Publisher of music magazine consulting about redundancies, while title will continue online.
The NME is to cease publication in print after 66 years, the weekly music title joining a growing list of once mighty magazine brands that now only exist online.
The NME.com website will continue, replacing the print edition’s cover star interview with a new weekly digital franchise, the Big Read.
The NME will continue to keep a sporadic presence in print with special issues such as its paid-for series NME Gold, to cater for music stars’ appetite for appearing in a printed product.
In 2015, the magazine stopped being a paid title after a decade of sales declines saw its circulation drop to just 15,000. It relaunched as an ad-funded, free title with a circulation of 300,000 in a last throw of the strategic dice for the print edition.
“Our move to free print has helped propel the brand to its biggest ever audience on NME.com,” said Paul Cheal, the UK group managing director, music, at NME publisher Time Inc UK. “We have also faced increasing production costs and a very tough print advertising market. It is in the digital space where effort and investment will focus to secure a strong future for this famous brand.”
Time is consulting with the NME’s 23 editorial and commercial staff about possible redundancies.
NME, which has been printed weekly since 1952, managed to make money as a brand overall through spin-off activities such as awards and events.
The first front cover of the magazine featured the Goons, Big Bill Broonzy and Ted Heath and cost sixpence. When the magazine went free in 2015 the cover price had risen to £2.60.
Early readers of the magazine included John Lennon, Malcolm McLaren and T Rex frontman Marc Bolan, while its writers have included Bob Geldof and Pretenders lead singer Chrissie Hynde. The film director, Michael Winner, was NME’s film critic in the 1950s and 60s.
NME’s sales peaked at almost 307,000 in 1964 when the magazine was a must-read for keeping up with the latest exploits of the Beatles and Rolling Stones.
The magazine hit what is regarded as its golden age in the 70s, becoming a cheerleader for punk and then a champion for the the new wave and indie acts that flourished in its wake, including Joy Division and the Smiths.
The magazine – whose initials stand for New Musical Express – began to feel the pressure in the noughties as music listings went online and music discovery started moving to services such as Spotify. This was exacerbated by the wider issue of readers moving to digital media, resulting in the falling sales and ad revenue that have claimed many other magazine titles in the past decade.
“NME will also be exploring other opportunities to bring its best-in-class music journalism to market in print,” Time said.
Epiris had been expected to sell or restructure a number of titles – the company said it wanted to bring “clarity and simplicity” to the magazine portfolio – with the print edition of NME known to have been loss-making for a number of years.
“Our global digital audience has almost doubled over the past two years,” said Keith Walker, the digital director of NME. “By making the digital platforms our core focus we can accelerate the amazing growth we’ve seen and reach more people than ever before on the devices they’re most naturally using.”
In October, Condé Nast, the publisher of Glamour magazine, shocked the market announcing that the UK’s 10th biggest magazine would stop printing monthly. Instead, it is focusing on a digital-first strategy with a print edition just twice a year.
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Soundsmyth was founded in 2003 by Steve Smith and his brother David, along with longtime friend Walt Collins. The three had been playing music together off and on since they were teenagers. In 2006 they were joined by vocalist Ray Palmer and began working on their first CD. A year later Walt left and was replaced on bass by Rich Holtz. Two more years passed before the recordings were finished, mixed and mastered. The CD release party for “We Returned to Rock and Roll” was held at the Token Lounge in Detroit on February 13th, 2009.Sometime after the Detroit gig, David expressed a desire to go back to playing keyboards. The search for a new drummer ended several weeks later when Allan Eberly joined the band. While recording their follow-up CD, Lora Beuoy was asked to join the band as a second vocalist. No sooner were the last tracks recorded that both Allan and Rich departed. The CD was finished in September 2010 but the release was delayed while the “Wolves of Winter” video and cover art were completed. In October David decided to leave the band so Steve and Ray set up shop in what was to become Barking Dogs Studio.
Lora’s husband Ken joined in the fall of 2010 followed by Steve’s daughter Jaclyn the following spring. Over the next four and a half years numerous drummers worked with the band until John Bowden filled the position in 2014. Due to their talent and unique musical style, the band continues to gain fans both locally and internationally.
If anything, though, the BPI is actually underplaying the success of streaming, as it relies on data from the Official Charts Company, which does not currently count music played on YouTube towards its figures.
