Media on trial: A review of the new NME

After 63 years, the music magazine NME went free on Friday (18 September). So we asked Havas Media's head of outdoor, newsbrands and radio, for her first-look review.

NME's cover unveiling the new free version
NME's cover unveiling the new free version

I was really excited by this re launch and actually sat in my garden on Saturday reading the magazine, although I'm not in the millennial audience bracket! 

Having Rihanna on the front cover whilst alienating old style NME readers (who would have been turning in their graves) gave the mag the populist feel they were aiming for. A good coup for the first issue. I liked the Agenda section – irreverent and newsy, but would expect more up to date bands featured than Bowie and Kurt Kobain. Perhaps though that is more about what is in the news this week.     

The Radar section continues to be one of the best things about the mag: reviewing new stuff but with a difference (check out Cool Keef) and the five best films America doesn't want you to see.  

Even the Games section was not just a review of new games (something that I would never read) but a history of Mario, and who would have thought that a game where you play an immigration official checking passports would win a top gaming award. Weird!   

Live –  the 10 most important gigs this week ensure that NME brand and culture of live music continues. That's why I like this mag –  the small, interesting bits of info that are packed within the pages.  

So onto what I think could be done better. Only two real in depth articles: Rihanna and The Chvrches, can there be more, please?!

And, the Big Bang Theory article: just felt like a quick page filler and old news.     

Distribution is not just at rail stations but also at gigs, HMV, Top Man and universities, targeting the largely male and female millennials. I am a late 40-something mother of two millennial blokes, i.e. not in the target audience that NME are aiming for. But I loved it; no, I have no idea who the Chvrches are, I don't go to as many live gigs as I want to but I want to know what's new and check out the ‘things we like’ page. I am definitely buying a record player to play my old vinyl on. 

Music, films, gigs and record players are for all ages – of course NME have to tell agencies who they are targeting, but editorially the audience feels wider than perhaps originally planned.

I applaud this. It's a great vehicle for our clients.

Jo Blake is the head of outdoor, newsbrands and radio, at Havas Media Group

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