Entertainment & Arts

NME sales dip below 20,000 copies

NME front cover Image copyright IPC Media
Image caption Indie pop band Metronomy are on the cover of the latest edition of NME

Sales of music magazine NME have hit their lowest yet, falling below 20,000 copies a week during the second half of 2013 despite last year's relaunch.

New ABC circulation figures show that the 62-year-old publication sold an average of just 18,184 per issue.

It marked a drop of 21% from December 2012, when each issue was selling about 23,000 copies.

A rock music institution, the NME's circulation has dropped every year since 2009, despite several relaunches.

Its last major rival, Melody Maker, closed in 2000 when circulation dropped to 32,206.

However, the NME's publishing director, Jo Smalley, told the BBC the magazine was not in danger of closing, and had actually seen advertising revenues increase by 49% over the past 12 months.

The circulation figures are "part of a much bigger picture, which is what the NME is doing as a brand", he said.

The NME website gets 1.4m users per week, while the digital edition of the magazine sells 1,307 copies a week, and thousands of people attend NME live events and concert tours.

"We've found lots of other ways to monetise the brand and to reach the consumers because, let's be honest, there's a lot more competing for their time now," said Smalley.

"For some people, print is still very important. For other people, they're interested in engaging with the brand online or via social media. And we're serving those audiences in all those ways."

TV listings dominate

Image caption The top three magazines in the UK are all TV listings titles

The NME's circulation figures are part of an overall downward trend. Music monthlies such as Q magazine and market-leader Mojo also recorded double-digit falls in readership, while teen publication Top of the Pops Magazine dropped 23%.

Weekly hard rock title Kerrang! also fell, reaching 35,127 people a week, down from 38,556 in 2012.

Film bible Empire shed 22,000 readers, with an average monthly circulation of 145,117; while its rival Total Film lost 15% of its readership, with monthly sales of 55,316.

However, the title sold an extra 12,134 copies in its digital edition, placing it in the top 10 e-magazines.

Gadget magazine T3 was the biggest-selling digital title, downloaded 22,319 times every month.

Magazine sales have been in decline for several years, with websites like Mail Online and the BBC competing for readers' attention.

But despite the wide availability of news websites, current affairs publications had a healthy 2013, with sales of The New Statesman and news digest The Week both increasing.

Good Housekeeping also overtook Glamour to become the top selling women's glossy monthly title, selling an average of 410,981 copies a month, a lead of just 500.

But TV listings magazines continued to rule the roost, with TV Choice the UK's biggest publication, achieving weekly sales of 1.3m - a five-year high.

The publication not only benefitted from the closure of TV Pick, but stole readers from What's On TV (down 14% to 1,04m) and Radio Times (down 7% to 826,302).

"The legacy of the ill-fated TV Pick launch has only been a positive one for TV Choice," said TV Choice's publishing director Liz Watkinson. "Even as our cover price moved back up at the start of the autumn our readers, both new and existing, stayed with us.

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