It has been estimated that if YouTube was included, the number of streams accessed by music fans in the UK would double.
Most-streamed artists of 2017
1) Ed Sheeran
3) Little Mix
5) The Weeknd
6) Calvin Harris
8) Kendrick Lamar
10) Post Malone
Overall, sales of music generated £1.2 billion for the UK economy last year, according to the Entertainment Retailers Association.
At the opposite end of the technological scale, sales of vinyl continued to grow, with 4.1 million LPs purchased in 2017.
Again, Ed Sheeran was the most popular artist on the format – closely followed by Liam Gallagher and Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black, which featured in the top five vinyl albums for the third year in a row.
CD sales down
However, vinyl only accounts for 3% of the overall music market, and its success is in stark contrast to the decline in CDs and downloads.
CD sales, which peaked at 162.4 million in 2004, now languish at 41.6 million.
Digital downloads are also on the way out, with just 13.8 million albums bought on stores like iTunes and Amazon last year, a drop of 23%.
Overall, music consumption was up by 8.7% – the fastest rise since 1998.
Sales and streams contributed £1.2 billion to the UK economy, according to the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).
Apart from Sheeran, the UK’s biggest artists included Rag N Bone Man, whose album Human shifted more than 885,000 copies by the end of the year.
Little Mix’s Glory Days continued to sell well, while Pink and Drake were the best-selling international artists.
It was also a better year for new artists after a dismal 2016, where only one British debut album (Bradley Walsh’s Chasing Dreams) went gold.
2017 saw the likes of Dua Lipa, Stormzy, Harry Styles and J Hus achieve the 100,000 sales milestone.
Top 10 albums of 2017 (combined sales and streams)
“The result of the black-pop continuum, jazz and soul and hip-hop and R&B, slow-cooked for more than 50 years.”
(I’m actually only 39 so that’s technically impossible, but thanks guys!)
I have made a career out of experimentation, freely embracing or discarding sounds, traditions and expectations. I learned from jazz legends like Junior Mance, Chico Hamilton and McCoy Tyner and then branched out to work with artists as diverse as Flying Lotus, Goldie and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Now, a decade after my debut album “The Dreamer” was released people are wondering, “Who is the real José James?”
Here’s the truth: It’s me. It’s all me. Everything that I’ve written, sung, recorded, produced and conceived is from me. No one put a gun to my head or a piece of paper in front of me and said, “Son, this’ll make you famous,” or, “Do this OR ELSE!”
I know you might have your favorites. I have mine, too. While You Were Sleeping is the closest to my heart. That was the most “José James” you’re gonna get. I produced, conceived and wrote that album along with a genius all-star cast and I’m proud of that one. Yes, it was moody. Yes, it’s kind of dark. I needed an outlet from the hell of going through a divorce and that’s what came out.
In 2011 I decided to take artistic control of my life. I had no label, no management, no idea of home. I had lived as an adult in both London and New York and the only home I knew was the road. My life is the stage. I invested my savings in a session with Pino Palladino, Chris Dave and Robert Glasper. With Russ Elevado engineering. Bad boiz. We recorded at the now defunct Magic Shop NYC (RIP!!!!! All cozy condos now!! Wow, gentrification is ruining NY, London and every culture mecca the world has. But I digress).I also did a session with the amazing Hindi Zahra in Paris, again on my own dime, without a label.
I took the mixes to Don Was, the new president of Blue Note Records, and I became his first signee (thanks, Don!). It was and is an honor to be on such a legendary music label. I went straight back into the studio, this time working with producer Brian Bender to create my first Blue Note album, “No Beginning No End.”
This was 2011 still. I was so happy and in love it was disgusting. That’s what you hear in songs like “Come to My Door,” “Trouble” and “Do You Feel.” Pure optimism. I know that’s why my fans want me to keep making albums like that. Everyone does. I want Obama back in the White House and the UK to have voted “remain,” but life moves on. I moved on. We all moved on. There was no way, no possibility, no chance that I would be able to make that album again. It was a moment, an artistic moment. A beautiful moment, and I cherish that moment, but that moment is gone.
Still with me? This is the un-fun part, the bad stuff, the mess that no one talks about unless you’re famous and you go on Oprah. I’m not famous and I didn’t go on Oprah. Instead I went through one of the most painful experiences a human being can have, my divorce. I’m getting over it now 4 years later, thus the explanation. I can’t go back y’all, but you deserve to know why.
