Free copy of the NME anyone?
The NME is now free and distributed.
The New Musical Express, since 1952 has been providing musos up and down the country with their weekly music digest. We love NME, so naturally we’ve been discussing the new format.
Having anticipated the arrival of the free version for some time, we were delighted to get our hands on a copy last Friday. On an industry level, there’s been mixed reviews about content, quality and sustainability of a free model.
We wholeheartedly believe that anything that gets people closer to music is generally a good thing. The question is, has there been a shift to the mainstream in a bid to make content more appealing to the masses and subsequently, to advertisers? Quite possibly so, but come on….we all understand this is the way advertising works. With online content being so widely available, it’s a sign of the times that falling sales of print editions has forced a rethink of the distribution strategy. Used cleverly as a gateway to more in depth, niche content on the website – it feels like an acceptable and justifiable approach.
Some might argue using Rhianna on the front cover goes against the underground nature of the publication. But we believe the decision to use her was a clever one. RiRi’s certainly a household name that everyone can recognise and according to Mike Williams (Editor In Chief) she embodies the personality of NME – both iconic and individual. Featuring a woman on the front cover as opposed to an all male underground prog-rock band immediately positions the new-look NME as an option for everyone.
Content in the main body of the magazine has experienced a few new twists and turns. There are more lifestyle pieces, a slight shift away from pure music and the addition of product reviews. There’s a hilarious new column fronted by comedian Katherine Ryan. In-depth editorial feels a little on the light side – there could be more live reviews. On the other hand, there’s a strong argument in favour of publishing digestible content that today’s millennial generation demand. We live in a time strapped society with attention spans getting close to ADD levels. It is however, still possible to delve deeper – just go online where NME continues to generate substantial content across many content pillars. All the journalism we know and love remains, including an excellent blog.
Regular readers of the online NME will enjoy being able to flick through a print copy. There’s a lot to be said about the physical experience of reading something – not to mention having it in your bag for those moments where we can’t get online, or (pray it never happens) when we leave our phone at home or the battery runs out.
For city dwellers, it almost seems that the Friday slot was waiting for the NME to provide a generous helping of music fodder for the daily commute to work or study. Currently, we have the Metro and Evening Standard daily, accompanied by ES Magazine, Time Out, Stylist and Shortlist for the rest of the week. There’s an abundance of free publications and an ever-growing advertising opportunity for brands to get closer to their respective audiences.
From a targeting perspective, we know the NME is an 16-24yr old audience and this explains the distribution strategy – hand-to-hand at all stations where there’s a whiff of cool, hipster or student. So that rules out Clapham for me, but I guess I’m outside the target demographic. Fear not though, it is still possible to grab the NME at a multitude of pick up points dotted across the country and for those who live in the far recesses of Scotland, there’s a mail order option for just 75p.
So there you go. The free and easy NME. Music journalism brought to your hands every Friday. Read and enjoy. I’m looking forward to picking up issue 2.2 on the way home from work today.
Long may you live.