‘Vibe’ to Launch Online Offshoot

NEW YORK Continuing its shift from print to digital media, the parent of hip-hop monthly Vibe magazine is launching an entertainment- and celebrity-focused Web site that will be supplemented by a twice-annual magazine.

TheMostmag.com will launch in June, with a $4.99 newsstand magazine appearing in July and January. The Most! magazine will replace the two issues that Vibe canceled earlier this year along with other cost-cutting moves and try to capitalize on two popular celebrity-themed issues that Vibe has published.

Vibe publisher Edgar Hernandez said the high cost of publishing a magazine led the company to opt for a digital-focused launch. “I don’t see publishing a magazine being the growth opportunity,” he said. “I think what we see is the opportunity to get content out there through Twitter, mobile and TheMostmag.com.”

The magazine won’t be unlike the concept introduced by Dave Mays and Ray Benzino with their 2006 launch of Hip Hop Weekly, a news and entertainment newsstand title published every other week. Mays’ and Benzino’s more recent hip-hop venture, an oversized monthly called Monsta, didn’t fare as well; the pair decided not to go forward with it after publishing one issue in spring 2008.

Hernandez said The Most! stands to benefit from its association with 16-year-old Vibe. “Vibe’s access to the artists is what’s going to differentiate us from what’s out there,” noted Hernandez, who said he’s gotten commitments from automotive, footwear, mobile and grooming advertisers.

Vibe parent the Wicks Group of Cos. has scaled back its print business as the ad market has cratered, while investing in digital formats that are popular with its young, urban audience. It recently launched Vibe Mobile, which delivers breaking news via text message alerts, and has become known for Vibe Verses, its online rap competition.

Vibe reduced its rate base to 600,000 from 800,000 with the June/July issue, trimmed its frequency to 10 issues from 12 and introduced a four-day workweek starting March 1. Its ad pages fell 42 percent to 178 this year through May versus a 22 percent decline for the Entertainment/Celebrity category, per the Mediaweek Monitor.

Source: Mediaweek.com

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