At some point in my career, I became known for my blend of jazz, R&B and hip-hop. I enjoyed the press and the love. “The return of jazz.” All that shit. I even coined the description “The jazz singer for the hip-hop generation.” I was that. I was. But I’m not anymore.
A lot of things happened, some simple, some complex. Mostly I realized that although the art form of jazz — the only true original American art form??!! — is open to endless variation, study and exploration, the jazz industry is not. The collection of managers, promoters, agents, lawyers, labels, artistic directors, impresarios, collectors and producers. The people that exist between the artists, the musicians and their fans.
Someday I will write a book that will include all the racist and sexist things I have felt, heard and seen in the industry, but not today. But believe me that stuff pushes one roughly towards a door marked “jaded.” I have not yet opened the door, but I know its color, shape and size. My hand has rested on the doorknob, and I know all too well what waits on the other side. Misery. Gloom. Sadness. Depression. Hatred. Anger. Failure. We have all seen artists that we cherish, love and adore walk through that door. I don’t want to be one of them.
Where does that leave my fans? A lot of you feel as though you know the “real” José James. There he is, on The Dreamer. No, he’s the crooner singing jazz in a tux in the 50 Shades Darker film. Nope!! He’s that bad mf who collaborated with Gilles Peterson and Moodymann and Taylor McFerrin and only exists on vinyl!!! (180 gram, if you please). Wrong again, he’s the next step in post jazz neo-soul with No Beginning No End! Making jazz cool again with no solos and Emily King features! Hmm he’s definitely not the tortured guy trying to sing indie rock. Or trap. Or whatever goddam future R&B shit he’s trying to ruin his God-given voice on these days (yeah I know some of you guys didn’t dig LIATOM, let’s all move on shall we?).
Where does this leave me? Who is José James?
Is he the awkward mixed race/biracial kid that grew up in the white, blue-collar NE Minneapolis 80’s where everyone seemed to hate him? Yes. Is he the kid who loved jazz because his dad did, made his daddy’s dreams his own to try to get attention and then surpassed him? Hell yeah. Is he the Black kid who was raised white so he didn’t fit in anywhere but loved everything and all music? Does he see himself in all others? Is he defined by an absence, by not belonging? Did he hate school and all that it stood for (including music school)? Love the nightlife and clubs? Was he a genius giant fuckup until he wrote “The Dreamer” at age 27?
Still with me? What if anything does this have to do with jazz, with R&B and with Black culture? Everything, everything, everything. Train tracks and guitars. Sirens and red and blue lights. Getting pulled over for a violent frisk and grope by Minneapolis’ finest. Prince and Michael Jackson dying of overdoses. My dreams expressed in a Thelonious Monk solo. In Eric Dolphy’s horn. In Coltrane’s search. In Miles’ bloody collar. In Nat Cole’s smile. In Billie’s cry. Why not Dead Prez? OutKast? Nirvana? Rage Against the Machine? Bjork? Maria Callas? Joni Mitchell? Sufjan Stevens? Baden Powell? SZA? Kehlani? Drake, Snoop, Pac, Digable Planets, Al Green, Marvin, Baldwin, Twain, Whitman and Toni Morrison?
“Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world”
I’m not turning my back on jazz. I am jazz. I am the son of a jazz musician. How fucking dare you. I will always be the music, which has existed since before we had words, definitions, cages for it. I have given my life, my heart, my everything to the stage and to the One. Amen.
And now I want to go home y’all. No not America, land of the greed and home of the slave. I was born here, probably gon’ die here (with a song on my lips — cue violins!).
“Sittin’ in a park in Paris, France
Reading the news and it sure looks bad
They won’t give peace a chance
That was just a dream some of us had.”
I can’t go back and neither can you, but we can go forward, together. That is my wish for us. One family, a human family. Naive definitely, but I’d rather believe in a dream that includes all.
I’m sorry if I confused you, misled you, perplexed you or disappointed you with my music. I assure you I had (and have!) the best intentions. But I hear you. “Pick a gottdam lane, shit!!” Lmao. It’s true though, you’re entitled to that. I hear you.
So I offer, in the spirit of brotherhood, of sisterhood, the music of Bill Withers. A music of pride, of community. Of Grandma’s Hands, unwed mothers, apple cores and a piece ‘a candy. Of overcoming discrimination, obstacles, boundaries. A music of love and of friendship.
