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NME announces revamp, will carry indie record store chart

By | Published on Tuesday 8 October 2013


IPC Media yesterday announced a revamp of its music weekly NME, with the first redesigned edition of the magazine – complete with a David Bowie on its cover – due to hit the newsstands tomorrow.

Although it’s only three years since the last big NME overhaul, these are the first major changes to occur under current editor Mike Williams, who took over the job in June 2012. And the changes, says an IPC statement, involve “a complete reworking of the magazine’s content and a refocusing of the key areas online, including the introduction of a number of new franchises and enhancing the most popular sections of the magazine and website”.

Which, in more practical terms, means a reworked logo, matt paper for the cover, more tablet-friendly print dimensions, more pages for the new-band-championing Radar section with new columns by Dave Sitek and Huw Stephens, more reviews and recommendations, new ‘franchises’ called Soundtrack Of My Life, Anatomy Of An Album and Lost Albums, and a section called From The Vault that will raid the music mag’s archives. Oh, and the NME Guide with gig, telly and radio listings. Good times.

The NME print magazine, of course, has seen its circulation slump in recent years, and previous attempts to reinvigorate the title have mainly failed. Indeed, if the 2010 revamp is anything to go by, the more music industry types welcome and acclaim the overhaul, the more readers the mag is likely to lose.

And it looks likely that music industry types will very much welcome this latest revamp. But, of course, in terms of reach and influence, is now the more important product utilising the legendary music media brand; indeed, online NME enjoys an audience way above anything it ever achieved even at the peak of the print magazine. So it will be most interesting to see how this week’s changes impact on the online side of the operation.

Commenting on the revamp, the aforementioned Williams told CMU: “It’s vitally important that NME continues to push things forward and innovate, and this redesign does exactly that, creating a more dynamic, modern magazine that is heavy on content and depth of delivery whilst refreshing the look and feel of to ensure a superior user experience”.

He added: “The key values of all NME content is that it must be informative, timely, credible, inclusive and above all else, essential. When brought together, these factors ensure that NME is and remains the most definitive music brand in the world. NME is the past, present and future of music and this redesign reasserts that within every new development”.

Meanwhile from the corporate side, IPC Media’s Tracy Cheesman said: “October and the coming months will mark the next exciting chapter in NME’s brand evolution as we unveil a series of developments to the magazine, and a number of new strategic partnerships. On NME, we continually strive to make the brand, its platforms and its services more innovative, engaging and usable than ever before and these developments will firmly re-assert NME as the most definitive brand in music”.

She went on: “NME talks to a global audience of over 3.4 million passionate music fans every week and it’s our mission to super-serve this audience, allowing them to access NME wherever they are. The development team has done an incredible job of re-working the magazine from top to toe and with the new, dynamic aesthetic, come a raft of new opportunities for our advertisers and partners”.

One other innovation in the revamped NME will be the inclusion of the Record Store Chart, the Official Charts Company-compiled music countdown based exclusively on sales at independent record shops, launched last year. Perhaps to remind people that the UK music charts began as an NME feature way back in the day, the music weekly will now include the indie retailer chart, as will Music Week.

Welcoming that particular editorial innovation, Paul Quirk of the Entertainment Retailers’ Association told CMU: “It’s really good that NME are supporting independent record stores by publishing the Official Record Store Chart. Independent record stores have seen good growth this year, with vinyl sales up over 100% and many stores reporting year on year sales increases”.