NME magazine, for decades Britain's authoritative voice on guitar music, today announced that it will be free of charge from September after circulation dropped below 15,000. 

Launched in 1952 as the New Musical Express, the £2.50 (€3.50) weekly said it would be printing 300,000 copies to distribute in stations, universities and shops. 

Editor Mike Williams said he "couldn't be more excited" about the "next phase of our evolution". 

"The goal, throughout all of our research and development, has been to find new and inventive ways to connect with you, our audience, better than ever," he wrote on NME.com. 

"In the 63 years since NME launched we have evolved and transformed plenty of times. The evolution of 2015 is our boldest ever move," he added. 

NME once sold more than 300,000 copies and could make or break bands with a review or a cover story. 

But its circulation has been in  decline for years and it sold just 13,995 copies on average between July and December 2014, according to industry figures. 

The magazine claims it reaches 3.9 million people every week through digital media, including NME.com, one of the first websites of its kind when it launched in 1996.