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 early years of the 20th century, Billboard it covered the entertainment industry, such as circuses, fairs, and burlesque shows, and also created a mail service for travelling entertainers. The company 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 Hennegan's children, until it was sold to private investors in 1985, and has since been owned by various parties.
Billboard publishes pieces involving news, video, opinion, reviews, events, and style, and is also known for its music charts, including the 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.