The Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Media Group has acquired long-standing rock music publication Spin, hip-hop and R&B magazine Vibe and indie music blog Stereogum in a bid to reach a younger, digital-first audience.
By buying a stable of publications that cater to specific types of music fans, the Los Angeles media company is making an aggressive push to dominate online music journalism while expanding its reach beyond its traditional role in the entertainment trade press, according to industry experts.
“In recent years, we set out to own the topic of music online, and the acquisition of these incredible music assets helps us do just that,” said Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Media Group Co-President John Amato in a news release. “By making these storied brands part of our family, the Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Media Group will be able to fully capture the value of millennials and music, and continue to strengthen its leadership position in this critical arena.”
The price of the deal has not been disclosed; neither company returned requests for comment. Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Media Group said in a statement that the combined revenues will exceed $100 million a year, with two-thirds coming from digital and video.
The move comes as legacy publications try to forge new futures online. Spin went fully digital in 2012, and the Hollywood Reporter and Billboard have shifted toward greater visual content under the leadership of President and chief creative officer Janice Min. Both the Hollywood Reporter and Billboard have turned toward video in recent months, including content designed specifically for Facebook Live.
Spin, Vibe and Stereogum reach different types of music fans — an appealing proposition for advertisers targeting specific demographics.
“In a landscape of fragmented audiences, the ability to define and speak to a niche is increasingly important,” Gabriel Kahn, professor of professional practice at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism, said in an email.
The companies said the combined sites will attract 45 million unique visitors per month and one in three American millennials — welcome traffic for the Hollywood Reporter and Billboard, trade publications considered vital by those inside the music and entertainment industry but not necessarily casual fans.
“Find me any millennial that reads the Hollywood Reporter or Billboard,” said Larry Miller, director of New York University’s music business program.
In 2014, the private equity firm MC Partners took a controlling stake in SpinMedia Group. A SpinMedia spokeswoman told the Observer that Spin’s remaining entertainment assets — including Celebuzz!, the Playlist and the Frisky — will also be spun off in separate sales.