John Kilcullen: President & Publisher, BILLBOARD
In the face of a music industry downturn, Kilcullen has orchestrated a turnaround that is extending a franchise brand far beyond its record-label trade roots.
John Kilcullen and his Billboard staff have initiated redesigns of the 22,000-circ VNU Business Media magazine and its two Web sites, Billboard.com and Billboard.biz. But embedded in those new rollouts is a wholesale and aggressive expansion of the brand into a variety of new markets, making Billboard’s once-primary focus, record label business, part of a much larger product platform as the music business extends into every aspect of popular culture.
Kilcullen staffed up with folks who he says have a "triple threat";print, digital and face-to-face experience, particularly on the reporting side. "They can program a conference, populate a story on the Web, populate an e-newsletter and develop a piece for the weekly magazine," he says.
The expertise has played out well, growing the franchise into the new categories now intersecting with the music industry. The Mobile Entertainment Content, Commerce and Applications Show (MECCA) launched last year and attracted 900 attendees, a VNU Business Media attendance record for a new event. It was profitable at launch. MECCA is one of eight conferences, and contributed to a 76 percent registration boost over 2004. Billboard’s mobile service debuted at the show and now has over 5,000 subscribers at $4 per month. A similar service in Japan has over 25,000 subscribers.
Print, online and digital are seeing growth. The magazine was up 22 percent in ad pages for 2005, online ad revenue was up 28 percent over 2004, and digital magazine subscriptions, launched last year, have 2,500 monthly subscribers at $19.99 per month.
"This was a turnaround," says Kilcullen, who adds that b-to-b is no longer how he sees the franchise. "It’s an entertainment economy publication."
VITAL STATS: The magazine is up 22 percent in ad pages. Online ad revenue is up 28 percent, conference registrations are up 76 percent.