Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Vibe magazine calls it quits today

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 9:37 PM

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In an era in which blogs have become the breaking — though not altogether credible — source for hip-hop related news, gossip and interviews, Vibe magazine announced today that it's shutting its doors after 16 years in the business.

Gawker posted the following note from editor-in-chief Danyel Smith:

On behalf the VIBE CONTENT staff (the best in this business), it is with great sadness, and with heads held high, that we leave the building today. We were assigning and editing a Michael Jackson tribute issue when we got the news. It's a tragic week in overall, but as the doors of VIBE Media Group close, on the eve of the magazine's sixteenth anniversary, it's a sad day for music, for hip hop in particular, and for the millions of readers and users who have loved and who continue to love the VIBE brand. We thank you, we have served you with joy, pride and excellence, and we will miss you.

Danyel Smith

the former Chief Content Officer VIBE Media Group

& Editor in Chief, VIBE

Ironically, I just interviewed Smith two weeks ago, following the announcement that Vibe's new quarterly urban lifestyle pub The Most was due to hit newsstands with divorced couple Nas and Kelis covering the first issue.

When we talked by phone, Smith was excited because she'd just finished editing Vibe's upcoming story on the Dungeon Family which was scheduled to run as the August cover story. The photo shoot — which took place in Atlanta about a month ago and brought together the core members of OutKast, Goodie Mob and Organized Noize — had already stirred up blog buzz and anticipation. Even Smith seemed excited, suggesting at the time that the story, written by Linda Hobbs, might need to be stretched out over two consecutive issues. Hopefully, it will still see the light of day in some form or fashion.

In 1993, Quincy Jones and Time Warner gave birth to the general interest music magazine with a focus on hip-hop and R&B. The first issue featured an edgy, emerging artist then known as Snoop Doggy Dogg on the cover.

Stay tuned for my interview with Danyel Smith in which we discuss her two-term tenure as head editor at Vibe, the magazine's credibility within hip-hop, and some of her favorite interviews over the years.

Gawker also posted a note addressed to staff from Vibe Media CEO Steve Aaron outlining the challenges that took the magazine under:

Unfortunately, over the last several months, a confluence of events has obviously posed VMG to exceedingly serious challenges.

* The collapse of the capital markets has impacted us greatly. Over the past several months, we have actively pursued investment resources while working intensively with our bank to find a solution. But the deal market right now remains very poor and at the end of the day, the lack of investment resources to restructure the huge debt on our small company has made this outcome become a reality.

* The print advertising collapse hit VIBE hard, especially as key ad categories like automotive and fashion, which represented the bulk of our top 10 advertisers, have stopped advertising or gone out of business. It's also unfortunate that in a recession many companies reduce the multi-cultural campaigns. These facts, coupled with the continuing decline of the music industry not to mention the newsstand wholesaler consolidation in early 2009 all negatively impacted our business in a significant way.

* The relentless economic situation has depressed our growth initiatives on the digital front. To be clear, VMG has made significant improvement in this part of our business, but not at the accelerated pace required to offset the devastating effects of the most severe recession in our lifetime and the accompanying print losses.

I want to thank you all for your hard work and commitment, and for all of the adventures along the way. I'll miss this place a lot, but I'll miss you all and the magic you create.

Vibe will be remembered as a shockingly brilliant content company that everyone can be proud of and I look forward with great excitement to all of future endeavors you all pursue.

With great affection and respect –

Steve Aaron

former CEO of VIBE Media Group

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