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Billboard, the Pioneering Magazine of the Music Industry in the World

Billboard is an American media brand (currently owned by Eldridge Industries ), focusing on publishing a monthly magazine specialized in international entertainment, primarily related to the music industry. The history of Billboard, in turn, describes the evolution of the world of commercial music concerning its mediatization, hence its relevance and why it represents both the United States and the country that influences everyone’s life.

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Donaldson managed the editorial (texts and other types of content) and advertising, serving as a sales executive to different clients. At the same time, Hennegan, who owned Hennegan Printing Co., directed the production of the magazines from a design and printing point of view and did this work with other publishing products that would be part of Billboard’s parent company.
The first copies had only eight pages, something prevalent in a magazine based solely on advertising (although at that time, it would be considered a newspaper since the magazines were more extensive). Its periodicity was monthly; It had columns like ” The Bill Room Gossip,” ” The Tireless and Tireless Industry of the Bill Poster, ” related to business activity growth in the State of Ohio. And the sale price to the public was 10 cents, the average cost of this type of product at the time.

Evolution of Billboard Magazine Content

After a brief game over editorial differences, Donaldson bought Hennegan’s interest in the business in 1900 for $ 500 (an amount equivalent to about $ 14,700 today). In May of that year, Donaldson changed the periodicity of The Billboard from monthly to weekly. Also giving it a greater emphasis on breaking news, especially the economic and social sphere. As it did not intend to compete with political news newspapers. And international ones like The New York Times, Washington Post, and other regional newspapers.

He also created sections dedicated to outdoor entertainment to cover fairs, carnivals, circuses, vaudeville shows, and burlesque. In 1900 a team devoted to circus shows (which were very popular for the time) was introduced, followed by a section, in 1901, for the coverage of exhibitions, which were the most important fairs in the cities.

Exotic or strange. It had a “stage gossip” column that elucidated the private lives of artists (that was new for the time), a “tent show” section that encompassed traveling galas. And a subsection called ” Freaks to order, ” which reviewed shows. It also covered news related to financial regulation issues and lack of professionalism in some activities in the sector. According to The Seattle Times, Donaldson also published newspaper articles to ” attack censorship, praise productions that display ‘good taste,’ and fight yellow journalism .”
In this sense, Donaldson significantly improved the editorial quality of his publication and gave it Variety so that different types of public were interested in it. At the same time, he made new investments. Opening new offices in cities such as New York, Chicago, San Francisco, London, and Paris.


In the old days, magazines were distributed through a subscription system that sent copies directly to readers’ homes or through street vendors (the famous “paperboys”). As the railroads developed further, Billboard established a mail delivery system for traveling artists so that they. Too, could subscribe to have copies of the magazine. By 1914, 42,000 people were using this service.
Billboard was also use as the official address for traveling artists for draft letters sent to/from the battlefields in WWI, which remain until shortly after WWII. Billboard was still processing 1,500 letters a week when the service was discontinue in the 1960s.
Today, Billboard magazine can be found on newsstands, bookstores, and websites specializing in the sale of editorial products.

Focus on music

Billboard changed its focus again as recording and playback technology developed. It covered “marvels of modern technology” such as the phonograph, record player, and wireless radios in specialized technology reports. He began to protect the invention of coin-operated amusement machines in 1899 and created a dedicated section for them in March 1932, called ” Amusement Machines .” It also began to cover the events of the film industry in 1907. Still, it focus on music due to intense competition with Variet. Which was perhaps the only magazine dedicate to entertainment at the time.

The record player industry continued to grow during the Great Depression. It was heavily publicize on Billboard, in fact, that, all through this time. The boom in broadcasting around the world began thanks to the invention and proliferation of the phonograph. And Billboard create a radio station in the 1920s to take advantage of this boom. It led the magazine to an approach more linked to the music world that would mark its way from then until today.
Billboard published the first hit parade on January 4, 1936, and introduced a “Record Buying Guide” in January 1939. It also introduced “Chart Line” the following year. A column that tracked the best-selling records to which it accompanied with a review made by experts in the field.

The business after the Second Great War

Unlike other businesses, editorial communication flourish almost uninterruptedly during the 20th century. And Billboard was no exception (despite a minor crisis in the 1920s that will be describe later). By the 1940s, it had grown into a relatively large company. In 1943, it had around 100 employees, and in 1948 its main offices moved to New York City.
[In] November 1950, it became a five-column tabloid newspaper. [In] 1963, the type of paper changed and had a cover of glassé paper for the first time. Which had become the trend of the time, thus allowing the appearance of photojournalism.

The “Billboard” brand was under the tutelage of a parent company, called Billboard Publications Inc. This exclusively private company also acquired the protection. Of a monthly magazine dedicated to sellers of sweets and cigarette machines called ” Vend” and, in the 1950s. It also receive a publication called ” Tide,” which, like Billboard at first, was also dedicate exclusively to conventional advertising. Since Billboard had changed its editorial focus. Tide was coming to regain a market share that, while more minor, was not okay to lose.

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