Saturday Night Business Speculation

You know, I’d hate to give the impression that I belong to one of these Internets groups, where nerds get together to discuss various forms of hip-hop media advertising and what have you, but… well, yesterday one of the guys from my hip-hop ads group sent me a link to this list, and it got me to thinking.

The list is a list of ad revenues for black magazines for the month of March, 2008, and their percent change from the same month last year. It was put together by a site called Target Market News, a trade publication for black marketing professionals, which purports to be “the black consumer market authority.”

Um, yeah.

For example, the lonely black woman’s bible, Essence, which is apparently the top-ranking black magazine in terms of ad revenue, raked in about $19 million in ad revenue last month, up from about $14 million in March of 2007 – a 39.1% increase.


I could describe the list for you in more detail, but you’re probably better off just checking it out for yourself.

‘Essence’ ranks No.1 in ad revenues for March; ‘The Green’ has biggest gain

A few things I should note about this list, before we go any further:

First of all, I’d never heard of Target Market News before until just now. It could very well be the case that it’s actually a front for an online prostitution ring, like that site, the Panache Report, that puts together those lists of the wealthiest individuals in hip-hop.

Also, I wonder how Target Market News would even know how much each of these magazines makes each month in ad revenue. Supposedly, these figures come from estimations by the Media Economics Group, but it doesn’t say who they are or how they would know.

That said, I thought the most interesting thing about the list is the fact that The Source makes about as much in ad revenue as XXL, my would-be benefactor. This time last year, The Source was only pulling in about a million dollars a month in ad revenue, but this year they’ve experienced an 88% increase, to draw about even with XXL for March of 2008, i.e. last month.


I guess I had never given it much thought, never having been privy to either of these magazine’s financial information, but I would’ve thought for certain that XXL would be pulling in way more money in ad revenue than The Source. Why else would XXL put these god-awful corporate rappers on its cover month after month, while The Source will put seemingly any ol’ bullshit on its cover?

I thought that was supposed to count for something, but apparently I was mistaken.

Of course it used to be the case that some of the companies wouldn’t advertise with The Source at all, back when Benzino was still in the building. XXL had already been around for a few years at that point, but I thought it really started to pick up steam when Dave Mays and Benzino went on their little jihad against Eminem, and the TIs at Interscope decided to pull their ad money from The Source. I think it even says as much in the Wikipedia entry for XXL.

I remember a couple of years ago, when The Source was struggling to recover from the Mayzino era and it looked like it might even go out of business. They put out a special anniversary issue, which wasn’t actually special in the least bit, and then they just kinda up and disappeared for a while. A few months later, I picked up a new issue, and there was a big-ass ad in the front of it, where the editor in chief basically begged the TIs to start spending money with them again.

I guess it worked.

I’m assuming that the reason why the ad revenue for the two magazines is roughly the same is that they both cater to roughly the same demographic, and these record labels and makers of silly-looking ghetto clothes and what have you aren’t gonna spend more money with either magazine to reach essentially the same group of people.

I know the “reach” of each magazine, based on its newsstand sales and subscriber base plays into it, but I’m not sure to what extent. Based on these figures, I’d say that neither one of these magazines is selling enough copies to have any kind of meaningful advantage over the other in terms of ad revenue.

At any rate, I’d say these figures definitely provide some fascinating insight into the business side of the hip-hop magazine game. Here’s a few conclusions I managed to draw from them based – I’ll admit – mostly on conjecture and my usual bullshit.

1) Now you can see why the TIs at Harris have been busy cleaning shop as of late. For all of the times that XXL has put Fiddy Cent on the cover, it hasn’t really been dominating The Source, now has it? It basically is The Source, just with classier art design.

2) Putting out a classier magazine, however, costs money. Keep in mind that the figures on this list are just ad revenues for the month, not profits. It’d be interesting to see how much of that $2 million each of these companies is left with once they get done paying people.

3) The Source, in that sense, might actually be in a better position, since they already have a reputation for not paying people, and I believe they’ve had it arranged so that they’re no longer accountable for paying all of the people that Dave Mays and Benzino stiffed over the years.

4) Furthermore, the last time I picked up an issue of The Source, its list of contributors looked like some of the bums who used to write for AllHipHop. I don’t even think it has an editor in chief – though I’ve never been sure what an editor in chief does, other than write those dumbass editorials.

5) Speaking of which, I would imagine this sheds some light on the pressure XXL’s former editor in chief was facing, before he got dropped like a bad habit. I’m sure it pained him to have to put Lil’ Wayne on the cover every other month. He was probably just at a loss for other ways to increase XXL’s brand image in the mind of the consumer.

Finally, I should note that these figures don’t include online revenue. Obviously that wouldn’t be much of an issue for The Source, since they don’t have much of a website. But one of the guys from my group, who might be somewhat privy to XXL’s online advertising dealings, estimates XXL’s online ad revenue as being maybe 1/6th or 1/10th of its revenue from print advertising.’

