In the latest sign that electronic dance music is invading the mainstream, Vibe magazine is opening its pages and its website to the genre.
Quincy Jones and Time Inc. founded Vibe nearly 20 years ago to cover hip-hop, a mission the magazine has steadfastly pursued through its own ups and downs over the years. The Wicks Group, a private-equity firm, bought Vibe in 2006, immediately instituting layoffs, later cutting its paid circulation and ultimately shutting it down in 2009.
When buyers led by private-equity firm InterMedia brought Vibe back from the dead as a digital-centered property with a bimonthly website, they promised to broaden the magazine's focus beyond hip-hop to include other genres of music and entertainment. But electronic dance music remained outside its scope until this month, when Vibe.com added a section dedicated to it. Now the cover of its upcoming August/September issue is pairing rapper Azealia Banks with Diplo, a DJ prominent in electronic dance music.
Electronic dance music has been quickly gaining popularity, winning the interest of concert moguls and concertgoers alike. Rolling Stone has also been covering electronic dance music more, recently putting "electronic dance music superstar Deadmau5" on the cover of its "Dance Madness" summer special.
Embracing the genre might help Vibe magazine, which is struggling more than others on the newsstand. Its single-copy sales in the first half of the year declined 43.2% from the first half of 2011, according to the new report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations this week.
But the website has been growing in any case, attracting 950,000 unique visitors in July, up 68% from a year ago, according to ComScore.
Vibe Media CEO Ari Horowitz said adding electronic dance music coverage was less a play for new readers than an attempt to follow its existing audience. "I don't think people see themselves aligned with a particular musical genre as much," he said. "A lot of these hip-hop artists and pop artists are collaborating with these electronic dance music DJs. We need to follow that ."