UK publisher TI Media has sold music titles NME and Uncut to Singaporean company Bandlab Technologies, announced its former owner on Friday (May 17 Singapore time).
The deal, which includes the brands’ social, digital, print and experiential assets, is expected to be complete by May 31, 2019.
First published in 1952 as the New Musical Express, NME stopped its print edition in March 2018, with its then-owner, Time Inc, saying the magazine was “no longer financially viable”. Paul Cheal, a managing director for Time Inc, attributed the decision to “increasing production costs and a very tough print advertising market”.
According to The Telegraph, NME had struggled with falling circulation figures for several years – dropping below 16,000 copies a week in 2014 – before it was relaunched as a freesheet in 2015. Mike Williams, the editor who oversaw the move from paid to free distribution, resigned last February.
Bandlab previously owned half of US music magazine Rolling Stone, an ownership which lasted over two years. The startup, owned by the son of palm oil tycoon Kuok Khoon Hong, sold its 49 percent stake to Penske Media Corporation (PMC) in January this year, giving the company full ownership of the magazine, including all event and licensing rights, along with the parallel entity Rolling Stone International.
In a statement, the Singapore-based BandLab Technologies said it is acquiring NME and Uncut as part of its mission to grow out a major global music media business. The brands will join its media division which includes Guitar.com and MusicTech.
“We are very excited to welcome NME and Uncut to the BandLab Technologies family,” said Meng Kuok, founder and CEO of BandLab Technologies.
“These brands occupy a treasured place in the UK music landscape and increasing relevance to the global music scene, which we are looking to enhance and extend. These two media brands will play an important role in continuing our vision to create a connected world of music.”
NME and Uncut staff will reportedly transfer with the sale and will continue to be based in the Blue Fin Building, London. There will be no interruption to Uncut’s publishing schedule.