Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Word Is The URB

Dear friends, readers and clients,

In 19 years, URB has ridden the highs and lows of the print media industry. And through all of it, we have had a lot of fun staying independent and committed to our audience and brand. But no sea change has been as dramatic and as profound as what has occurred in the past 18 months. To simply blame the prevailing conditions on the financial markets is only partially accurate. We're experiencing an incredible and sweeping shift in consumption and media habits worldwide, especially in the magazine market. It's affecting giant publishers like Condé Nast as well as niche publishers like us.

For these are other reasons (read on), effective after Issue 158 (Summer 2009), we have decided to take a hiatus from the print edition of URB so that we can evaluate the landscape, relaunch URB.COM and decide where we fit in the new, new legacy media ecosystem. But before you file us away in the dead tree pile of deceased brands, we're not troubled by this move (OK, we shed a tear or two). In fact, we're excited by this challange. We think that with the dramatic democratization of the Web (for suppliers and consumers), there are opportunities we could have only dreamed about as URB was forming in 1990. As a matter of fact, if there was a World Wide Web in 1990, we probably wouldn't have printed URB in the first place. Today, we are already immersed in this digital arena and look forward to going much deeper (Have you followed us on Twitter yet @urbmag?). Despite the economy, this is actually a truly great time to be in media.

In the immediate and interim, URB will produce digital editions (Check out this year's Next 100 issue at: www.urb.com/15thNext100), our next one due out in mid-October. We'd love to discuss having your brand involved and explain how our social media distribution model, audience projections and value ads can make a great package that is a real recession rate value. Also, in October, we will be launching the all new URB.COM. And we promise this will be more than a routine facelift. We are rebuilding the entire structure, user interface and content management of the site. We have truly embraced the Web 2.0 (um, 3.0?) world and are thrilled at the prospects of our new site. We'd love to have you be a part of it.

We also have several new initiatives in the works, from events, custom publishing, our expanding interactive and social media network. We see this new economy as an opportunity to diversify and return to some of the original inspiration that started us off almost two decades ago. We'll be in touch to share more but wanted you to be the first to know.

Thanks for everything.
Raymond Leon Roker
Co-Founder and Publisher

P.S. We'll be celebrating URB's 20th year in 2010 with a number of special events, partnerships and announcements. I hope to be working with many of you as we plan our year.

I remember certain times in my musical "upbringing" very vividly, like they happened yesterday. The times when I really got into music and it became a part of who I am: listening to the Beatles with my dad when I was a kid, the first time I heard DJ Shadow's Endtroducing, my first rave, the cliche of blazing to The Chronic, my first Janet Jackson concert (Rhythm Nation), etc. And one of those times, would definitely be the first time I picked up a copy of URB. I'll be giving away most of the bank here, but I remember when URB was free and was like a newspaper. Of course they eventually turned pro, and I always loved flipping through dope pictures and great articles; going through the new issue of URB with a fine-tooth comb and looking at the artists that would be "Next". It was a great education for this whole electronic music generation. In many ways, Getdownnn is a spawn of what URB has started. They are the foundation. I hope that they will keep their promise and come back stronger than ever in 2010, but with print magazines like XXL & VIBE gone, it seems like the horizon is closer than we'd like to think. Please continue to support URB through their website and blogs, I know I will.



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