This week marks the end of NME as we all have known it, with the print edition of the weekly music paper coming to an end. In truth, the writing has been on the wall for a long time. There has of course been the well-reported demise of print media for a long time now, but there are many other publications that have continued to survive and even thrive. So why has the paper that was once the guardian of music within the UK been unable to survive?
A British version of Rolling Stone, NME initially grew up on writers that lived the life as much as the artists they wrote about. These accomplished writers were deep into the scene and the words they wrote were gospel to teenagers across the country. Teenagers that had no other way of finding out what new music was coming out, no streaming services, no social media and no internet. It was a different time and the times changed, NME didn’t.
It grew more digitally aware competition the likes of Noisey, Vice, SBTV, GRM Daily, HYPEBEAST and the list goes on and on. Those that were more in tune with the wave of change from rock music that NME prided itself on, towards hip-hop, R’n’B and grime. The competition understood the nature of content creation, it was making videos, it was uploading social posts and it was moving quicker than once a week. It was talking to a new audience, while NME was still talking to its old audience. That NME audience, it grew up and stopped caring about the newest single and suddenly the trailblazing NME, was playing catch-up and has been ever since.
It has been said that the end of the print edition will mark a new focus on expanding the digital arm of NME. So although this is not the end, it can’t be ignored that this is a major moment for British music press and for those, like me who grew up reading the weekly paper. When I was in High School I was actually published in NME in the letters section, complaining about the music industry releasing bonus CDs weeks after loyal fans had bought the album at release. How times have changed.