×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Rolling Stone Magazine Is Up for Sale

Rolling Stone, the trailblazing music magazine founded by Jann Wenner in 1967, is up for sale. Wenner Media, which sold off a 49% stake in Rolling Stone to Singapore-based BandLab Technologies in 2016, announced today (Sept. 17) that it has retained Methuselah Advisors to explore “strategic options for its majority interest in Rolling Stone to best position the brand for future growth.”

Wenner and his son Gus, president and chief operating officer of Wenner Media, were interviewed by the New York Times where the elder Wenner said he hoped to find a buyer “with lots of money.” He added: “Rolling Stone has played such a role in the history of our times, socially and politically and culturally. We want to retain that position.” The title will celebrate its 50th anniversary in November.

Until recently, Wenner Media was among the largest independent publishers still operating primarily in the print field, with titles Us Weekly and Men’s Journal rounding out its portfolio of magazines. In April, American Media Inc. (AMI), publisher of the National Enquirer, Star, and Men’s Fitness, among other titles, bought Us Weekly — for a reported $100 million, a fraction of the $300 million sale price for a 50% stake that Wenner paid to Disney in 2006 — and Men’s Journal in June (financial terms were not disclosed, but according to an insider, the deal nearly fell apart).

Currently, a diminished Rolling Stone staff occupies a small area on the second floor of 1290 Ave. of the Americas. It has been rumored that Gus Wenner had surveyed a variety of commercial spaces in Brooklyn to which he could potentially move operations. In a recent interview with Bloomberg Business Week, he lamented: “Long-term, I don’t want to be in the business of solely relying on ad revenue with the way things are changing so rapidly.” BBW cited a nearly 10% drop in newsstand sales while online traffic in the U.S. for RollingStone.com had declined by 28%.

Wenner’s holdings shrunk a bit more in early July when it was revealed that Glixel, the gaming site run out of San Francisco and launched by Gus Wenner, had closed, laying off seven staffers and shifting content responsibilities to New York. “Sadly Rolling Stone couldn’t make a remote office in SF work for them and struggled to give us the support and attention we needed to really grow,” read a note by content director Simon Cox. “No harm, no foul.”

The same could not be said for the repercussions following the 2014 publication of “A Rape on Campus,” an article — later retracted in April 2015 — that spoke of a brutal sexual assault at a University of Virginia fraternity house. Rolling Stone and the story’s writer, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, were sued for defamation by former UVA dean Nicole Eramo; After a $3 million judgment in her favor, they settled in April. Rolling Stone also paid out $1.65 million to the Phi Kappa Psi chapter of UVA after the fraternity sued for $25 million. The settlements seem to officially close an unfortunate chapter for a publication that has launched some of the country’s most revered writers and has been recognized with awards and honors throughout its 50-year history.

“[Rolling Stone] would be well-served sticking with the newsstand special model,” says one publishing veteran who has worked with Wenner titles, referring to the perfect-bound one-off issues — under the banner Special Collectors Edition — that focus on a specific act or theme, sell for $12.99, and spend multiple weeks, sometimes months, on the newsstand. “Or they could go quarterly, but it stands to reason that Rolling Stone would live on in some printed form.” The increasingly thin biweekly edition, which once generated revenue of nearly $225 million annually from advertising, however, is a shadow of its former self.

On Oct. 24, Alfred A. Knopf will release Wenner’s biography, “Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine,” written by journalist Joe Hagan and featuring interviews with Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Bono, Art Garfunkel, Elton John, Cameron Crowe, Keith Richards, and David Geffen, among others.

Several notable magazine exits preceded Wenner’s announcement, including the announced departures of Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter, Time Magazine’s Nancy Gibbs and Glamour’s Cindi Leive.

 

More Music

  • Universal Music U.K. Poaches BBC’s Alice

    Universal Music Poaches BBC’s Alice Webb to Run Eagle Rock

    Alice Webb is moving from the BBC to Eagle Rock, the Universal Music U.K.-backed producer and distributor of music programming. Webb has held several senior roles in a 15-year career at the BBC including head of its kids unit and COO of its BBC North division, overseeing the relocation of key departments from London to [...]

  • Daniel Ek Spotify

    New Netflix Original to Tell the Story of Spotify's Creation

    In a case of one disrupter telling the story of another, Netflix has boarded a series about the creation of Spotify, the Swedish startup that’s become one of the world’s leading music services. The as-yet-untitled limited series, to be directed by Per-Olav Sørensen (“Quicksand”), is inspired by the book “Spotify Untold” by Sven Carlsson and [...]

  • Watch Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want

    Watch Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ Amazon Music Mini-Documentary

    Amazon Music today released its brand-new mini-documentary, titled “Mariah Carey Is Christmas: The Story of ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You,’” diving deep into the origin of the blockbuster holiday song. The mini-documentary, created in celebration of the 25th anniversary of her album, “Merry Christmas,” features interviews with Carey, producer Randy Jackson, and other [...]

  • Hipgnosis Acquires Catalog From Jeff Bhasker

    Hipgnosis Acquires Catalog From Bruno Mars-Harry Styles Collaborator Jeff Bhasker

    Hipgnosis Songs Fund has acquired a music catalog from five-time Grammy-winning producer, songwriter and musician Jeff Bhasker. Terms of the deal were not announced, but Bhasker has worked extensively with such artists as Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars (on “Uptown Funk” and Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox” album), Kanye West (“808s & Heartbreak” and “My Beautiful Dark Twisted [...]

  • Juice WRLD - Jarad HigginsWireless Festival,

    Juice Wrld Streams Climb Nearly 500% After His Death

    As often happens after an unexpected death, Juice Wrld’s music soared in popularity after his passing on Sunday, with streams climbing nearly 500% on that day alone. On-demand audio streams for the rapper, who died at the age of 21 after suffering a seizure at Chicago’s Midway Airport, climbed 487% on Sunday to more than [...]

  • Harry Styles performs at the Greek

    First Look at Harry Styles' Ticket-Giveaway Bus (EXCLUSIVE)

    Harry Styles announced Tuesday he is partnering with American Express to give away tickets to his concert at the Forum in Los Angeles on Friday — on a special custom bus. At the show, “Harry Styles Fine Line Live: One Night Only!,” the singer is expected to perform his entire new album, which is also [...]

  • NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER

    Sting, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp Relive '80s Glory Days at Rainforest Benefit

    Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp teamed up for two duets; Debbie Harry and DMC (Darryl McDaniels) collaborated on an epic rap collaboration; and the Eurythmics reunited for a set at Sting and Trudie Styler’s 30th annual Rainforest Benefit at the Beacon Theater in New York City Monday night (Dec. 9). The event  was hosted by [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content