The NME finally got the bullet that has been in the chamber for years. Digital expansion? It’s online irrelevance for a brand that still meant a lot of former teenage music mag obsessive (and CEO of The Means), Mic Wright. Here he explains why…
I was an odd kid. I’m an odd adult. These things tend to follow on like that. And one of my oddities was a desire to buy copies old music magazines. I had stacks of Sounds – dead before I had my musical awakening – and Melody Maker from the late-70s through to when it closed, I had NME from its various golden eras and I was a voracious reader of the then-living Select magazine. I bought the weird new titles and the obscure mags about music that I wasn’t even sure I’d like.
Eventually, in my third job, I became Front Section Editor at Q Magazine. I lasted 9 months as a full-time music journalist, broken by repeated redesigns and an office that was in free fall. But the brief period I had allowed me to commission names that had been legends to me in print – Sylvia Paterson, Johnny ‘Johnny Cigarettes’ Sharp, David Quantick, Mat Snow… the list could be very long.
I was sometimes more excited about meeting these writers than I was the stars we were writing about. I loved the music press that had been in its pomp when I was too young to realise.
Yeah, I got into Nirvana when I was still a pre-teen, just before Kurt killed himself but I couldn’t be a real fan. I bought Colombia on vinyl from Norwich HMV but wasn’t old enough to see Oasis live, let alone hitchhike to Knebworth a few years later. I loved the Shine compilations that were cheap and accessible, colliding all the Britpop bands together. I obsessed over Wake up, Boo! and now I’m friends with Martin Carr on Twitter as if that’s somehow a normal thing.
Why all this odd and scattershot nostalgia splurge?
Because they shot and killed NME today.
Yeah, they talk about digital expansion but the death of the print version is the death of a dozen eras of music journalism.
They gutted it first of course. They fucked that horse until it could no longer stand let alone neigh.
By the end, the NME was a skeleton. A brand extension. A place to extol the rock and roll benefits of certain hair care brands.
I knew NME, sir and you are no NME.
So raise a glass to the ghost of the British music press. And buy a copy of Q sometime, because its one of the last mainstream spots for interesting writing, led by an NME veteran who still gives a shit.
Beyond that, hunt out the small music magazines still wedded to print and actually obsessing over great songs.
And visit Drowned In Sound and The Quietus and MusicOMH and a tonne of other websites that have the passion to keep going but need the traffic and support to pay their way.
I won’t mourn NME today. I’ll feel sorry for the freelancers who have been fucked over and the staff who saw the ship sank. But NME’s pulse grew almost imperceptibly faint more than a decade ago.