exclusive News April 29, 2020

NME will launch an Australian print edition next month [exclusive]

NME will launch an Australian print edition next month [exclusive]

British music magazine is launching a local print edition, TMN can reveal.

It will be the first time the masthead has printed a local edition and arrives just as Rolling Stone Australia prepares to launch its first quarterly issue under new management.

NME will be a monthly title and available through mail order only, bypassing newsagencies.

The initial print run will be under 10,000, according to Singapore-based owner BandLab Technologies.

The first issue, due May 28, sports Tash Sultana on the cover (pictured, below).

Both the acts to appear on the debut local covers of NME and Rolling Stone – Sultana and – are managed by Regan Lethbridge and David Morgan at Lemon Tree Music.

“It was always our intention to give our readers the physical experience since we bought the title last year,” CEO Meng Ru Kuok exclusively told TMN.

“There’s no better time than now to put a focus on the music and pop culture in one of the most compelling scenes in the world.”

Australia is the only country in the world to get a regular print magazine after it was axed by its former-British owner in 2018. In Britain, it still only appears as an occasional special.

The arrival of the print magazine comes after the success of NME’s digital launch in Australia.

“The website’s traffic proved beyond our expectations,” Meng revealed. “From an obvious low number, it quadrupled within six months to 500,000 unique monthly visitors.”

Most NME readers are under 34, with an even split in genres, although with a slight male skew.

Most click-on daily for a mix of Australian and international news, reviews and features.

Australia has been the title’s third-biggest market in the world over the decades.

The 72-page inaugural issue includes features on Mallrat’s debut album, Cable Ties on making music in these dangerous times and UK rapper Riz Ahmed on his new album The Long Goodbye.

Aussie contributors for the first issue include Luke Buckmaster, Kate Hennessy, Ian Laidlaw, Brodie Lancaster, Kara Eva Schlegl, Andrew P Street, and Cyclone Wehner.

The split is 60% music, 30% film/TV, and 10% pop culture. Priced at $12.95, it ships on the last Wednesday of the month, with 150gsm text stock; 250gsm cover stock; both on Silk Art.

The monthly format is a new era for the magazine. It was a weekly since it launched in 1952 as the New Musical Express. By the 60s, with British music’s boom, UK sales were 307,217.

It was avidly read in Australia where it became available through sea mail on a two-month delay or the expensive air express.

From the ‘70s its irreverence and ability to spot new trends made it compelling reading.

But in recent years, British readers shifted to the digital NME.com, attracting over 3 million UK unique users and over 13 million global monthly users.

On social, NME’s monthly reach was 200 million. As a result, print circulation dropped to 15,000.

As the title changed hands a number of times, one experiment was to drop the £2.60 cover charge, and 300,000 copies given away free at tube stations, retailers and university cafes.

It was finally axed in 2018.

It was bought a year later by Bandlab Technologies, a collective of global music brands including magazines, websites, social music platforms, technologies and equipment manufacturers.

Since then BandLab worked at putting value back into the brand.

It brought back the NME Awards in London with a dedicated Australian section which provided even more international exposure for Tame Impala, Mallrat, Stella Donnelly and Tones & I.

Negotiations began for NME-branded events in Australia but are now on hold due to COVID-19.

Asked about launching a product during a shutdown, Meng’s said, “There are challenges without a doubt but at this time, great content is very important.

“It’s more important than ever to bring out a product like this. The challenge won’t be the content or the format especially with the model we’re going with.”

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