NME editor hits back at critics

NME editor Conor McNicholas has hit back at claims that his weekly music magazine isn’t as influential as it once was.

Responding to an Independent on Sunday article which claimed NME had ‘lost its weight as a taste maker”, McNicholas said: ‘You might want to ask that question to all the press officers trying to ring us and all the record companies that are buying adverts in our magazine. They know as well as anybody that NME is enormously influential. Historically we’re still doing the same job we’ve always done.

‘Radio can raise awareness, and it can do a volume job, but we’re able to do something much more long term and that’s create the context. Because of the nature of the environment in our magazine – we bring meaning to music.”

Editor of music industry strategy magazine Five Eight, Eamonn Forde told the Independent on Sunday that the NME writers of decades gone by were much more opinionated, echoing pop star Morrissey’s recent claim that ‘NME readers have been driven away by a magazine with no insides”.

NME’s print circulation is 64,033, significantly less than the quarter-million it sold in the 1970s and down 12 per cent in the last year. McNicholas said that NME was moving with the times and reaching out to readers on new platforms. He said: ‘Personally, I’m of a mind thinking that its pointless pining for something that existed 20, 30, or 40 years ago; the only thing you can do is deal with the realities of right now or we wouldn’t be doing our job.”

Last week NME held its biggest-ever annual awards ceremony, with over 40 NME staff and freelancers covering the event. Live blogging and video content on NME.com pushed unique user numbers to NME.com over 2m for the first time in its history.

This week NME announced it would be hosting NME awards in America later this year (where 25 per cent of NME.com’s web traffic comes from) and McNicolas claimed there is a pull from the American music industry to bring NME to America.

He said: ‘The big issue that they have is previously radio was the way to break new artists, but radio has pretty much died on its arse, [in America] nobody is taking any risks apart from a couple of tiny stations like Indie 103. So all of the new band development is happening on social networking sites, which is fine, but it’s all very nebulous. What they’re looking for is an authoritative voice, somewhere they can advertise and know they can reach the like minded people.”

Later this year in the NME will be launching NME radio, to be broadcast from the basement of IPC’s Blue Finn building. The NME journalists will be heavily involved – with the news team delivering the news broadcast, some journalists with their own shows and round table shows with NME journalists ‘venting their spleen’about new music.

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