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NME – Case study (Sourced and summarised from Wikipedia) NME (The New Musical Express) has been published weekly since March 1952. It was originally in tabloid newspaper format and was the first British paper to include a singles chart, in November 1952. IPC bought the magazine in 1963. It became the best-selling British music magazine in the 1970s. With its bland, showbiz style, it was on the verge of closure in 1972 but within 12 months, it was outstripping its rivals (selling 300,000 copies per week in 1973). NME has always promoted new British groups. In the 60s they included The Beatles and Rolling Stones.


Punk arrived in Britain in 1976 and NME recruited new ‘hip young gunslingers’, Tony Parsons and Julie Burchill who championed punk and rejuvenated the magazine. The paper also became more openly political during the time of Punk. Its cover would sometimes feature youth-oriented issues rather than a musical act. The paper took an editorial stance against political parties like the National Front. The election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979 saw the paper take a broadly socialist stance for much of the following decade. Throughout the 80s and 90s, it continued to experience successes and near closure as it tried to keep pace with 1981 popular musical trends and audience tastes. In 2000, NME merged with its failing competitor, Melody Maker but, as a weekly paper, it was still struggling. It tried to broaden its coverage of different genres, hip hop, R&B and even Hear’say but its core readership were not impressed and so it went back to its roots and reasserted its position as an influence in new music and helping to establish new bands such as The Stokes and The White Stripes, Franz Ferdinand, the Kaiser Chiefs and the Arctic Monkeys. From the issue of March 21, 1998 onwards, the paper has no longer been printed on newsprint, and more recently it has shifted to tabloid size: it has full, glossy, colour covers and has developed into more of a magazine format.


In May 2008 the magazine received a re-design and was aimed at an older readership with a less poppy, more authoritative tone. The first issue of the re-design featured a free seveninch Coldplay vinyl single. After the 2008 NME Award nominations, Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian criticised the magazine's lack of diversity, saying:


"NME bands" fall within very narrow parameters. In the 80s, the paper prided itself on its coverage of hip hop, R&B and the emerging dance scene which it took seriously and featured prominently - alongside the usual Peel-endorsed indie fare. Now, though, its range of approved bands has dramatically shrunk to a strand embodied by the [Arctic] Monkeys, Babyshambles and Muse - bands who you don't need specialist knowledge to write about and who are just "indie" enough to make readers feel they're part of a club. Like everything else in publishing, this particular direction must be in response to reader demand, but it doesn't half make for a self-limiting magazine.”

In 1996, the NME started its website NME.COM with a focus on music news. In November 1999 the site hosted the UK's first webcast of Suede, 'Live In Japan'. In 2001 the site gave away a free mp3 of The Strokes debut single 'Last Nite' a week before its release. The site rallied around The Libertines after their debut single 'What A Waster' dropped from playlists due to its profanity - giving away the single as a free mp3 download. The website was awarded Online Magazine Of The Year in 1999 and 2001. In 2004, Ben Perreau joined NME.COM as the website's third editor. He relaunched and redeveloped the title in September 2005 and the focused more on video, audio and the wider music community. It was awarded 'Best Music Website' at the Record Of The Day awards in October 2005. In 2006 NME.COM celebrated with a party at London's KOKO featuring Leicester band Kasabian and was subsequently awarded the BT Digital Music Award for Best Music Magazine and the first 'Chairman's Award' from the Association of Online Publishers awarded by the Chairman, Simon Waldman in recognition of its pioneering role in its ten year history. In 2007 NME.COM was launched in the USA with additional staff and plans to launch its Breaking Bands contest and the NME Awards across the Atlantic. The site now provides news, photos, video, blogs, reviews, gig listings and videos as well as featuring downloads, merchandising and message boards. The Website over the last year has shifted its focus to also include tabloid gossip alongside its traditional music news, with regular news articles entitled "Daily Ligger" and "Tabloid Hell". has won lots of awards including the BT Digital Music Award for Best Music Magazine (2008) and the PPA Interactive Consumer Magazine of the Year (Periodical Publishers Association) (2009). According to the latest traffic figures, NME.COM now has 3.5 million monthly unique users (ABCe, June 2008), making it one of the largest magazine websites in the UK. Ex-Editor, Conor McNicholas believes that selling ‘Brand NME’ is the key to its survival. It attracts publicity through its annual Cool List and gets out to a core teenage and student audience through its NME club nights and online radio. In 2007, a seven-inch single by the White Stripes was included as a cover-mount freebie. Most readers don’t own record players but the publishers did it believing it would become a classic pop culture artefact. (McNicholas left NME to join TopGear in June 2009). April 2010: NME relaunched promoting its long history with features from its archive whilst also showing that it could keep pace with today’s trends. It changed its masthead slightly and attracted a lot of publicity.

