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Want to read some history…?
Billboard is an entertainment media brand owned by The Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Media Group. It publishes news, video, opinion, reviews, events and style. It is known for music charts, including the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard 200, tracking the most popular songs and albums in different genres. It also hosts events, owns a publishing firm, and operates several TV shows.
Billboard was founded in 1894 by William Donaldson and James Hennegan as a trade publication for bill posters. Donaldson later acquired Hennegen's interest in 1900 for $500. In the 1900s, it covered the entertainment industry, such as circuses, fairs and burlesque shows. It also created a mail service for travelling entertainers. Billboard began focusing more on the music industry as the jukebox, phonograph and radio became commonplace. Many topics it covered were spun-off into different magazines, including Amusement Business in 1961 to cover outdoor entertainment, so that it could focus on music.
After Donaldson died in 1925, Billboard was passed down to his children and their children, until it was sold to private investors in 1985. The magazine continued to change hands to Affiliated Publications (1987), VNU/Nielsen (1994) and its current owner, Prometheus Global Media (2009). As of 2015, it has been shifting to have more of a consumer focus.
Focus on music
Billboard's editorial changed focus as technology in recording and playback developed. It covered "marvels of modern technology" like the phonograph, record players and wireless radios. It began covering coin operated entertainment machines in 1899 and created a dedicated section for them called "Amusement Machines" in March 1932. Billboard began covering the motion picture industry in 1907,but ended up focusing on music due to competition from Variety. It created a Billboard radio broadcasting station in the 1920s.
The jukebox industry continued to grow through the Great Depression and advertised heavily in Billboard. This led to even more editorial focus on music. The proliferation of the phonograph and radio also contributed to its growing music emphasis. Billboard introduced a "Record Buying Guide" in January 1939. In 1940, it introduced "Chart Line", which tracks the best-selling records. This was followed by a chart for jukebox records in 1944 called Music BoxMachine charts. By the 1940s, Billboard was more of a music industry specialist publication. The number of charts it published grew after World War II, due to a growing variety of music interests and genres. It had eight charts by 1987, covering different genres and formats, and 28 charts by 1994.
By 1943, it had about 100 employees. The magazine's offices moved to Brighton, Ohio in 1946, then to New York City in 1948. A five-column tabloid format was adopted in November 1950 and coated paper was first used in Billboard’s print issues in January 1963, allowing for photojournalism.Billboard Publications Inc. acquired a monthly trade magazine for candy and cigarette machine vendors called Vend and, in the 1950s, acquired an advertising trade publication called Tide. By 1969, Billboard Publications Inc. owned eleven trade and consumer publications, a publisher called Guptill Publications, a set of self-study cassette tapes and four television franchises. It also acquired Photo Weekly that year.
Over time, the subjects Billboard still covered outside of music were spun-off into separate publications. Funspot magazine was created in 1957 to cover amusement parks and Amusement Business was created in 1961 to cover outdoor entertainment. In January 1961, Billboard was renamed to Billboard Music Week to emphasize its new exclusive interest in music. Two years later, it was renamed to just Billboard. According to The New Business Journalism, by 1984, Billboard Publications was a “prosperous” conglomerate of trade magazines and Billboard had become the “undisputed leader” in music industry news. In the early 1990s, Billboard introduced Billboard Airplay Monitors, a publication for disc jockeys and music programmers. By the end of the 1900s, Billboard dubbed itself the “bible” of the recording industry. [Wikipedia]