The NME has confirmed, or admitted, that it is going to turn into a freesheet. It's a move that seems to be mashed up in some nonsense:
NME has today announced a major brand transformation.You could see this as an announcement that, from September, NME will become a logo.
As well as a new look NME.COM and new digital products, in September the famous NME weekly magazine will go free, with more than 300k copies distributed nationally through stations, universities and retail partners.
A statement to the media confirmed that music is "firmly at the heart of the brand" but there will also be "film, fashion, television, politics, gaming and technology".
The statement goes on to say that "NME will dramatically increase its content output and range, with new original as well as curated content appearing across all platforms, including print. Other highlights will include an expansion in live events, more video franchises and greater engagement with users on new social platforms".
The idea of the magazine doing more than just cover music is interesting - obviously, it did that sort of thing very well back when it was about 75p a week, until people further up Kings Reach Tower saw what they were doing and locked them back down to just music. But we'll wait and see what they actually mean before we get too excited. I'm not expecting many 'Pat Kane on the semiotics of chocolate' style pieces laying around in a pile on the counters of Superdry.
Ben Cardew, who writes for the NME currently, isn't entirely convinced the magazine can pull off the trick:
The new, free NME faces significant challenges to reinvent itself as a musical gatekeeper for the digitally-enabled mass market. But the wave of emotion online – both positive and negative – in response to the news that it was going free shows that the magazine does at least continue to occupy a particular place in the British musical heart.It feels like a radical change; much more radical than anything that's happened to the magazine since it abandoned newsprint. The first question is 'where will these magazines be available from'? The second is 'have they left it too late for this move?' The third is 'are they just going to be chasing the same advertising as the free Time Out with a similar sounding product'?
Then again, so did Smash Hits. And we know what happened there…
The fourth is: what is this doesn't work?