 1990s with the rise of online and specialist titles. Circulation fell to 15,000 a week, while rival music magazines including Melody Maker and Sounds closed.

NME was published as a relaunch of the “Accordion Times and Musical Express”. The first edition debated the “danceability of Dixieland” jazz. The launch of the UK singles charts that year brought the magazine to a wider audience and it hit a peak in the mid-1960s when The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who played at its annual concerts.

By the 1970s, the magazine earned a more subversive reputation chronicling the rise of punk. It is name-checked by The Sex Pistols in the song Anarchy in the UK.

In 2015, it was relaunched as a free sheet that was more focused on mainstream pop. This boosted its circulation to 290,000 by the end of 2017, according to official statistics, but was not enough to save it.

The decision to end the print edition comes only weeks after the UK business of Time, which also publishes Marie Claire and Country Life, was sold to private equity firm Epiris.

Time UK group managing director Paul Cheal said that NME “faced increasing production costs and a very tough print advertising market”. Redundancies are planned.

“Unfortunately we have now reached a point where the free weekly magazine is no longer financially viable. It is in the digital space where effort and investment will focus to secure a strong future for this famous brand,” he said.

The NME website will survive and the brand will also be used for radio stations. Special paid-for print editions will also be published under the NME Gold brand.

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