Multiplatform Publication Rolling Stone is Up for Sale

Rolling Stone, the major music-based multiplatform publication, hits the market

Rolling Stone is an iconic multiplatform publication that has been around since the 1960s. After decades of success, the publication has now reached the open market.

Today we’re taking a look at the history of Rolling Stone and what putting this multiplatform publication up for sale means within the publishing industry.

Download a FREE copy of 7 Ways to Monetize your Portal Audience, and discover how today's top publishers are generating revenue through memberships, events, clubs, sponsorships, and more.

An article from the New York Times tracks the history of Rolling Stone, and concludes with insights on the process of selling the multiplatform publication. “From a loft in San Francisco in 1967, a 21-year-old named Jann S. Wenner started a magazine that would become the counterculture bible for baby boomers. Rolling Stone defined cool, cultivated literary icons and produced star-making covers that were such coveted real estate they inspired a song.”

But the headwinds buffeting the publishing industry, and some costly strategic missteps, have steadily taken a financial toll on Rolling Stone, and a botched story three years ago about an unproven gang rape at the University of Virginia badly bruised the magazine’s journalistic reputation.”

And so, after a half-century reign that propelled him into the realm of the rock stars and celebrities who graced his covers, Mr. Wenner is putting his company’s controlling stake in Rolling Stone up for sale, relinquishing his hold on a publication he has led since its founding.”

It’s not surprising to see major changes for multiplatform publications like Rolling Stone, particularly after the difficulties it has experienced over the last few years. Of course, we’re also still seeing many print publications having a hard time as print advertising dollars continue to shrink. As the article points out, “The potential sale of Rolling Stone — on the eve of its 50th anniversary, no less — underscores how inhospitable the media landscape has become as print advertising and circulation have dried up.”

As for the process of selling the publication, it seems there may be some interested buyers, even though Jann and Gus Wenner would not name anyone specific. “Wenner Media has hired bankers to explore its sale, but the process is just beginning. BandLab’s stake in the company could also complicate matters. Neither Jann nor Gus Wenner would name any potential buyers, but one possible suitor is American Media Inc., the magazine publisher led by David J. Pecker that has already taken Us Weekly and Men’s Journal off Wenner Media’s hands.”

Rolling Stone is an iconic magazine that provided a lot to a musical counterculture throughout decades. As a publisher, Jann Wenner has had an impressive run. “The sale of Rolling Stone would be Jann Wenner’s denouement, capping his unlikely rise from dope-smoking Berkeley dropout to silver-haired media mogul. An admirer of John Lennon and publishing mavens like William Randolph Hearst, Mr. Wenner — who invested $7,500 of borrowed money to start Rolling Stone along with his mentor, Ralph J. Gleason — was at turns idealist and desperado, crafting his magazine into a guide for the counterculture epoch while also gallivanting with superstars. He once boasted that he had turned down a $500 million offer for Rolling Stone, more than he could ever dream of getting for the magazine today.”

Do you need to reinvent your multiplatform publishing brand? If so, set up a time to chat with us.  We’ve helped hundreds of publishers update their content offerings, websites, and promotional strategies for success in the digital landscape.


Leave a Reply