VIBE Magazine Will Be A Magazine Once More

And Chris Brown and Drake will be its "first" cover subjects, reports Ad Age. We will now ceremoniously omit the joke about how certain creative entities went down in public flames and are now both on the comeback trail--we love VIBE and its dispossessed staff too dearly (plus very occasionally, we wrote things there) to compare the magazine to the recovering monster that will grace its first cover under the auspices of the private equity fund InterMedia Partners. Vibe.com, led by smart King veteran Jermaine Hall, has been puttering along uncertainly for months now; its nascent print wing will start publishing in December and shoot for a scant four issues in 2010.

What's the model here? Something vaguely akin to music's newly developed 360 deals, where the old single product/vendor model is replaced by ambient lifestyle presence. Explains Ad Age:

    But Vibe and its fellow music magazines still face more challenges from digital media than, say, fashion magazines do. Music, not to mention its devotees, works better with digital than glossies focused on visuals. That's why you now see Vibe magazine recast as just one arm of the Vibe Lifestyle Network, why Rolling Stone is bringing its website back in-house, and why, to some degree, Blender lies in the magazine graveyard.

    "Here, Vibe.com is really the hub," said Jermaine Hall, editor in chief of the new Vibe and Vibe.com. "That's where everything needs to go back to. Whether it's the magazine, or we decide to do some kind of TV programming down the line, everything needs to come back to Vibe.com."

The magazine will also ostensibly grow to include a "wider editorial focus encompassing not only music but fashion, politics, culture, arts and sports"--in fact, nothing new for VIBE, which once prided itself on doing exactly that. Advertisers-- Nissan, Sean John, General Motors, Crown Royal, Pepsi, State Farm--are on board. There is every reason to believe the mag is back.

Back for the better? That remains to be seen. Hall is no new media hack. And his business plan amounts to a savvy admission that print-qua-print is in deep, horrible trouble and is in dire need of reinvention. The magazine will support the website, and not vice versa. (The website, right now, is not similarly innovative--or perhaps you were dying to see a photo of Brown and Cassie "getting close" on the video shoot set?) With this, we wish them luck--may they make enough money to employ all those they once laid off and perhaps, along the way, revive a magazine that was almost always essential, even at the very end. New Owners Relaunch Vibe With Chris Brown Cover [Ad Age]


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