NME has announced that this week's issue (Friday 9 March) will be its final free print edition, as it attempts to expand its digital audience.
NME was launched as the New Musical Express in 1952. The free NME launched on 18 September 2015 and featured Rihanna on its cover. It has been handed out to commuters and students around the UK on a weekly basis since.
Time Inc confirmed in a statement: "NME's free weekly print magazine will cease publication. This week's issue of the magazine out on Friday will be the final free print edition."
Paul Cheal, Time Inc. UK's group managing director for Music, added: "NME is one of the most iconic brands in British media and our move to free print has helped to propel the brand to its biggest ever audience on NME.com."
"At the same time, we have also faced increasing production costs and a very tough print advertising market. Unfortunately we have now reached a point where the free weekly magazine is no longer financially viable. It is the digital space where effort and investment will focus to secure a strong future for this famous brand."
Readers and music journalists on Twitter reacted to the news, with many calling it the "end of an era".
Knee-jerk reactions aside: this is really sad news. Obviously it's an absolute shadow of its former self, but a massive part of British history just came to an end.— Laura Snapes (@laurasnapes) March 7, 2018
Gutted to hear about NME’s last print edition. Followed it religiously as a kid and felt immense pride to have my work printed in those pages. Some brilliant people kept it going in the final years.— Jamie Milton (@jamiemilton_) March 7, 2018
(My own thoughts are that NME was really good LONG after people said it wasn’t as good as it used to be, and I learned a lot working there, and at the end of the day fair play for trying the free thing instead of just shutting it three years ago.)— Peter Robinson (@Popjustice) March 7, 2018
Oh god, end of an era. I basically learnt English by reading NME at the back of the class in high school. My hometown would only receive three every week so we had to fight for them.— Marie Le Conte (@youngvulgarian) March 7, 2018
Grew up reading NME avidly as a teenager and having my work printed in the hallowed pages of such an iconic magazine is probably the proudest moment of my career so far. I'm absolutely gutted.— Nick Reilly (@NickJWReilly) March 7, 2018
NME ceasing print production has made me incredibly sad. They struggled through a weird, huge change recently, but really thought the mag had found its feet again.— Tom Connick (@ginandconnick) March 7, 2018
I see people saying, "Well, NME had become Smash Hits."— mike diver (@MikeDiver) March 7, 2018
Smash Hits was GREAT.
What NME had to become, to stay afloat as a print operation, was very much not great.
A shame to see it go with a whimper, but again, I hope this means a more determined digital strategy, and success
NME will focus on growing its digital platforms, a spokesperson said, which will include the website, its ticketing service, new music marketplace PledgeMusic, and two new radio stations.
Keith Walker, digital director of NME, said: "With these new developments, we are giving consumers even more of what they want from us. By making the digital platforms our core focus, we can accelerate the amazing growth we've seen and reach more people than ever before on the devices they're most naturally using."