Vibe Magazine Shuts Down

Respected R&B
publication’s closure is effective immediately.

 

By Fred Mills

 

The latest casualty of what historians will one day refer to
as The Great Print Magazine Purge of the Early 21st Century is hip-hop/urban
publication Vibe. Founded in 1992 by
Quincy Jones and Time Warner, it was sold to private equity firm The Wicks
Group in 2006 but had suffered steady declines in circulation and ad revenue.

 

According to the New York Times’ Media
Decoder
, Vibe CEO Steve Aaron
earlier today circulated a memo to the staff announcing the magazine’s
shuttering, effective immediately, indicating that efforts to restructure “the
huge debut on our small company” and to find new investors had failed. Wrote
Aaron, “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.”

 

Daily Finance, in
its report, noted
that when reached for comment, the company’s chief financial
officer, Angela Zucconi, said that an official statement would be made
available to the public “by the end of the day. That’s all I can say at this
point.”

 

Meanwhile, RapRadar.com obtained a copy of the Aaron memo
and posted it
to its site. In addition to problems with advertising, Aaron blamed
the magazine’s demise on the recession and on “the collapse of the capital
markets” which made raising money in the current economic climate nearly
impossible. (In recent months, Vibe attempted
a number of cost-cutting measures, including reducing circulation and
frequency, cutting salaries and utilizing a four-day work week.) He also noted Vibe’s numerous achievements over the
years and predicted that it would be remembered as “a shockingly brilliant
content company that everyone can be proud of.”

 

 You can read the memo
in its entirety, below.

 

As several observers have already pointed out, this leaves The Source – long a lightning rod for
controversy and recently going through a bankruptcy – as the last magazine
standing in terms of large-circ hip-hop/R&B publications.

 

***

 

Dear VIBE team:


It is with a heavy heart that I share some tough news, VMG is closing down
effective today, June 30th.

It’s been an 16 incredible years since VIBE’s
inception. There are very few magazines with the richness of history and
breadth of talented visionaries who created the powerful lens in which VIBE viewed and shaped urban music
and culture.

Ever since I first set foot in this courageous company, I’ve regarded myself as
incredibly fortunate to be be involved with this remarkable brand and group of
individuals whose performance has never been nothing short of outstanding. We
finished 2008 in an improved position versus the prior year, and accomplished
so much, including:

    * Editorial Awards
    * Editorial transformation into content dept
    * New Ad accounts being broken
    * The Most Mag Launch
    * Award winning re-design
    * Profitable digital operation
    * VIBE.com growth and improvements and programs such
as  Best Rapper Ever,  #1 Stan, etc
    * Mobile VIBE  launch
    * Micro-site development Mostmag.com to start
off.       
    * V Sessions
    * Improved PR coverage

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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