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END NOTE: Urban music magazine Vibe is closing after 16 years. “It is with great sadness, and with heads held high, that we leave the building today,” said editor in chief Danyel Smith. Staffers on Tuesday morning, said Smith, were “assigning and editing a Michael Jackson tribute issue when we got the news.” AOL’s Daily Finance first reported the title’s closing.
In a memo to the staff, Steve Aaron, Vibe Media’s chief executive officer, said the inability to receive additional financing to “restructure the huge debt on our small company” and the collapse of fashion, automotive and multicultural advertising were the main reasons for the magazine’s collapse. In 2008, Vibe had 779 ad pages, a 20 percent decline from 2007, according to Media Industry Newsletter. Through June, the magazine registered 224 pages, a nearly 40 percent loss from the year prior.
The urban music magazine launched by Quincy Jones in 1993 was the hip-hop Rolling Stone in its heyday. By the turn of the decade, Vibe encompassed a magazine, Web site, an awards show and an on-demand television network. It later launched a fashion and beauty spin-off, Vibe Vixen. But as rap music became more mainstream, its artists slowly received more coverage in other titles — Beyoncé in the Nineties would have been a regular Vibe cover star, but in recent months, she was Vogue’s. And Forbes’. And Self’s. Vibe’s audience migrated to the Web and other publications. In the second half of 2008, circulation declined 9 percent, to 817,825, but 112,071 copies of those were public place issues. Newsstand sales declined 11 percent, to 100,318, in the second half of last year, according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.
In 2006, the magazine was sold to the Wicks Group for a reported $20 million. But the new management struggled to bring Vibe back to its glory and folded Vibe Vixen in 2007. In February, Vibe said it would cut its rate base to 600,000 from 800,000; frequency was reduced to 10 times annually from 12 issues, and a four-day work week and a 10 percent salary cut were mandated for employees. Vibe in June launched a twice-annual tabloid magazine, The Most, but that too will fold. — Stephanie D. Smith