NME, the venerated British music title, has launched in Asia.
Based in Singapore and operated by BandLab Technologies, the NME.com/Asia site will hope to feed the growing appetite in southeast Asia for music news, features and pop-culture insights.
Currently, the platform has a split of 60-70% international content from the flagship U.K. title, and 30-40% local content. A core team of four writers handle copy from across the region, led by Iliyas Ong, former editor of Time Out Singapore; and Karen Gwee, former editor of Bandwagon and writer at NPR.
The initial push-out focuses on Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, Meng Ru Kuok, CEO of BandLab Technologies tells Billboard. “Singapore is unique, it imports music very well and it tends to the indie music scene, in which NME is strong.” Indie-pop, indie-rock, hip-hop and rap is “extremely popular here,” he continues.
Launching a new product in a pandemic, presumably, isn’t for the faint-hearted. “Actually, it is and it isn’t,” says Kuok. “In some sense, it’s challenging because we can’t get together and have those conversations in person, and interviews are never as good as when you’re sitting in a room and speaking to someone face to face.”
The health crisis has “allowed the team to be extremely focused whereas at a normal time everyone would be running around doing reviews and shoots in a bigger way. In some sense, it’s allowed people to be more focused on the craft and the words and making sure the product is good.”
The online initiative follows the expansion of NME Down Under last year, with a monthly print edition and the website NME.com/Australia, which now attracts more than 500,000 monthly unique readers, according to a statement.
Established in Britain back in 1952, NME or the New Musical Express built its reputation as the go-to for fans of edgier, scene-building artists. The British title now lives online after its print edition was scrapped in May 2018, with then owner TI Media citing rising productions costs and a bleak advertising market.
BandLab Technologies snapped up NME in 2019. The company’s flagship product is a social music platform, also called BandLab.