NME Terminates Print Publications: The Future is Online

Established as the world’s longest standing music platform, NME can no longer sustain their magazine and are ceasing print publications. After launching in 1952, the famous music magazine is focusing on online in an ever-changing digital age. Over the past decade, the print industry has suffered due to the rise in internet and mobile. NME is the most recent brand to turn their back on print, and Business Rescue Expert – leading UK insolvency practitioners – are sharing what NME terminating print publications means for the future.

NME changed the face of print in the music industry, with music royalty gracing every page. Launched initially to appeal to young men, aged between their late teens and early twenties, they significantly increased their readership to 63% male and 37% female.

The magazine experienced huge popularity during the boom of the print industry. At their peak, NME was turning over £1 million in sales revenue each week. With the increase in sales, their subscriber count boosted to 400,000. In response to their success, they launched a website in 1996 to cover more topical areas. However, as mobile began to overtake fixed internet access, NME saw a decline in readership. The rise in smartphone use has directly contributed to the decline in print. In 2015, NME announced their subscribers had significantly dropped to just 15,000.

To combat the loss of subscribers, NME put provisions in place, becoming a free publication in September 2015. Rather than rely on profits through sales, the magazine solely focused on advertising revenue. Subsequently, their subscribers temporarily increased to 300,000. However, due to the rise in news apps and websites, the private equity firm that had acquired NME realised the magazine was no longer financially viable, announcing they are terminating the print edition.

The changing face of print

The print industry has experienced substantial changes due to the rise of the internet and handheld devices. As more readers own smartphones, the need to buy print editions for news is reduced. Today, you can download news apps that also provide notifications should a huge story break. News, articles and more are all accessible from your phone, and newspapers/magazines that have already been sent to print cannot compete with stories in ‘real time’. Similarly, most of these apps are free and, as it’s reported millennials boast less disposable income, they benefit from free, portable news.

In order to compete with free, online platforms, print editions need to offer unique opportunities that cannot be found on websites. For example:

  • Add QR codes that take the reader to a specific app/webpage and offers discounts
  • Include offers and discounts that you can only find in the magazine
  • Produce highly shareable and sought after rich content, not to be made available online

How do online publications gain funding?

As they are moving online, there are several methods NME can gain funding as an online platform. Advertising is the most common, featuring ads on popular articles and at the beginning of video content. If you have ever been reading an article and had an ad popped up, this is advertising revenue. Many online publications have also found paywalls to boost their profits, offering rich content in return for, generally, a one-off payment.

Data collection can also boost revenue for online platforms. For example, if you have ever answered a survey before reading an article, that information will, most likely, have been sold on. Competitions can also generate profits for websites. While they may offer a large prize, you may have to text into a premium rate line to enter.

NME’s recent announcement only reflects the changing and declining print market. However, there is still the opportunity to survive in the digital age. Those the adapt to the developments and changes will be the ones who last.

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