Billboard has shut down Billboard Pro, the subscription-based online service it launched last year aimed at unsigned and independent artists, which was seen as an attempt by the veteran US industry trade mag to appeal – both in terms of content and price point – to the new style indie music community that is operating outside of the traditional record industry and retail infrastructure where the B2B title traditionally sold most of its subscriptions.
The new service, priced at $99 a year, went online last March, but was put on hold in terms of new subscribers in August. At the time Billboard publisher Prometheus Media Group insisted it was still committed to the new platform, and was just putting things on hold to review how it worked, but last week it was confirmed that the indie community-focused spin off was shutting for good.
The publisher said in a statement “Billboard Pro has been discontinued, effective 1 Mar 2012. We will be moving our DIY and indie artist-focused content to a new section on Billboard.biz in the coming weeks, and the Uncharted Chart will continue to operate on Billboard.com”.
It’s assumed few self-releasing artists were persuaded to pay even $99 a year when so much free content about digital music and the DIY scene is available from other blogs and websites, while various prolific tweeters and music distribution services aggregate industry news for free for the same audience.
The news comes as Digital Music News posts a report alleging rising discontent amongst staff at the trade title over a lack of resources, which – DMN claims – has led to a string of journalists and execs leaving the magazine, taking years of experience and knowledge about the industry with them. Meanwhile, DMN also claims, backers of Prometheus Global Media, which bought Billboard and a stable of other trade titles off Nielsen in 2009, are likely to look for further savings in the coming months.
Some still wonder whether Billboard and sister title The Hollywood Reporter could be merged – the former’s website taking an increased amount of content from the latter – though both are such strong brands any such consolidation would be controversial.