Iconic UK music magazine NME is going to print the final edition of its weekly music magazine on Friday, its publisher has announced.
The publication is going to focus on its online offering instead, and plans to launch “several digital services” to expand its audience.
NME, which has been in print for 66 years, became a free weekly publication in 2015 – and was handed out at train stations, universities and shops across the UK.
But Time, the magazine’s owner, said it was “no longer financially viable” to run a print edition. Before becoming free, NME had a cover price of £2.50.
The refreshed digital strategy includes the launch of NME Audio, a regional DAB radio brand comprising the stations NME 1 and NME 2. NME 1 has been handed the remit to ‘champion new talent’, while its sister station will play out ‘a range of artists and NME classics’.
Additionally NME.com will digitally publish The Big Read – a replacement for the mag’s weekly cover star interview. It also has plans for ‘enhancements’ to its ticketing service membership offering and new talent platform, NME Emerging.
Paul Cheal, the group’s managing director of music, said: “NME is one of the most iconic brands in British media and our move to free print has helped to propel the brand to its biggest ever audience on NME.com.
“The print re-invention has helped us to attract a range of cover stars that the previous paid-for magazine could only have dreamed of.
“At the same time, we have also faced increasing production costs and a very tough print advertising market.
“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.”
NME’s website launched 21 years ago, and it has a social media reach of 200 million a month.
The company still plans to publish special issues in print, such as NME Gold, and will explore ‘other opportunities to bring its best in class music journalism to market in print’.