If that’s the case, I’d imagine this site must do pretty well for the TIs at Harris, since I can’t imagine it costs very much money to operate it. The hosting fees, I would imagine, are fairly negligible; and the banal q&a interviews posted in the features section, Noz once told me, are all written by bum-ass college students who are willing to work for free, under the impression that it might help boost their careers in hip-hop journalism.

I would call them all suckers, but I’m hardly in any position to gloat.

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  • yaman


  • icee

    i think xxl should have keep yellow n#%%@ i really enjoyed reading the editorials at the beginning of the mag when i was done actually reading the articals i was interested in at that time.

  • Casey

    It’s cuz XXL puts wack rappers like Game on the cover, looking like a black Zoolander…

    • EReal

      LMAO @ Black Zoolander

  • 7 V5A 7

    Jet > XXL,The Source,Vibe,King,Essence…these bums barely have any advertising(besides malt liquor and stacey adams ads),cover story is not an actual interview, and seems like it is written by the beauty of the week and they are still in business for 40+ years….now thats COLD

  • Incilin

    “and the banal q&a interviews posted in the features section, Noz once told me, are all written by bum-ass college students who are willing to work for free, under the impression that it might help boost their careers in hip-hop journalism.”

    Ouch! Got me there. Although I’m a bit more interested in journalism as a whole than just hip hop journalism.

  • Big Homie from da 410

    hahahahaha im dead . after the zoolander comment. the fuck is this fool thinking

  • og bobby j

    why would anyone want to purchase a collection of pages filled with clothing ads, ignorant interviews, more fake jewelry ads, pics of ex-strippers turned video hoe (ok, that part is cool) and more shitty interviews? The only company that should advertise with these mags is cadillac….cause that shit spread through the demographic like fleas….got cats in the pj’s 2 months back on they rent rocking the new cts…

  • b-ease

    Damn…that Miss Info pull pissed you off huh bol? u kinda ehtered xxl…well, not kind of.

  • moresickaMC

    sigh….dont we all miss the glory days of The Source? I still remember when Fugees were on the cover. heaven

  • DXL

    LOL@bum ass college students who are willing to work for free, well they have to start somewhere, sure people called Puffy “bum ass college student” when he was interning for Uptown.
    On the real, who cares how much they make in ad revenues apart from Harris? XXL magazine content now sucks, take it from someone that has bought every single copy since 1997, the Nas issue sucked, Snoop sucked bigger balls and the G unit one, come on I read the whole issue whilst taking a shit and thought about wiping my ass with it…the best thing about the last issue is the Rocawear Ad campaing picture with Ciara, shit, I always overlooked her since she doesn’t have a phatty like Maliah, Angel and them but now I appreciate ma…XXL are gonna be out of business soon, where’s Hiphop soul? The bullshit XXL’s putting out lately has me looking forward to Benzino’s Monsta.

    • EReal

      [II] @ Benzino’s Monsta

  • raoul

    2 million in advertsing??
    Damn that’s better than nothing. Anyway, download african hip hop on this site

  • EReal

    People tend to lose interest when your “Future of HipHop” list includes trash ass LCD Rap garbage.

    This site and the mag both fell the fuck off and I dont think anyone has the answer to fixing it over there. Not just after YN left, after YN left the site went to shit, but the mag has been fallin off. Now they want us to take a fuckin poll to help them fix their shit, lmao. *SMH* Sucks, I like it here. lol.

    Bol spittin fire on his own employers, lmaoooo, this may be your last post homie! (No BXS)

  • stoneyisland

    The source has lost all credibilty and I wouldnt wipe my ass with it. XXL is a little better but if they keep acting like they are Source-lite, I am gonna stop fucking with them as well and start reading Readers Digest and shit:)

  • Ryan

    They stripped me naked had me lift my ballsack up so they could check underneath it, and then had me bend over and spread my asscheeks apart so they could look inside my asshole.

  • P-Matik

    I stopped paying for XXL when it seemed that everyone in the “Show & Prove” section had to have a criminal record just to get in there.

  • akaTheRealist

    “Noz once told me, are all written by bum-ass college students who are willing to work for free, under the impression that it might help boost their careers in hip-hop journalism.”

    - AS IF there’s any money in hip-hop journalism anyway. They’d be working for free regardless.

  • Gok

    So true about XXL. I bought it once and was disgusted by the amount of crap in it. There was all this shitty jewellery in the back that looked like it came from some costume studio. Then there was far too many clothes adverts. They had some gay story aas an advert for all these clothes. I admit some of the clothes were cool but half the time it looked like some cheap imitations.

    Plus the rappers in it were wack. Mostly filled with wack artists that little kids like and the ones to watch bit or whatever the fuck it was called featured some dumbass guys that only rapped cause theyd been in prison and sold crack (supposedly).