Shit is real right now. So real. We are in trouble and we need to unite to save ourselves and save the planet. We need to believe women and people of color. We need to listen and be honest with ourselves and with each other. We need to understand how our words and our actions impact the world that we live in and are creating/destroying. We need to value each other’s voices and stories.
I thank you for riding with me this far. I hope I sang a song or two that made you laugh, cry, think, shout, feel and dance in the last ten years. Thank you for the beautiful nights and stages in the last decade. The full houses, empty houses, walkouts and standing ovations. For everything. I love you and I love music. Now let’s go make this world a better place, together.
Embracing a broad range of pop music that encompassed British Invasion rock, garage rock, disco, reggae, Latin rhythms, and hip-hop, Blondie was the most commercially successful band to emerge from the New York punk/new wave community of the late ’70s. The group was formed in New York City in August 1974 by singer Deborah Harry (b. July 1, 1945, Miami, Florida), formerly of the folk-pop group Wind in the Willows, and guitarist Chris Stein (b. January 5, 1950, Brooklyn, New York) out of the remnants of Harry‘s previous group, the Stilettos. The lineup fluctuated over the next year; drummer Clement Burke (b. November 24, 1955, New York) joined in May 1975, and bassist Gary Valentine signed on in August, while keyboard player James Destri (b. April 13, 1954) came on board in October, completing the initial permanent lineup. One of the first bands on the CBGB scene to score a record deal, Blondie released their first album, Blondie, on Private Stock Records in December 1976. In July 1977, Valentine was replaced by Frank Infante.
In August 1977, Chrysalis Records bought Blondie‘s contract from Private Stock and in October released their second album, Plastic Letters. (Chrysalis also reissued the debut LP.) Blondie expanded to a sextet in November with the addition of bassist Nigel Harrison (born in Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, England), as Infante switched to guitar. Blondie broke commercially in the U.K. in March 1978, when their cover of Randy & the Rainbows‘ 1963 hit “Denise,” renamed “Denis,” became a Top Ten hit, as did Plastic Letters, followed by a second U.K. Top Ten, “(I’m Always Touched by Your) Presence, Dear.” Blondie turned to U.K. producer/songwriter Mike Chapman for their third album, Parallel Lines, which was released in September 1978 and eventually broke them worldwide. “Picture This” became a U.K. Top 40 hit, and “Hanging on the Telephone” made the U.K. Top Ten, but it was the album’s third single, the disco-influenced “Heart of Glass,” that took Blondie to number one in both the U.K. and the U.S. “Sunday Girl” hit number one in the U.K. in May, and “One Way or Another” hit the U.S. Top 40 in August. Blondiefollowed with their fourth album, Eat to the Beat, in October. Its first single, “Dreaming,” went Top Ten in the U.K., Top 40 in the U.S. The second U.K. single, “Union City Blue,” went Top 40. In March 1980, the third U.K. single from Eat to the Beat, “Atomic,” became the group’s third British number one. (It later made the U.S. Top 40.)
Meanwhile, Harry was collaborating with German disco producer Giorgio Moroder on “Call Me,” the theme from the movie American Gigolo. It became Blondie‘s second transatlantic chart-topper. Blondie‘s fifth album, Autoamerican, was released in November 1980, and its first single was the reggae-ish tune “The Tide Is High,” which went to number one in the U.S. and U.K. The second single was the rap-oriented “Rapture,” which topped the U.S. pop charts and went Top Ten in the U.K. But the band’s eclectic style reflected a diminished participation by its members: Infante sued, charging that he wasn’t being used on the records, though he settled and stayed in the lineup. In 1981, the members of Blondie worked on individual projects, notably Harry‘s gold-selling solo album, KooKoo. The Best of Blondie was released in the fall of the year. The Hunter, Blondie‘s sixth album, was released in May 1982, preceded by the single “Island of Lost Souls,” a Top 40 hit in the U.S. and U.K. “War Child” also became a Top 40 hit in the U.K., but The Hunter was a commercial disappointment, as was the concert tour that followed.
