Friday, October 2, 2015

An open letter to NME

Hello NME, It's been a while since we've talked, The conversations have always been a little bit one sided,  but I think we need to have a bit of a discussion.
I've been reading your magazine now for about 5 years. The first ever copy I bought had Liam Fray on the cover. It feels silly to have such a strong relationship with a little indie rag. Especially one that many hipsters and people in bands despise. I've always disliked NME for slagging off the bands I like, but loved it for slagging the ones I don't. I hate to admit it but at least 70% of all the music I've listened to over the last few years has been because I read about it in your magazine. It's fair to say, I'm a tad obsessive. I won't give you all the credit for making me want to be a music writer myself. As someone who constantly over analyses everything, being a journalist has always kind of appealed to me. But it was those first few reports on 'B-town' that made me want to go out and bury myself in the scene. The need to do this and shout about the great bands you'd forgotten to mention. Broken Witt Rebels, Soldier, Pink Violence, Duke.. was what inspired the blog.
I imagine your editor writes all the positive messages about NME's new direction through gritted teeth. The on-line crowd of (lets face it, not very open minded) readers, which have been split between those who were tired of seeing Noel on the cover, and those (like me) who bought the rag to see new bands, featured and on the cover. This bunch have been angrily writing about NME's downfall for years, but in my mind 2013 was NME's golden year, it was a great year for music. Those issues celebrated the birth of new scenes with infectious excitement and in-depth knowledge. It's strange to think of how great the magazine still was only 6 months ago. To see the NME go from that to this is downright depressing. The new issues are in no way bad. The writing is more or less the same. But your target audience seems to be 18-25 year old's with ADD and little interest in the variety of new subjects that you cover. Or just anyone who can be bothered to pick it up
I have no problem with articles on film, politics, and style, but as a music obsessive, music needs to be the focus. I'm happy to see Peter Robinson back, that the adverts and features are kept separate. That upcoming artists are given a shout, and that some features have remained. However some things need addressing.
  • I really don't like your new columnist, she's the sort of kale eating narcissist that obviously sees feminism as a hashtag rather than the political/social movement that the suffragettes founded. Rather than replacing her, give us a new columnist each week. Anthony Fantano and Joel Friemark would both be perfect. 
  • Stop recommending gigs that have sold out, it's very annoying. Bring back live reviews
  • More album reviews, more new music features
  • Bring back the crossword, and (once the hype wears off) letters page
  • Cover stars and non cover stars get equal amounts of space
  • Your new app is probably great, make one for windows 
Like I said, the new issues are not bad, but I think you need to remember the wise words of one Ron Swanson "never half ass two things, whole ass one thing". I doubt I'll stop picking up the new issues, there's no real reason not if if their free. I may however start reading Mojo as my main mag instead. I accept that with all new formats and re-branding, there will be teething. But with the last ever monetary issue being a celebration of NME's past, I'd like to see such great features, covers, and stories in the future. Despite not having lost any money, I feel a bit cheated.

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