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Advertisers all line up for first edition of free NME

By | Published on Friday 18 September 2015


So, the all-new New Musical Express is out now everybody, available to pick up for free from your favourite HMV, Topman, railway station, university or Academy music venue.

And what’s inside? Well, let me tell you. Hunter! L’Oréal! P&G! eBay! Google Play! Universal Pictures! JVC Headphones! Renault! BMW Mini! You did want a list of the advertisers, right? There are a lot to choose from because, says NME publisher Time Inc UK, the first free edition of the music weekly has five times more ads than the corresponding issue last year, generating the most ad revenue for a single edition of the magazine in fifteen years. So, good news for ad fans.

And good news for Time Inc too, given that taking its music title free and ramping up its circulation to 300,000 was all about reinvigorating a brand that had long been flagging in print and boosting ad revenues enough to overcome the loss of newsstand revenues. Enhancing the wider NME brand is also part of the plan, with plenty of editorial in the freebie print edition pointing people to the publication’s online outlets.

Rihanna is the first cover star, demonstrating NME’s “access to the biggest artists in the world” says Time. It’s an interesting choice, and while NME – despite its indie rock core remit – has led with popstars before, it maybe that more mainstream acts now grace the title’s cover more often, in a bid to boost pick up and ensure maximum exposure for the advertisers featured inside.

Given that core NME readers can be hard to please at the best of times, that presents editorial challenges – ie can you pull in a wider readership while retaining your new music credentials (interestingly it’s a challenge Xfm is also about to embark on with its rebrand as Radio X) – though it’s not necessarily an impossible task.

And while a music industry relatively excited about this big relaunch of a classic music media brand might wish for the newer talent it is pushing to be more upfront in the magazine, if a much wider audience is flicking through the title as a result of the cover stars, the new acts championed further in benefit too.

So, interesting times ahead. Can free NME achieve 300,000 pick up, maintain the current level of ad interest, and enhance its online audience by being free in print? Time will tell.