Music magazine stalwart Vibe is folding, joining fellow publications like Blender and Radio and Records.
Vibe was no sure thing when it first appeared in 1992. “Convinced that hip-hop music is giving rise to the same kind of pervasive culture that rock-and-roll did a generation ago,” The New York Times reported that September that, “Time Warner Inc. and the musician Quincy Jones are starting a funky new magazine called Vibe.”
That “funky new magazine” took off as hip-hop proved its founders right, particularly in the 1990s. The bottom line, however, was less reliable. Time Inc. sold Vibe in 1996; the buyers sold Vibe again 10 years later. Last February the latest owners, Wicks Group, cut circulation by a quarter, dropped two issues from the schedule and put the staff on a four-day work week -- with commensurate 10% to 15% pay cuts. About four months later, nonetheless, Wicks shut Vibe down entirely, as AOL’s Daily Finance blog reported June 30.
The recession explains a good deal of Vibe‘s fatal troubles, but not all of them. Other factors likely include growing music coverage online and struggles within the music industry itself. Vibe‘s ad pages from January through June plunged 39.2%, according to the Media Industry Newsletter, a bigger decline than monthlies’ average 22.8% drop. Vibe‘s paid and verified circulation averaged 817,825 over the second half of last year, down 8.6% from the half a year before, as a big expansion in free copies to doctor’s offices and hair salons was overcome by big drops in subscriptions and newsstand sales, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.