Vibe Magazine Is Sold and Likely to Become Online Only
By Ben Sisario
SpinMedia, a group of music and pop culture Web sites that includes Spin magazine, has bought Vibe, the 21-year-old R&B and hip-hop magazine.
SpinMedia announced the sale on Thursday, saying that it had bought the rights to Vibe’s print magazine and its related sites, Vibe.com and Vibevixen.com, from Vibe Media. The price was not disclosed.
The sale reunites the two publications, which more than a decade ago were part of the same company, Vibe/Spin Ventures, before each went through a series of sales.
Calling Vibe “an industry leader in the urban and hip-hop category for decades,” Steve Hansen, SpinMedia’s chief executive, added in an interview: “It’s really exciting to add this to SpinMedia’s collection of music properties and bring more digital DNA to the team and see what they can do.”
SpinMedia, until recently known as Buzz Media, owns or represents more than 40 sites, like Celebuzz, Idolator and JustJared, that cater to young pop-culture fans and compete with a range of sites like Gawker, TMZ, Pitchfork and BuzzFeed.
After it bought Spin last summer, Buzz Media promptly shut down the print magazine and laid off a third of its staff, saying that it would concentrate on the Web site, and consider eventually reviving the print version of Spin in some form.
Since then, Spin’s online traffic has doubled, but Mr. Hansen said the company was no closer to reviving the magazine, and that it planned shut down Vibe’s print magazine later this year.
“We are still trying to find a print model that makes economic sense in the digital age,” he said.
Vibe was founded in 1992 by Quincy Jones and Time Warner, with a focus on hip-hop and R&B music and the culture surrounding it, and became one of the most influential publications of its kind. It was shut down abruptly in 2009 amid a plunge in advertising revenue, but within months it was bought and revived by private equity investors.
Vibe had an average print circulation of 301,000 for the first six months of 2012, according to the Alliance for Audited Media, and SpinMedia said that each month Vibe’s sites have 1.4 million visitors and serve 1.6 million video streams.