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Is it R.I.P for NME ? Future of long-running music magazine hangs in the balance.

There's no doubt it's been a pretty notable week for the music industry across the world. Both print and broadcasting media are reacting and adjusting following the demise of one institution and the beginning of another.

As a teen during Britpop, weekly music magazine the NME was essential reading. Every single Thursday morning I'd pick up my copy, read cover to cover within 24 hours, allowing album reviews to dictate that weekend's musical purchases. The NME introduced me to Blur and Oasis, just like it had previously introduced thousands to Elvis, The Beatles, Joy Division and The Smiths. I'd even read up on the magazine's legacy, learning how John Lennon was a fan, how Morrisey regularly corresponded and how the NME gave legendary photographer Anton Corbijn his big break. At the end of the 90s, NME. com was a revolution, with its online message board and chatroom a meeting place for like minded souls, a musical HQ of sorts. It's yearly showcase tours were also a big deal, bringing then practically unknown acts like Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys and Stereophonics to the masses. When the tour didn't visit Belfast or Dublin, I'd head across the water - at one point attending an NME gig in Glasgow which featured The Killers, Futureheads, Kaiser Chiefs and Bloc Party all on the same bill. What a night that was.

After the turn of the century, the rot gradually set in and in recent times, sales have taken a nose dive. As a result, the NME this week made an announcement which many believe marks the final chapter in the magazine's 63 years. From September, it will be free. Furthermore, its content will broaden out, with the magazine now set to cover fashion, politics, gaming, film and TV. The NME have marked this news as something they're justifiably excited about, claiming they're once again ahead of the curve, finding 'new and inventive ways to connect with the audience'. They would say that, of course, but in reality this feels like the final throw of the dice. It feels inevitable that - with increased control and influence from advertisers - the quality of writing will go down. Inevitably, there'll be a dilution of the magazine's focus, as it attempts to tick numerous boxes which were previously none of its concern. And most worrying of all is the reality that when you pick something up for nothing, it loses its value. Most will have little more than a cursory glance - a mere skim read. Who ever takes a free magazine home? d u e.

So it feels like the end - at least of the NME we know and love. Perhaps it's worth considering how the other mags I used to read religiously back in the day -the likes of Melody Maker and Select - are distant memories. So it's to its credit The NME has survived as long as it has. It's also worth noting that music in itself has changed and so far this century, there's been very little for any music magazine of that nature to find itself excited by. Arctic Monkeys, The Libertines, Kings of Leon and The Killers - it's hard to think of more than a handful of bands who could help drive sales. The same applies to the American equivalent - Rolling Stone who this week have Kim Kardashian on their cover. So yeah, not looking great for them either.

It's a shame. I'm reminded of the time I formed my first band. My dad teased me, shouting up to my room that 'the NME were on the phone'. What would he say these days? 'Pitchfork have just emailed' or 'that popular blogger everyone knows has sent a tweet'.. I can't see it. The mystique of the NME and it's writers has gone. Now the important and most relevant coverage of music comes from a seemingly endless treadmill of bloggers and photographers working solo and remotely. It's just not the same.

Just as a print empire crumbles, broadcast media continues to flourish. This week has also seen the launch of Beats1 - the radio service offered by Apple as part of its new streaming service, set to rival the likes of Spotify. The concept of a worldwide radio station is flawed, of course.

Apple as part of riv r al the likes of worldwide radio What goes dow not transfer w versa. Furthe obligation tra t cks, reg som s e of t from havi tho t ugh, p great to h back b likes huge We on What goes down well in London and LA might not transfer well to, say, Argentina - and vice versa. Furthermore, it's feels there's weird obligations to push certain acts and tracks, regardless of their quality. And some of the presenters are a long way from having proved themselves. Still though, plenty to get excited about. It's great to have Beats1 anchor Zane Lowe back broadcasting and shows from the likes of Disclosure and Nas have been hugely entertaining.

We're at a crossroads, clearly. No one seems to know how this is gdt going to pan out - how we'll be digesting music in 12 months time from now, let alone twenty years. Bands aren't quite sure who ti ye to se to send their music to and - crucially - just how they'll get to pay the bills. But with change comes excitement and opportunity. It feels like year dot and - watching from the sidelines at least - it's pretty fascinating stuff.


ON THE ROCKS?: NME is restrategizing to try and attract new readers

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Title Annotation:Features; Opinion Column
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 10, 2015
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