NME invades America

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From The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Clash, The Sex Pistols and New Order to Nirvana, David Bowie, The Smiths and the Arctic Monkeys - all were introduced to the print world by iconic British music magazine NME.

Now the publication has expanded its brand into the United States with www.nme.com, a 24-hour music news service.

"This is not a Web site launch, but rather a brand launch," said Conor McNicholas, editor of NME, London. "It made sense for us to produce content for America since we are already receiving U.S. traffic."

Already the third-most-popular music news site in the United States, NME.com has upgraded its coverage with the launch of its Los Angeles and New York news desks, making it a live 24-hour news service. Coverage also will be enhanced through desktop NME Alerts, which via a user-friendly application will provide breaking news, reviews and rich media.

"Our audience is young, passionate music fans," Mr. McNicholas said. "We have journalists that travel the world, and people tend to have the same interest wherever they are."

News from Billboard, Rolling Stone and BBC Music will be available for users via RSS feeds. Users can add any other feeds they wish. The U.S. Web site soon will introduce increased user interactivity and feedback through a news comment feature, plus access to international live performances and tickets through the upgrade of the site's Gigs and Tickets section.

"There are already magazine brands online like Pitchfork, but we are a very established brand with clout and authority," said Anthony Thornton, London-based digital editor in chief of NME.com. "Yet we also have the look, feel and attitude of the smaller players, so we want to sit somewhere in the middle as a big organization that is tremendously swift on its feet."

NME began in 1952 in newspaper format as New Music Express. It is credited with popularizing some of Britain's most iconic artists. NME is already available in the United States as a digital magazine, which users can try at nme.com/freetrial. Readers anywhere in the world can get a digital version of the weekly paper the day it goes on sale in London.

"With the addition of our news bureaus in L.A. and New York, we don't have to worry about the shift in time changes," Mr. Thornton said. "Before, readers were only checking the site once a day, but now we have news around the clock."

NME already has launched Club NME in Los Angeles and New York and announced a content deal with Microsoft Zune. The title will bring stateside this spring its NME Tours, which have featured Coldplay and the Arctic Monkeys. Americans can attend "NME Presents Kaiser Chiefs," a U.S. tour beginning April 13 at New York's Roseland Ballroom.

The brand also plans to market itself through word of mouth and search engines.
"We are talking to a young, Web-active audience, and with content online, people are speaking with one another about it," Mr. McNicholas said. "We also are very adept to high rankings on Google where users can search for any band name that we have written about and NME will be in the top three hits."

NME.com also will serve as a resource for emerging talent to gain attention through the U.S. launch next month of NME's Breaking Bands tour, a success in Europe as a premier new band initiative.

Advertising on NME.com will be on a national basis. Readers of the U.S. version will see ads for items they can buy stateside.

NME.com is Europe's most successful music Web site, with 19 million page impressions monthly and 1.6 million unique users globally. Its digital archives of the NME print magazine contain 15,000 news stories, reviews and features.

"Our unique selling point is our heritage," Mr. McNicholas said. "We are, as a brand, 54 years old, yet we feel contemporary."

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