Vibe Magazine Folds - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

rihannaVibe Media Group, which publishes Vibe magazine, announced Tuesday that it was shuttering its doors immediately after 16 years of publishing content about the young, urban music industry.

The staff was working on a tribute issue to Michael Jackson when they got the news, according to Danyel Smith, who was recently promoted to chief content office for VMG, and was the editor in chief of Vibe magazine. “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,” she wrote in a note to staffers.

Legendary music producer Quincy Jones launched Vibe in 1993 as the hip-hop and R&B version of Rolling Stone. With Vibe gone, The Source magazine is the only large-circulation magazine dedicated solely to urban music.

In a money-saving maneuver, in February, Vibe reduced its circulation and publishing frequency, cut salaries between 10-15% and moved employees to a four-day workweek, according to Folio, a publication that covers the magazine industry.

For the six months ended Dec. 31, 2008, Vibe had a circulation of 817,825, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Vibe magazine had a 42% decline in ad pages in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. Other music titles like Rolling Stone and Spin are also suffering from diminished advertising expenditures, and Blender, which featured eclectic music reviews, features and news, folded in March.

However, despite its struggles, earlier this month, VMG launched The Most!,” a biannual magazine and Web site. “The Most!” was “to fill a void on national newsstands by reflecting Vibe’s commitment to urban style, celebrity, beauty, and culture through a tabloid-themed publication,” the company said in a press release. The magazine had an initial print run of 300,000, according to Folio.

Steve Aaron, the now former CEO of Vibe Media Group, attributed the company’s demise on the collapse of the capital markets, the inability to secure new investors, and tight advertising market. “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,” he said.

Join the Conversation

Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.


MORE ON BlackEnterprise.com