New Statesman decided to have a crack at NME this week asking ‘Why aren’t young, new acts getting any space on new music’s real estate, the front cover of the New Musical Express?’. The timing could have been better. Little point moaning NME don’t put new bands on the cover the same week they go and do exactly that.
Happy to say after my own moaning a couple of weeks ago that this week’s issue is a cracker. Featuring Palma Violets on the cover, it’s exactly what NME should be about. The interview is bonkers, the pictures are fantastic. It feels exciting, a band who play in a cramped basement on the Lambeth Road. Marvellous stuff. There’s a fair bit of the sort of crap the website likes so much, a bit about Lady Gaga’s arse, a whole page dedicated to what’s the best Beatles single, but on the whole it’s what you want to see. A nice summit feature with industry ‘insiders’ and the lovely Tim Burgess have a conflab in a pub, pages of people in bands picking their favourite new bands…
A bit in Radar had me whooping with delight. “When Tall Ships first blipped onto our radar,” writes Barry Nicolson, “they reminded us a little of DC math rock doyens Q And Not U…” Magnificent. That’s the sort of talk we expect from NME.
Anyway, much more like it, but don’t think the ABC will waiver too much due to my purchase. And I won’t be buying it next week mainly because it’s business as usual with The Libertines on the cover, but hey, it’s a start.
It did occur to me when I was picking up my print copy that I could have bought it digitally. That counts towards circulation, right? The one thing I’ve not embraced on the iPad is replacing my print reading. I’d like to, the thought of everything appearing magically in the same each day, week, month, appeals. But something’s stopping me. Cost.
Case in point is NME. The print version is £2.40, the digital mag £2.49. The logic is lost on me. An extra 9p for what? The digital version costs IPC nothing, it’s all done for the print version anyway, just needs converting, maybe a bit of extra coding, but it’s hardly going to break the bank.
Much more sensible would be to bang out the digital version for 49p. I’d subscribe for that sort of cash and as I understand it, it all counts towards the title’s ‘reach’. How many digital only copies does it do a week? Hardly any I’d wager above and beyond the print subscribers who get the digital verison for free. And what’s the use of that? It’s like owning two cars and trying to drive them both to work.
IPC’s problem has always been not eating itself, but how can you worry about digital sales carving up print sales when the circulation is in freefall anyway? Sit around and watch the NME die or actively do something about it? Decisions decisions. So come on IPC, be bold. Just look at Q’s current subscription offer, 12 issues for £12. That’s bold. Mental, but bold. Dip your toe in the water, digital NME for 49p. Who’s in?