BandLab parent relaunches long-running music media brand NME as global print magazine

BandLab Technologies’ parent company Caldecott Music Group is relaunching UK-born music media brand NME as a bi-monthly print magazine.

Singapore-based BandLab acquired NME, along with Uncut, another long-running UK-based music media brand, from London-based TI Media in 2019.

The acquisition arrived a year after NME closed production of its iconic weekly music publication – ending its 66-year run as a physical magazine.

The brand continued to exist online at NME.com, and will now return to print after five years.

In May this year, NME Networks sold Uncut to Kelsey Media. BandLab also previously owned 49% of Rolling Stone, before that brand was fully acquired by its majority partner, Penske Media Corporation (PMC) in January 2019.

Singapore-based BandLab formed parent company Caldecott Music Group in 2021 to house three divisions: BandLab Technologies, Vista Musical Instruments, and NME Networks.

NME launched as a free magazine on September 18, 2015, with Rihanna on its cover, and was handed out to commuters and students across the UK on a weekly basis until the physical edition ended in 2018.

Prior to going free, with a distribution of around 300,000, the magazine’s sales had reportedly fallen to just 15,000 copies. The publication was originally established as the New Musical Express in 1952.

NME Networks claims that NME’s new print edition “will provide music and pop culture obsessives, and the wider entertainment industry, with a bible that showcases the best new artists and bands on earth.”

Each issue will be fronted by an edition of ‘The Cover’, which is NME’s existing flagship digital editorial property that champions emerging artists.

NME’s debut global print cover will be fronted by d4vd, who MBW has previously noted, found success after using BandLab’s flagship music-making app.

The July/August issue of NME magazine will have exclusive worldwide availability through music retailer Dawsons, which is also owned by BandLab parent Caldecott Music Group, alongside limited issue releases, which the company says will be made available via “artists, record stores and select partners”.

Caldecott acquired Dawsons via its Vistas Musical Instruments division in January.

The relaunch of NME in print arrives a couple of months after BandLab Technologies raised  USD $25 million in its Series B1 financing round, valuing the company at $425 million.

That latest investment followed the company’s successful Series B round in April 2022, where BandLab raised $65 million and achieved a post-money valuation of $315 million.

BandLab’s flagship namesake platform offers a range of features such as the cross-platform digital audio workstation Studio, royalty-free sample and loops service Sounds, and the AI music generator tool SongStarter.

The app counts over 60 million registered users.

“NME has never reached more people than it does today, and we’re excited to embrace our legacy, giving emerging artists the recognition and exposure they truly deserve while creating new synergies and opportunities for both talent and fans across Caldecott Music Group.”

Meng Ru Kuok, Caldecott Music Group

Commenting on the relaunch Meng Ru Kuok, Group Chief Executive Officer & Founder of Caldecott Music Group, said: “Today, we announce NME’s return to print with a brand new global magazine, offering an immersive journey celebrating the best in music, film, TV and gaming.

“Building on our commitment to supporting the new talent shaping the future of music and the industry itself, we are prouder than ever to showcase and immortalise emerging artists in our new global edition.

“NME has never reached more people than it does today, and we’re excited to embrace our legacy, giving emerging artists the recognition and exposure they truly deserve while creating new synergies and opportunities for both talent and fans across Caldecott Music Group.”

“Our new global magazine will curate the very best of NME; championing emerging artists and bands and serving as the definitive voice in pop culture.”

Holly Bishop, NME Networks

Holly Bishop, Chief Operating & Commercial Officer of NME Networks, expressed her excitement about the return of NME magazine, added: “Print has always been a cornerstone of the NME brand, and we are thrilled to announce the return of an icon.

“Our new global magazine will curate the very best of NME; championing emerging artists and bands and serving as the definitive voice in pop culture.”

MBW caught up with NME Networks’ Holly Bishop to ask a few more questions about the relaunch…


Why have you decided to relaunch NME in print at this time?

Across its unique history spanning over 70 years, NME has forged an incredible print legacy, with the biggest names in music and pop culture gracing its cover. The magazine’s iconic cover images have served as a significant cultural touchstone, capturing moments in time. Despite the challenges faced by print media in a digital world, NME, as part of Caldecott Music Group, believes that digital and physical engagement are crucial to a brand’s success and sustainability.

We have already made significant strides in the physical space, boasting flagship IP like the recently launched NME Screens, the return of the iconic C series, and of course, the wildest night in music… the NME Awards. With the addition of print, we offer yet another tangible avenue to connect our audience with the brand, and while print is a traditional medium, our approach to the magazine in 2023, is quite the opposite.

Instead of chasing newsstand and advertising sales, we’re focusing on a more audience-centric approach. The magazine caters to NME’s superfans and immortalizes artists in a way that only print can. This approach is only made possible as we live within a music ecosystem where our diverse mix of brands and products makes us more resilient to market conditions and allows continued investment.

NME’s debut global print cover is fronted by d4vd, an artist who started his musical journey through another of Caldecott Music Group’s brands; the music creation and social platform, BandLab. This serves as a great example of the connectivity across the group; the early insight gleaned from NME’s relationship with BandLab led to us playing an instrumental role in sharing d4vds story with the world.

Our distribution model also follows a non-traditional approach, valuing scarcity and exclusivity. By drawing parallels with the fashion world’s hype around limited releases, NME will create buzz and drive the FOMO effect by making the magazine a sought-after product that not everyone will be able to get their hands on. Our group will also enjoy a distinctive advantage in terms of distribution. Our recent acquisition of UK music retailer, Dawsons, allows us to exclusively go live with online drops of the magazine at dawsons.co.uk.


A lot has changed across the music and media landscape since the title was last in print – What are your ambitions for the magazine’s positioning over the coming months and years?

Despite being digitally led, the relaunched NME magazine is not intended to amass a huge print readership. Instead, its primary goal is to super-serve its superfans and provide a physical medium that captures a moment in time, representing the brand’s essence and global impact.

In terms of the wider goals; we want to celebrate emerging artists as NME doubles down on its commitment to new music. The shift in cover strategy serves to spotlight promising talent and share their stories, giving them a platform to connect with a wider audience. We also want to provide that regular, tangible connection to the brand as it serves as a pop culture bible; entertaining, informing and inspiring.


How does the relaunch fit into NME Networks’ long-term strategy?

The relaunch of NME in print aligns with NME Networks’ strategy of embracing a multi-platform approach while leveraging our unique position within Caldecott Music Group. Our non-traditional approach to distribution, with a focus on scarcity and exclusivity, and enhanced by our group opportunities reflects the innovative and forward-thinking nature of our business. NME has always been an adaptive brand, and this ethos runs through our business at large.Music Business Worldwide

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