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Ben Perreau is the editor of NME.com, website of the legendary UK music paper that has major designs on the US. Launching a print magazine in the US would be prohibitively expensive – NME estimates around $75 million – but a website will be around $75,000. NME.com has just introduced a US news service and editorial on to the existing site. Perreau told paidContent that his team had spoken to a number of music management companies in the States including William Morris, The Firm and Ian Montone to find out more about the market. The consensus was “we need a title like yours” – Pitchfork is felt to be “extremely fringe” and tends to be quite reactionary. “So we decided to launch an American news service, the first of which has just started,” said Perreau. “That involves us building up our editorial team with international streams. It’s a huge project, effectively to grow the amount of news and blogs we have, and overall content, and build that out internationally.” NME is also running club nights under its brand name. The first was on 6 September at Spaceland in LA, and the next will be at a disused Chinese restaurant in New York’s meatpacking district soon. Next targets are Chicago, Seattle and the other big music cities, as well as a 15-date music tour under the NME brand next summer with two UK and two US bands.
So NME isn’t seeing an exodus of readers who prefer music-orientated communities on MySpace? “We’re in a different space to social net sites. What we do is more about music and is focused on that experience, whereas social nets are about all sorts. The key difference between us and MySpace is that we have got a voice and an authority that we use to drive our content and build up our content. MySpace is primarily a community without an editorial voice.” He agreed that it is a great way to find new bands, but it’s also a bit of a free-for-all – a relationship that NME has to manage. And echoing some of the chatter around the AOP conference, he said that with the growth of social nets, the value of professional journalism is being increasingly recognised. “The whole thing could be coming around, so we’ll end up still needing to have respect for professionals and journalists and I think that’s absolutely right.”
NME.com is wise enough to offer interactivity in every possible way on its website. “We hear back a lot from our audience – we have a very passionate following of music fans. Woe betide anyone that gets a piece of gets a piece of music knowledge wrong on the message boards.”
And on mobile? NME has on-platform sites through O2 and shortly on Orange and Vodafone. “But for me,” said Perreau, “the future lies in off-platform and once they remove the walled garden that sits around mobile portals, we’re much more likely to be able to enjoy the kid of mobile community that everyone has talked about for so long. That utopian ideal of mobile internet will start to happen.”
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This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.