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NME and Uncut sold to former Rolling Stone owner

By | Published on Friday 17 May 2019


TI Media – the company that used to be called Time Inc UK – has announced it is selling its two music titles, NME and Uncut, to BandLab Technologies, the Singapore-based business that previously owned half of Rolling Stone.

According to TI Media, BandLab has “pioneered a rapidly expanding social music creation platform and is acquiring NME and Uncut as part of its mission to grow out a major global music media business”. NME and Uncut will slot into BandLab’s media division alongside and MusicTech.

Confirming the deal, BandLab boss Meng Kuok said: “We are very excited to welcome NME and Uncut to the BandLab Technologies family. These brands occupy a treasured place in the UK music landscape and increasing relevance to the global music scene, which we are looking to enhance and extend. These two media brands will play an important role in continuing our vision to create a connected world of music. We’re especially pleased to be welcoming an experienced and knowledgeable editorial and commercial staff, to deliver cutting-edge and opinion-driven content for music lovers everywhere”.

Speaking for TI Media, its CEO Marcus Rich added: “NME and Uncut will always have a special place in our story. Their reputation for stand-out, award-winning journalism spanning seven decades goes well beyond the world of music and I’m proud they’ve attained that status as part of our company. At the same time, we need to recognise that to achieve the next stage of their evolution, NME and Uncut will be better placed with a business that has music at its heart. Under BandLab Technologies’ ambitious ownership and direction, I’m confident both of these truly iconic brands will thrive”.

It’s no secret that most traditional music magazines have struggled commercially as readers have shifted online, where generally consumers expect music journalism to be free, but where Google and Facebook take a significant portion of the available advertising spend. NME, with its younger readership, faced the challenges first, ultimately dumping its print edition and pushing into branded content in a bid to generate more money online.

But some reckon there remain untapped opportunities for music media online, including BandLab. It previously took a stake in another legacy music title that was struggling in the digital space, buying just under half of Rolling Stone. Though when Penske Media Corporation later bought the other half, BandLab subsequently sold on its share in the US music title.

Back in the UK, TI Media’s statement confirming the sale of NME and Uncut this morning said that it anticipated that all staff currently working on the titles “will transfer with the sale and will continue to be based in the Blue Fin Building, London”. It added: “There will be no interruption to Uncut’s publishing schedule”.

Get up to speed with the recent history of the NME in this edition of CMU’s Setlist podcast.