06/07/2015 11:26 BST | Updated 06/07/2016 06:12 BST

NME Goes Free To Boost Circulation

Long-running music paper NME is going free in a bid to boost its circulation.

The weekly, formally known as the New Musical Express, currently sells around 15,000 copies but its publisher's plans will see 300,000 distributed at stations, shops and colleges around the country.

Its editor, Mike Williams, said the move would transform the magazine, which was launched in 1952.

He said: "NME is already a major player and massive influencer in the music space, but with this transformation we'll be bigger, stronger and more influential than ever before.

"Every media brand is on a journey into a digital future. That doesn't mean leaving print behind, but it does mean that print has to change, so I'm incredibly excited by the role it will now play as part of the new NME.

"The future is an exciting place, and NME just kicked the door down."

The free magazine will launch on September 18.

Publisher Time Inc said music would stay "at the heart of the brand", but the magazine would also cover "film, fashion, television, politics, gaming and technology".

Time Inc boss Marcus Rich said: "This famous 63-year-old brand was an early leader in digital and has been growing its global audience successfully for the best part of 20 years.

"It has been able to do so because music is such an important passion and now is the right time to invest in bringing NME to an even bigger community for our commercial partners."

Its paid-for circulation is a far cry from its 1960s heyday when it sold in six figures and shared the market with now-defunct rivals such as Sounds and Melody Maker.

In the 1960s it was an essential part of the pop landscape, promoting acts including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and featuring them in the line-ups of its famous NME Poll Winners Concerts.

A decade later, it embraced the punk revolution and launched the careers of writers including Julie Burchill and Tony Parsons.

NME veteran Danny Baker greeted the move on Twitter, posting a picture of him at its office in 1979 and saying: "And so ... the NME is a free sheet now. Why not? The games up & the fire's gone out."