Media: New-look NME eyes older readers

NME is the world's longest-running music weekly magazine, sitting at the forefront of the music scene since its launch in 1952 and commanding respect from readers and the PR profession alike.

Despite its burgeoning website and branded events, and desirability as a target for PROs with talent or products to promote, the magazine suffered a year-on-year drop of 20.6 per cent in circulation in last year's ABC figures.

This week, Krissi Murison, the recently installed and first female NME editor, has unveiled a redesign in the hope of luring back older readers.

Murison's vision is to make the magazine more 'heavyweight', with more in-depth articles, more opinion and a more mature feel.

The magazine aims to provide context to the music news that is broken immediately via NME.com.

The magazine's new front section, for example, will have a regular feature called The Main Event - a report, investigation or debate into the week's biggest music news story.

Murison believes this more thoughtful approach and a more mature look will help the magazine reconnect with older readers in its target age range of 18- to 24-year-olds.

'I don't want anyone to feel they have outgrown the magazine. I want to make it more aspirational,' she says, a lesson she took from recent reader feedback.

The typical NME reader is an obsessive music fan, always looking for the best music but becoming personally affronted if it does not meet their expectations.

This means PROs have to be careful when targeting the title. But there are plenty of opportunities to work with NME.

The review section covers books, films, DVDs and gadgets that appeal to NME's readers. Radar, the new bands section, has expanded to include more live band news, live reports and tips.

NME also prides itself on having high-level access to bands, so PROs should offer their acts up for behind-the-scenes pieces on first-night performances, studio recording days and on the road.

Richard Dawes, who co-founded music specialist agency DawBell and was previously Polydor's head of press, says NME is still incredibly influential.

Dawes says being associated with the NME brand is important for artists: 'It's still very relevant, especially when you have a new band to break.

'If you sit down with any manager, radio plugger, agent or promoter, they all want to know what NME is saying about your band.'

Both Dawes and Murison agree that the best route to good coverage in NME is by knowing its journalists.

'Pick out the journalists you know will like a band on your books. All the journalists there talk. You need a champion, someone to fight for your band. It is like the House of Commons; you need someone to lobby for your client,' says Dawes.

QUICK FACTS
Circulation: 38,486 (ABC, July-December 2009)
Online visits: 4,229,326
(ABCE, July-December 2009, monthly average)
Frequency: Weekly
Website: nme.com
Launched: 1952
Contact: firstname.surname@ipcmedia.com, 020 3148 6864

A MINUTE WITH ... KRISSI MURISON, EDITOR, NME

- What is the best way to achieve coverage in NME?

Know who you are sending something to, rather than sending out unsolicited emails. Some people believe that emailing the editor will get you instant attention. It will not. Contact my features editor, new brands editor, reviews editor or gig guide editor.

- What are your plans for NME?

I want readers to re-engage with our writers, so I will push our writers to the forefront. We will also emphasise the breadth of music we cover. In recent years, people have seen us as a guitar indie ghetto. We went there because we follow what is interesting, but we cover other types of music.

- Explain the role of the website

The website breaks up-to-the-minute music news. We have video footage, photo galleries and blogs that we might use to solicit reader comment for our features. We often offer free downloads.

- What are your key deadlines?

The reviews work about two to three weeks in advance. The upfront section is more newsbased, so we want that to be as timely as possible. Our covers go to print on Thursday, but if something really big happens over the weekend, we can amend the magazine first thing on a Monday morning.

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