Feb 2011: NME is only music or film magazine to report double-digit year-on-year fall. Circulation is now only just above the 30,000 mark. Bauer's Kerrang! leapfrogged Metal Hammer to take fifth spot with a respectable 4.5% uplift in year-on-year circulation to 42,967. The title fell 2.4% period on period. Channelfly Enterprises' free music monthly The Fly remained the music sector leader with an average distribution of 107,771, down 4% year on year and 3.4% period on period.

NME – The bare facts Vertical integration Time Warner (the parent media conglomerate) own companies in both the production and distribution sector of the UK Magazine industry – IPC and MarketForce. This is an example of VERTICAL INTEGRATION. Globalisation Although Time Warner is a multinational conglomerate, the NME is only published in the UK. This shows that global media businesses still target national audiences in their search for profits. Competition UK’s longest, most successful weekly music magazine (est. 1952) Merged with Melody Maker in 2000 In competition with Kerrang (Bauer’s weekly music magazine) Cross media convergence (or cross media ownership) The NME brand benefits from SYNERGIES deriving from shared cross media ownership – NME TV, NME Radio, as well as an internet presence, text alerts, Facebook and MySpace pages, NME on Zinio, festivals, tours, merchandising, compilation albums, ringtones, archive/back catalogue, ticket sales, ads in other IPC publications). Only a big media conglomerate can afford to develop brands across such a range of media. NME Monthly revenue streams Circulation - £135,000 (£270,000 but 50% to distributors, wholesalers and retail outlets) Magazine Advertising - £200,000 Internet Advertising - £170,000 and rising Target Audience Males 71%, 17 – 30 years, ABC1’s 65%, 31% students They are gadgets guys (so good place to advertise technology), obsessed with music, love films. Fans find NME trustworthy, full of facts and honest (so good reading context for advertisers) Examples of brands consumed as indicated on Media Pack include: clothes – Fred Perry; alcohol – Jack Daniels, bottled lagers; technology – mobiles, Sony Vaio laptops Technological convergence First wave – the change from analogue to digital and the birth of the internet. Second wave – Web 2.0. These coincide with circulation drops for NME. NME Circulation – first drop from 2000 – 2007 Year 1972 – 300,000, Year 2000 – 76,000, Year 2006 – 68,000 NME responded to the first wave of technological convergence (digital music, the internet) by developing an EARLY ONLINE PRESENCE – This was because the target audience for music magazines was composed of EARLY ADOPTERS who took to the internet quickly and thus the NME’s CIRCULATION began dropping relatively soon as a result of the internet revolution. Positives of this – new revenue stream from internet advertising once model for monetisation had been worked out. Also provided new audience data. NME Circulation – second drop from 2007 – present From 68,000 – 27,650 (Dec 2011) The far quicker drop over the last few years have coincided with the Web 2.0 revolution – the user generated web. This is because consumers of music and music journalism have become producers of it! The ‘prosumer’ has been born. NME has responded by colonising the Web 2.0 applications of social networking, etc. Internet circulation figures 5.3 million unique users of website (ABCe – Audit Bureau of Circulation)

Future - Online only in a few years surviving on its reputation and profiting from its diverse portfolio – merchandising, music, concerts, ringtones, back catalogue, etc. ???

NME Report Assignment Using the attached data and any other information you can get from wider research (e.g. IPC Media, Google search, Wikipedia), write a report on how NME has managed to survive as one of the leading music magazines from 1952 up until today. How likely is it to survive in the coming years?

Report subheadings: 1. Institutions (mergers, take-overs, who owns it now? production, distribution, competition with other magazines)

2. Audiences (target audience profile, audience fragmentation, interactivity & brand loyalty – ‘my NME’)

3. Advertising (how does NME keep advertisers happy? How much advertising in the magazine, how much for a full page ad?)

4. Technological convergence (it’s no longer just a printed magazine, how else can it be accessed and interacted with?)

5. Synergy/marketing (how does NME extend its brand and ensure brand awareness?)

6. The future (based on its success so far, what do you predict for its future?)

NME Report2  

NME Rport2

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