Thursday, 10 September 2015

An Open Letter To The Economist

Adding to a growing list of badly researched and, frankly wrong, pieces about the music industry, even The Economist is not immune to getting things badly wrong it would seem.

Have a read of this 'back of the bus' piece on the NME going free and see if you can spot the glaring errors. If you can't I got all Henry Root and sent them a letter which is below.

Whilst the initial set up of your article in the September 5th edition of the paper regarding the imminent relaunch of NME as a freesheet displayed correct analysis, your subsequent expositions regarding the fate of previous free music titles and suppositions regarding 'NME's readers' were unworthy of your well earned reputation for accurate analysis.

The Fly was not 'free for a short time' as you assert but ran from 1999 to 2014 as a free title and peaked at a readership of around 100,000. It was rightly regarded as an important source of coverage for bands large and small and was instrumental in the success of a huge amounts of now household names, including elbow who I have represented since 1999. The demise of the magazine was less to do with its free nature and much more to do with parent company MAMA Group's involvement with HMV and a distribution deal with the chain which, following the store group's collapse in 2014, left the title without a valid distribution network.

A short journey to Google would have revealed this to you via either this guardian story - - or Wikipedia -

Stool Pigeon, which you cite alongside The Fly, (again being 'free for a short time'), as a harbinger of doom for the new NME, also ran for years, beginning in 2005 and ending in 2013. This, according to editor Phil Hebblethwaite, was not because of bankruptcy but rather that he was 'knackered' after eight years of running the paper. Again, this is public knowledge, see the Press Gazette piece at the time of closure -

As regards NME, you note that it will have to broaden the bands it covers to appeal to a wider market but a public statement from editor Mike Williams has already declared that 'music is "firmly at the heart of the brand" but there will also be "film, fashion, television, politics, gaming and technology".' (, suggesting that the editorial team are already focused on just such a strategy.

As a subscriber I value the analysis that The Economist offers in areas where I have no expert knowledge. In an area where I have some knowledge I find it disturbing that such copy could pass for publication with multiple glaring errors and naïve assumptions devoid of fact.

Lewis Jamieson

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