Update: it looks as though the NME isn't turning into a free publication (at least not next week):

According to VICE, who went and asked their local shopkeeper for confirmation, the NME will no longer be charging for the physical copies of the magazine – at least, not after next week.

The publication has been going since 1952, and it would be pretty historic for it to no longer have a cover price. Maybe they'll start giving it out at stations in London like the Evening Standard, and Time Out more recently. Although it may seem like a crazy move, the success is going to come from being available to anybody with the ability to either pick up things or get other people to pick things up for them – and from that an exponential rise in readership, for sure.

If VICE's local shopkeeper is correct, then there will probably be a lot of people buying next week's NME to keep as some sort of heirloom. You can tell your grandchildren that it was the last time you had to pay for paper with words on it that were about music.