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NME announces return to print

By | Published on Friday 21 July 2023

NME Magazine

NME has announced plans to revive its print edition, just over five years after ditching it in order to “expand [a] digital-first strategy”. Although, rather than being a weekly fixture like in the past, the new print version will be published six times a year.

“Print has always been a cornerstone of the NME brand and we are THRILLED to announce the return of an icon”, says NME Networks’ Chief Operating & Commercial Officer Holly Bishop. “Our new global magazine will curate the very best of NME; championing emerging artists and bands and serving as the definitive voice in pop culture”.

This is all a far cry from March 2018, when it was announced that “increasing production costs and a very tough print advertising market” meant that NME had “reached a point where the free weekly magazine is no longer financially viable”.

The printed NME magazine wasn’t always free, of course. However, in its last iteration, from 2015, it became a freesheet dished out on the streets and via record shops.

The fifteen years prior to that had seen sales of the paid for magazine slide in the face of competition from online media – including the NME’s own pretty successful website – which meant the reinvention as a free title massively boosted circulation. However, that expanded reach didn’t result in enough ad sales to keep the thing running.

Just over a year after going digital-only, NME was then bought by Bandlab, which subsequently rebranded the media side of its business as NME Networks, with the parent company taking the name Caldecott Music Group.

Under the new owner a monthly print edition was launched in Australia in 2020. And when that happened, Bandlab insisted in its official statements that – whatever the magazine’s previous owner may have said – the UK print edition of NME was simply “on hiatus”. The Australian print edition then ceased publishing at the start of this year, with a spokesperson telling Mumbrella that that was because of “new developments ahead for our global print strategy”.

This week’s announcement is seemingly the implementation of that very strategy, because the relaunched magazine will be available globally.

It will be mainly sold via Dawsons, the musical instrument retailer which was acquired by another Caldecott subsidiary – Vista Musical Instruments – last month. It is busy relaunching the retail brand which went into administration in 2021, and the NME tie-up is presumably part of that.

Though, in addition to distribution via its sister company, the all new print NME will also be made available “via artists, record stores and select partners”.

Commenting on all this, Bandlab founder and NME Networks CEO Meng Ru Kuok says: “Building on our commitment to supporting the new talent shaping the future of music and the industry itself, we are prouder than ever to showcase and immortalise emerging artists in our new global edition”.

“NME has never reached more people than it does today”, he says, talking up the brand’s online operations. “We’re excited to embrace our legacy, giving emerging artists the recognition and exposure they truly deserve while creating new synergies and opportunities for both talent and fans”.

The first edition will be available to order from Dawson from 9 Aug.