The Guardian reports that the NME is to be given away free around the UK with an expected print run of 300,000. It currently has a circulation of just over 15,000. Meanwhile over at the NME itself they assure us that music is 'firmly at the heart of the brand'. Have you spotted one of the major problems yet? I must admit that I stopped buying the paper religiously back in 1988 or so but back in the seventies and early eighties it really was the first port of call every Wednesday for music news and interviews as well as the amazing photographers (eg Chalkie Davies and Anton Corbijn) whose work was featured inside. For me its glory days were from 1974 to just before punk hit the mainstream in 1977. Writers such as Nick Kent, Charles Shaar-Murray, Mick Farren, Roy Carr and the late Ian MacDonald amongst many others really were in a class of their own. Though I must admit that I found the writing style of Ian Penman and Paul Morley a little bit high falutin' back in the early eighties (and I certainly still run a mile as soon as someone mentions Derrida) in retrospect I will concede that it mostly worked in relation to the arty post punk of the time. However on the few occasions that I have read a copy in recent years or indeed gone online to nme.com it was just so underwhelming. As a friend of mine who wrote for them just posted on Facebook:
'Obviously I can't be too sneery about the NME. Putting Pere Ubu on the cover wouldn't necessarily have arrested the decline in sales. I think you'd need to go back in time and prevent an awful lot of people from being born in order to save it and most of them would have been in publishing and marketing, not in editorial. The fleas had started wagging the dog long before I got there. And Sly Bailey did more to fuck it than
ever did. Maybe, just maybe, this gives them an opportunity to inhabit a world where they don't have to put Noel fucking Gallagher on the cover ever again. I really hope it does well. But I'm not what you'd call an optimist, am I?'
Will it survive?
Me? I give it six months (a year at the very maximum)
Remember it this way instead