Bill Werde Exits Billboard Magazine. Is This The End Of An Era?
Bill Werde, Bilboard Magazine's Editorial Director since 2008, has abruptly exited the music trade publication. Owners Guggenheim Partners have announced that Janice Min, who transformed their Hollywood Reporter from dull movie trade rag to glitzy glossy, will now add helmsman of Billboard to her portfilio.
No mention of Werde's exit was made when announcing Min's arrival, but Werde has since tweeted that he is "leaving" Billboard. "Mine has been an amazing seat from which to watch the entertainment business evolve" Werde wrote on his blog. "Guggenheim Digital has expressed interest in me working to develop some new ideas within their framework of companies, and I look forward to applying an entrepreneurial approach to the entertainment and media realms that we’ve all spent so much time studying. More soon!"
Werde spent much of the last 5 years as the very public face of Billboard. But his efforts to transform the publication, even as the music industry was undergoing seismic transformation, have sometimes gotten mixed reviews.
An initiative designed to serve newly empowered independent musicians fell flat; and efforts by some artists and labels to find new marketing and sales channels often led to exclusion from the venerable Billboard Charts. After Amazon sold a hot Lady Gaga album for 99 cents, Billboard decided that anything priced under $5 wouldn't count. But months later, when Jay Z made a deal with Samsung to buy 1 million copies at $5 each and give them away, Werde & Company decided those didn't count as sales either.
What's Next For Billboard?
“It’s the music industry after all,” Min said in an interview this week. “We should be able to have some fun with it.”
Min has turned The Hollywood Reporter into a gossipy hip Hollywood magazine. But at same time, she has not abandoned in-depth journalism, including about the music industry. In fact, in recent months, a sizable number of articles on Billboard.biz and in the print edition were written for and first published on HR.
The music industry, however, is not as big or rich as the film business; and whether there's a profitable niche for Prez Hilton meets The Atlantic, remains to be seen.