Mag Bag: 'Urban Metro' Launches

Mag cover of Urban Metro Spring 2009Urban Metro Launches

You read right: Unfazed by the recession and a spate of magazine closings, a new quarterly magazine about urban style for young men, UrbanMetro, is set to debut with a subscription base of 20,000. The brainchild of Vice President and Publisher Damon Ceaser will be produced by his company Ceaser Media Group. The magazine will cater to African-American and Hispanic men ages 18-34. Content will draw on various overlapping style genres, like hip-hop and sneaker culture.

UrbanMetro is obviously launching in a difficult environment--especially for men's fashion magazines, which struggled even in the best of times. Conde Nast closed Cargo, a young men's shopping magazine, in March 2006; Alpha Media closed Stuff in October 2007; and Conde shuttered Men's Vogue as a stand-alone publication in November 2008. A more troubling precedent is the closing of Mass Appeal, a men's fashion magazine for urban hipsters, in April 2008.



However, UrbanMetro has done its homework. Before launching as a print magazine, the title gauged interest with an online issue that was promoted via social-networking sites like MySpace. After drawing 50,000 unique visitors, Ceaser Media was able to sign up 20,000 subscribers with email marketing. The magazine will also be promoted by RealTalkLive, an online radio show produced by Ceaser Media. UrbanMetro hopes to achieve a subscription base of 100,000 by the end of 2009.

Vibe Cuts Back

Things aren't looking so great for another magazine targeting the urban market. Vibe, a monthly music magazine covering hip-hop, is cutting its base from 800,000 to 600,000, following an earlier cut from 850,000 in 2008. The magazine is also pulling back on its publication schedule--from 12 issues per year to 10--and moving its staff to a four-day work week. Music magazines in general are having a hard time, but Vibe has been hit especially hard. Ad pages in its February issue were down 43% to 33.5, according to MIN Online. The most recent report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations said its newsstand sales fell 10.8% in the second half of 2008, compared to the same period in 2007, while paid subscriptions fell 19.6%.

Three More Casualties: Figure, Craft, Mountain Time

Casualties of the recession keep piling up, with three more magazines closing this week. Meredith Corp. said that Figure, a custom publication produced with Charming Shoppes targeting "plus-size" women, will cease publication with its March-April issue; the magazine's Web site is also shutting down. Also this week, O'Reilly Media closed the print edition of Craft, a magazine targeting younger women with "indie crafts" content, citing the costs of print and distribution; the brand remains online. Finally, Forbes closed Mountain Time, its regional lifestyle magazine targeting well-heeled executives who frequent Western ski resorts, which launched a year ago.

Postal Rates To Rise 4% For Periodicals

As if they didn't have enough problems, periodicals will soon see their postage rates go up 4% (actually, 3.976%), according to the United States Postal Service, which announced the increase earlier this week. That's a bigger increase than for any other type of mail; the rates are scheduled to go up on May 11.

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