Billboard Pro Closes After Just 4 Months

image from pro.billboard.com Billboard has closed new registration to its independent and d.i.y. artist subscription site Billboard Pro after just over 4 months of operation. "We are not accepting new registrations at this time, pending a revamp and relaunch of the site later this year," reads a notice offering no hint of a relaunch date.  Existing users paying $9.99 a month or $99 a year will continue to get "the benefits of Billboard Pro membership" while they "work to enhance the service."

Billboard Pro offered analytics that tracked online and social activity, airplay and sales. Subscribers also had access to editorial including how-to's guides, case studies and industry profiles, as well as, chances to perform and participate in Billboard events and conferences.

From the start, hwever, some in the d.i.y. music community were distrustful of Pro's connections to the old school industry. "Why would any indie artist support this corporate brand," commented one Hypebot reader after the launch. "It represents the antithesis of indie music."  Others were dissatisfied with site policies. "You have to enter your payment info just to check it out," wrote d.i.y. marketer Eric Hebert of Evolver.com,  "and you have to claim your band via it's MySpace page."

With dozens of online publications including Hypebot and MusicThinkTank along with artist services startups offering free resources, collecting even $99 from a generation of musicians less impressed by the Billboard brand may have proven impossible. "100% of this content is available free, and better written, elsewhere online," according to indie rapper Hump Jones. "All they really have to offer is a logo."

Will you miss Billboard Pro? Do you think it will return?

The original Billboard Pro pitch video:

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  1. It’s worth noting that Midem is spreading its aim towards the new, smaller players in the biz too. It was inevitable, and I said so three years ago. The question – as pointedly put in the article – is can something perceived as “industry” appeal to the DIY mentality. I’d say they have a lot to offer, but might need to bring serious added value beyond what is readily available elsewhere. Calling it “pro” is already a strange move, as Billboard is hardly a consumer magazine.

  2. Billboard is in a weird position. All music blogs get their news from Billboard, but it’s hard to charge for news.
    The DIY community is really small with no money.

  3. So clients who paid to be part of Billboard Pro are basically out their money. What are the benefits you get at this point? Interesting that Billboard Pro just a few days ago asked one of my clients who had joined (not at my advice I might add) to start promoting their featured profile with links and banners. Why? You can’t register to read the profile.

  4. The initial Billboard Pro offering didn’t really add a lot of value to DIY musicians. Considering the fact that there are already tools to use as an analytics dashboard like Next Big Sound and sites like this that provide case studies and how-to guides, Billboard Pro seemed like a late addition to the game. The biggest value seemed to be the potential to get a mention in Billboard Magazine (it’s not necessarily “pay to play”, but it’s pretty close).
    Also, I stopped one of my clients from signing up for the service when I saw the MySpace Music account requirement. I can understand the service’s needs for a central social network to gather information from, but the fact that they chose MySpace Music showed how out of touch they are with the DIY/Independent music industry.

  5. Actually Billboard has always seemed underused in music blogging to me and I think that’s a problem for them. It makes them seem less relevant in DIY settings.
    Plus, they generally haven’t published stuff that is relevant to indies. Offering a paid service for such people when that’s not their area of expertise is a path to failure.
    And I never saw any promotional material on Billboard Pro or any news about it and didn’t know it existed until now!

  6. I talked to somebody who was trying to work with them on a web initiative about six years ago when music blogging was starting to get institutionalized. He said he had so many people to report to that it just wasn’t worth doing.
    That traditional corporate structure and, possibly, the belief that their brand is stronger in indie circles than it actually is, makes it difficult for a company like Billboard to successfully pursue such projects.

  7. That’s a terribly incorrect blanket statement. While there may be an occasional article “sourced” back to Billboard, next to no content comes from them aside from sales reports and chart position.
    The majority of “news” comes to music blogs and websites via publicists and labels – hundreds of them – along with info direct from the artist, whether by email or social networks.
    Saying that “all music blogs get their news from Billboard” is something I’d expect to hear from an industry dinosaur that still thinks that “everyone reads Rolling Stone.”

  8. Who would sign up for this? It was just a pay wall for next big sound (which is completely free, their paid version is not worth it).

  9. I was in the beta program with a few artists I was working with and was pleased with the service overall. The analytical tools were useful and the customer service was top notch. Shortly after signing up (yes we paid the $99 fee) one of the artists I was working with was selected for “artist of the week”. Maybe we were one of the lucky ones but that well paid for the service fee at least 10x over. We were promoted across all of the Billboard brand which may be antiquated but is still an industry magnate. The Pro division was getting 4 page spreads in all of the magazines, offering artists special opportunities to play certain Billboard events, promotional opportunities, and some of the online tools were quite useful. Sounds like a a financial problem.

  10. Thanks for sharing the information with me. The article was extremely informative and I look foward to reading more soon.

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