By the time The Hunter was completed, Stein became seriously ill with the genetic disease pemphigus. As a result, Blondie quietly broke up in October 1982, with Debbie Harrylaunching a part-time solo career while caring for Stein, who eventually recovered. In 1998, a new Blondie lineup anchored by Harry, Stein, Destri, and Burke united to tour Europe, their first series of dates in 16 years; a new LP, No Exit, followed early the next year. After more touring, another studio set, The Curse of Blondie, followed in 2003, and a DVD of the Live by Request program from A&E was released in 2004. In 2006, Blondie celebrated their 30th anniversary with their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the release of Greatest Hits: Sound & Vision, a best-of collection that contained all their classic videos as well. Blondie got back to work on original material in October 2009, decamping to upstate New York to start recording a new studio album. Additional sessions were held in Hoboken, and the resulting Panic of Girls was released in July 2011. In 2013, Blondie set out on a concert tour with another iconic female-fronted band, X, and returned to the recording studio to work on a new studio set, which was released in 2014 as Ghosts of Download. Three years later, Blondie teamed with producer John Congleton for Pollinator, which featured songs and cameos from the likes of Charli XCX, Nick Valensi of the Strokes, Sia Fuller, Blood Orange, Dave Sitek, and Johnny Marr.
By the sound of them, you would have thought Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings started making funk-threaded soul music together in the 1960s. Few devotedly retro acts were as convincing. Few singers as skilled as Sharon Jones at stuffing notes with ache and meaning would be willing to invest in a sound so fully occupied by the likes of Bettye LaVette and Tina Turner in the Ike years, too.
But what Jones brought to the funkified table had legs of its own — eight of them, to be exact — and they belonged to Binky Griptite, Bugaloo Velez, Homer Steinweiss, and Dave Guy — her Dap-Kings.
Jones, like James Brown, was born in Augusta, Georgia; there she sang in her church choir, and from fellow parishioners picked up the kind of back-patting she needed to convince her to go mainstream. As a teenager, she moved with her family to Brooklyn, where she immersed herself in 1970s disco and funk with an eye toward cutting a record of her own.
Instead, studios came calling and with them steady work — by her twenties, Jones was turning in backup vocals for gospel, soul, disco, and blues artists, most of it uncredited. In the ’80s, however, Jones’ sound was deemed unfashionable, and instead of pushing ahead with her soul diva’s dream she went back to church singing. She also took a job as a corrections officer at New York’s Rikers Island.
It wouldn’t be until 1996 that Desco Records would rediscover Jones’ sweat-basted, lived-in talent. With that label’s house band, the Soul Providers, Jones released several singles in the late ’90s; their warmth and genuineness propelled the act across the Atlantic, and Jones picked up a moniker — the queen of funk — that stuck.
Jones released her first full-length with the Dap-Kings, Dap Dippin’ with Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, after signing with Daptone Records in 2002. Years of touring behind it, as well as cutting singles with other artists (including Greyboy) ensued. In 2005, Jones re-teamed with the Dap-Kings for the winking groovefest that is Naturally, following it up two years later with 100 Days, 100 Nights. Jones also had a bit part in The Great Debaters as the singer Lila. A new studio effort, I Learned the Hard Way, appeared in 2010.
In 2013, Jones revealed that she had been diagnosed with cancer — initially in the bile ducts, and later stage two pancreatic cancer — but she continued to perform as often as her therapy schedule would permit, sometimes appearing on-stage with a bald head after chemotherapy caused her hair to fall out.
In late 2013, Jones was well enough to complete work on the next Dap-Kings album, and Give the People What They Want appeared in 2014. Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple premiered a film about the vocalist, Miss Sharon Jones!, at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival; Jones was in attendance for the debut screening, and revealed that her cancer had returned but defiantly added, “I’m gonna keep fighting, we got a long way to go.” Fittingly, the determined Jones and the Dap-Kings returned in October 2015 with a collection of Christmas and Hanukkah tunes titled It’s a Holiday Soul Party.
As the film Miss Sharon Jones! was poised to go into theatrical release, in August 2016 Daptone Records released an original soundtrack album. The Miss Sharon Jones! album featured a selection of Jones’ most memorable performances along with a new track, the autobiographical “I’m Still Here.” Sadly, however, she would lose her valiant battle with cancer, which took her life, at age 60, in November of that year. Shortly before her death, Jones completed vocals for a final album with the Dap-Kings. That album, Soul of a Woman, was released in November 2017, a year after her death. ~ Tammy La Gorce