The NME's man-in-the-moon moment: How an iconic magazine went free

Joseph Clift

The NME is one of Britain's longest-lasting and most iconic magazines. Established in 1952, it became a rock music bible in subsequent decades: making the cover of the NME became a rite of passage for a band on the way to the big time.

But the digital revolution damaged the brand, financially. Circulation dipped to just 15,000 and, despite its youthful brand image, the average reader age was over 35.

"A fundamental change needed to happen," the NME's editor, Mike Williams, explained at a session of the PPA Festival, a magazine trade event that took place in London in May 2016. "We had the choice to evolve or die," added Romano Sidoli, group advertising director at Time Inc, the NME's publisher.