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Music Business 3.0: Clickbait

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These are just a sample of headlines that I’ve read over the last week or two. Where did I find these stories? Page Six? No. TMZ? Nope. Entertainment Weekly? Nein. National Enquirer? Not a chance. Although these and many more media outlets would doubtless run celebrity gossip and scandal. So where did I see these headlines? Billboard Magazine.

Billboard Magazine has a long history as a respected trade publication in the music industry. It has been in circulation for over 125 years, and during that time, the magazine has gone through many changes. The magazine has always covered a variety of music-related topics, including news, reviews, and industry analysis. In recent years, however, it appears to me that the magazine has shifted its focus away from serious music journalism and toward celebrity gossip and scandal, better known as clickbait.

The transformation of Billboard Magazine has had a significant impact on the music industry. For one, it has shifted the focus away from the music and onto the personalities behind it. This has led to a culture of celebrity worship, with fans more interested in the personal lives of their favorite artists than the music they produce. Additionally, the magazine has become increasingly sensationalized, with stories that are more focused on clicks and headlines than actual music news.

A major factor in the magazine’s transformation is the rise of celebrity culture. In recent years, celebrity gossip and personal drama has become an integral part of popular culture. As a result, publications like Billboard have had to adjust in order to keep up with the changing times.

The perception of Billboard as a celebrity gossip rag is the increased focus on popular music and the mainstream music industry. As the music industry has become more focused on the commercial success of individual artists and their personalities, rather than the art and craft of music making, media outlets have followed suit by covering more celebrity-focused stories. This has led to an increase in coverage of celebrity scandals, gossip, and personal lives in Billboard, which can be seen as a departure from its more serious industry coverage.

The transformation of Billboard Magazine from a respected trade publication to a celebrity gossip rag is indicative of the larger changes in the music industry. As the industry has shifted away from album sales and towards streaming, the focus of the magazine has had to adjust in order to keep up with the times. Additionally, the rise of celebrity culture has led to a culture of celebrity worship, with fans more interested in the personal lives of their favorite artists than the music they produce.

The rise of social media and digital media has indisputably changed the way people consume news and entertainment, and many media outlets have responded by increasing the amount of celebrity-focused content they produce. As a result, Billboard may have felt pressure to keep up with the competition and provide more of this type of content to retain its audience and stay relevant.

Mind you, Billboard still features it’s many charts, considered to be the industry standard, weekly news, interviews and profiles, music reviews, and event and concert information, among other music related topics. It has had several top-notch editors like Tamara Coniff, Janice Min, Bill Werde, the great Sam Sutherland, and Timothy White. But since being purchased in 1987 by Nielsen, it has gradually taken a noticeable turn from music industry nuts and bolts to consumer glossy.

To be honest, I haven’t seen a physical copy of Billboard in at least 10 years and don’t know anyone who has, though I have seen digital copies online, and it’s pretty slick. A friend who owns a record store (the last of the Mohicans) relied on Billboard for decades before dropping his print subscription 10 years ago. He no longer found the magazine useful. But to their credit, they created a new, industry news subscription website and newsletter, Billboard Pro, and it’s pretty good. But you can get the same coverage from a number of different outlets that do not traffic in clickbait.

My advice to anyone who wants serious coverage of the music industry is subscribe to Music Ally, Music Business Worldwide or even the more broadly focused MediaTainment Finance. These publications offer very wide international music industry coverage with a straight ahead point of view and no bullshit about tattoos, cheating boyfriends or feuds between rappers. After all, isn’t that what Page Six is for?

 

 


Photo by GreenMeansGo, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Author

  • Wayne Rosso

    Wayne Rosso has worked in music and technology for decades. He has worked with such artists as Aerosmith, Bee Gees, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Public Image LTD., Beach Boys, Phillip Glass, Fleetwood Mac, Rick James, New Kids on the Block, Slash, Evanescence and scores of others.

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