Music magazine NME is set to become a free publication in an attempt to reverse its steadily declining readership, and increase circulation from around 15,000 to 300,000.
The free weekly publication, which is published by Time Inc UK, will be distributed nationally through stations, universities and selected retailers from September. The NME has been printed at Polestar's Chantry site since last year when the group secured Time Inc UK's (formerly IPC Media) multimillion pound print contract last summer.
In a statement, NME said music will remain at the heart of the brand but there will also be emphasis on film, fashion, television, politics, gaming and technology.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live earlier today (6 July), NME editor Mike Williams said: "We think there's a massive opportunity to connect with our audience via print still.
“We've done extensive research among our audience and they are still interested in print. Free distribution is the gateway."
The title, which has a current newsstand price of £2.60, was launched in 1952 as the New Musical Express. It has seen its sales fall at a rate of 20% annually in recent years, according to ABC figures, and now has a paid circulation of just over 15,000.
NME.com, which was launched in 1996 and became one of the world’s first music news websites, will also receive an overhaul in tandem.
Time Inc UK chief executive Marcus Rich said: “This famous 63-year-old brand was an early leader in digital and has been growing its global audience successfully for the best part of 20 years.
“It has been able to do so because music is such an important passion and now is the right time to invest in bringing NME to an even bigger community for our commercial partners.”
The ‘Freemium’ distribution model has been successfully adopted by titles including ShortList, Time Out and The London Evening Standard over the past few years.