Monday, 6 July 2015
New Musical Express
Does anyone care?
Not many according to the circulation figures reported by The Guardian earlier on this year - under 15,000 a week....and falling.
Moving forward, today we were greeted with the news that the NME will print 300,000 copies a week...we'll see how long that lasts.
Going free is the last chance to revive a once proud and vital publication that I used to scour over for all the latest news, reviews and interviews.
I probably stopped buying it regularly 15-years ago. It ceased to become relevant when the NME started to need bands for sales, much more than the bands needed the NME.
The steady decline in journalism seemed to be matched by a fall in new bands breaking through with the NEW Musical Express increasingly publishing features on bands and artists from the past to boost sales. Did no-one care about new bands? Or were they just getting all they needed to know online?
As a teenager and well into my 20's I would buy the NME and the Melody Maker religiously every week. What was going on with Nirvana, would the Stone Roses ever release anything again, which bands were releasing singles that week, was Richey Manic alive, what had Noel and Liam been up to? Nowadays I can get all the info I need about a band instantly - there are few exclusives these days.
Back in the 1990's you had to buy the NME or the Melody Maker, or you had to listen to Peel or the Evening Session to find out what was going on in the UK music scene. You would buy singles and albums on the strength of reviews as you couldn't just go on to YouTube to check something out. You built up a trust for certain journalists, admiring their taste, knowledge and writing skills.
It is all, almost sadly for the music industry, far too easy for kids to check out bands and artists now. A simple click is all it takes. The joy of reading an article and saving to buy a new 7-inch or album, the anticipation....it is all gone.
Is music too readily available?
There is nothing wrong with things being readily available in the modern world - maybe there is just too much of it that is readily available.
But back to the NME.
Quality journalism is always something that people will search for - in print or online. Websites like Drowned In Sound and Pitchfork are thriving; people know they will get quality news, reviews and opinions.
They, along with many others, are setting standards that the NME need to reach and surpass. The NME is currently equivalent to Smash Hits and has a lot of work to do.
The teenage me genuinely hopes that the NME will continue to exist, but it needs a complete makeover. Going free won't do it alone.