One of the most influential music magazines in the world, Rolling Stone, has taken a big step that will shape its future. Jann Wenner, the founder, has decided to sell a 49 percent stake in the magazine to BandLab Technologies, a bidding digital music service, headed by Kuok Meng Ru, the third son of Singaporean billionaire Kuok Khoon Hong.
Rolling Stone was founded in 1967 and has become a staple of American pop culture. The magazine helped to launch writer and creative artists careers during its 50-year existence. However, like many print incumbents, it has struggled to adapt to the digital age.
The move to sell as much of the brand as possible without losing control is a first for Wenner. This is the first time that he has taken on outside investment. Exact financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
For those worried about the magazine changing much, BandLab reportedly won't be involved in any editorial decisions going forward. Instead they are looking to expand the brand with live events, merchandise and hospitality.
"Our strategic partnership is focused on brand extensions into new areas we haven't quite fully been in the past, such as merchandising, live events, hospitality - they are areas we have dabbled in but never really seriously gone after," said Wenner to Bloomberg. "Meng and his team bring a great deal of understanding, infrastructure, know-how and act in that extraordinarily exciting market of Asia and beyond."
Rolling Stone currently reaches 65 million globally, including 22 digital million unique visitors in the United States. There are another 12 million readers of the US print publication. It publishes 12 international editions in countries like Australia, Japan and Indonesia.