News appeared today the mighty New Musical Express (NME) is to move to a free distribution model in order to boost flagging sales.
According to the BBC, this will boost the readership from a weekly circulation of 15,000 to around 300,000. Of course the move is not without precedent, as Time Out did a similar move a couple of years ago with free distribution on Tuesdays across the capital.
Now the 63 year old music paper, which I read every week from the mid 1990s to the mid 2000s should survive the inevitable collapse of print media that has seen national newspapers and magazines find different ways to diversify and generate a revenue.
In my view this is a great move for the NME. The days of it breaking news on its pages are over as people (including me) go to its website for breaking news, and Twitter and Facebook are there for tour dates and for bands to have a direct communication with fans.
What NME still offers is the interviews and profiles of the new bands that forms its central editorial, while its live and album reviews are what its journalists do best. I had some experience of the atmosphere having spent a week on work experience there in 1998 (biggest bands of the week were Embrace, Unbelievable Truth and Ultrasound, I had the pleasure of meeting some established journalists and rewriting faxed articles).
I really hope this enables the NME to survive as in the USA there is Rolling Stone and while in the UK we have lost Smash Hits, this is one musical institution which I hope will carry on.