“Rolling Stone Country” Readies Big Launch

April 15, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  28 Comments


As first announced in early December of 2013, Rolling Stone is planning a move into the country music realm this year, and in a big way. With a million-dollar website planned and a long-term outlook and commitment, one of the most recognized brands in music journalism will certainly make a splash in the country genre when rollingstone.com/country goes live June 1st. Rolling Stone joins a long list of media companies looking to expand into country music and take advantage of the perceived rising interest in the genre.

Manning the helm of Rolling Stone‘s new office on Music Row in Nashville at 1510 16th Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37212 will be two veterans of the country music print and online space. Senior Editor Beville Darden-Dunkerley was one of the first Rolling Stone Country employees to be brought on board, and is currently a writer for Rolling Stone. As the founder of TheBoot.com, Dunkerley certainly knows her way around the website startup process. The Boot was once part of AOL’s Music’s blog empire before being shut down in April of 2013. Eventually The Boot was acquired by Townsquare Media—a media company that owns numerous radio stations, as well as the country music blog Taste of Country.

Beville Darden-Dunkerley will be joined on the senior RS Country staff by Joseph Hudak according to Music Row. Joseph was previously the managing editor at Country Weekly, which is currently being re-branded as NASH Magazine. “Joe is not only a terrific writer but is also a walking encyclopedia of Country music — with knowledge that goes way beyond what’s played on terrestrial radio,” Dunkerley told Music Row.

Rolling Stone joins an increasingly crowded marketplace of country music media amidst an arms race that looks to redefine the back end of the genre in 2014. People Magazine just launched a country music section of their website, and the long-running Country Weekly magazine is being re-branded into NASH as part of Cumulus Media’s deeper reach into the country genre. TMZ is also looking to carve out a deeper presence in Nashville.

With all the different media companies ramping up to cover country music, one wonders if there will be enough eyeballs to support it all, despite whatever growth country music might be in the midst of. But Rolling Stone vows their commitment to country will be unwavering. We’re really doubling down on country: in the office, the people, the logo and the art that’s going into the new site,” Rolling Stone online director Gus Wenner said in December, 2013. “You’re going to realize that this thing is for real. This isn’t something we envision putting up and pulling down if ad dollars dry up.”

Rolling Stone Country will only be an online portal, though a special print edition will coincide with the website’s launch.

28 Comments to ““Rolling Stone Country” Readies Big Launch”

  • Everyone’s Gone Country. It is the bandwagon to jump on.

    There’s alot of money to be made. Other genres must be going by the way of the dodo.


  • First cover will be Chely Wright

    Articles include:
    “How Nashville Inc. Holds Back It’s Transgender Artists”
    “The Pickup Truck As A Symbol of White Supremacy”
    “Social Justice & Cut-off Jeans: A Personal Journey”
    “‘Rub A Dub Dub, Three Men In A Tub’ and Other Homophobic Rants By Charlie Robison”
    “How White Supremacy Keeps Darius Rucker From Getting Laid After the CMAs.
    “How President Obama Inspired Eric Church’s ‘The Outsiders””
    “Did We Mention White Supremacy?”


    • I, for one, would like an exposé on Nashville’s transgendered singer/songwriters! ;)

      Oh, it was definitely Obama that inspired the “Our women get hot and our leather gets stained, when we saddle up and ride ‘em in the pouring rain…” lyric! All the single’ sales are probably filling George Soros’ pocket! ;)


    • I really have no idea if “Rolling Stone Country” will have a political element or not. But my guess is with the conservative nature of most mainstream country music fans, it would not be very smart for them to come across as left leaning. To be fair, Rolling Stone has never sold themselves as being exclusively a music magazine, however since the purpose of this country website is to cover music, my guess is they’ll stay out of the political realm, at least mostly out of it.


      • I think most of the mainstream country fans as of right now are apolitical (judging from the nature of the songs), whereas the classic country fans lean conservative.


    • Ha! That made me laugh, though it never occurred to me to think about a possible political angle. Is Rolling Stone still that liberal at this point? I know they have political commentary, but I tend to think of them as an establishment entertainment and music rag. I mean, how truly subversive could they be with the likes of Justin Beiber and Katy Perry posing on the cover?

      What I do find disturbing are names like The Boot and Country Weekly being associated with this new site. Those are slick, corporate country butt-kissing PR publications, aren’t they?


  • I really hope that there will be substance to this creation by Rolling Stone. A large scale media company reporting on music outside the lines of pop country culture would tickle me to death. Then again, I don’t keep up with this entity; therefore, I expect the worst.

    “‘ — with knowledge that goes way beyond what’s played on terrestrial radio,” Dunkerley told Music Row.'” I hope this Joe dude can go beyond Taylor Swift and Luke Bryan; hell beyond Eric Church and Brandy Clark.


  • I do not have high hopes for this put will hope for the best. Cautiously optimistic ! While somewhat certian this will suck :(


  • In a desperate bid to regain relevance, Rolling Stone will undoubtedly hop on the bro country bandwagon.


  • I had to LOL at Juke’s projected first issue article titles! RS is one of the most radically leftist “mainstream” publications in the marketplace and even their magazine covers at the market make me want to puke. I wouldn’t even want to use it as toilet paper for fear it would give me “red baby” diaper rash!

    Since the RS staff and management are just as subversive (or more so) than the VIACOM folks, their agenda will also be to make money off the dupes in the mainstream country listening audience while attacking and undermining everything that stands in opposition to political correctness dogma (ie Christianity, the Constitution, the rule of law, morality, traditional marriage and gender roles, etc.)

    I feel towards the RS country website the same way Rush Limbaugh felt when Obama was elected in that I hope it fails and the sooner the better.

    The second month’s cover will likely be the despicable “attorney generalissimo” Eric Holder holding up an old Marty Robbins LP of “Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs”. Eric will be decrying it as racist, bigoted, and homophobic and proof that private gun ownership in the US should be abolished!


    • Couldn’t agree more!


    • Again, how do you save country music from its fans?


  • Gotta say, Juke probably hit those article title nails right on the head. If RS country venture is anything like the main one, it’s going to be made of all sorts of massive FAIL.


  • Oh good, another site talking about how great bro-country is. Cause that’s exactly what we need right now.

    But really I couldn’t care less about this. The Rolling Stones is a once great magazine that lost the scrap of it’s credibility a long time ago.


  • The general awfulness of mainstream country music media outlets like The Boot and Country Weekly is what ultimately led me to this site. If RS is looking to those former two sites for inspiration, SCM definitely doesn’t have to worry about losing any of my traffic.


    • I used to read the Country Weekly boards regularly before they were shut down about a year ago. When I first found their site in 2002, the posters there were middle of the road, leaning towards traditional country. At the time about one third of the posters were Shania Twain fans and about two thirds were critical of her. About one third did not consider Garth Brooks or Tim McGraw to be country either.

      Over time their audience evolved, and many of the traditionalists left the site. By 2012 the majority of posters were pro-Shania and pro-Taylor. There was this girl Miranda who used to be a hard core country music gal, who eventually became a Taylor Swift fan. Country Weekly simply reflects the mainstream of country’s fan base. Unfortunately I think the mainstream fans have been evolving and many of the older fans have been checking out.


  • Here’s hoping they feature at LEAST some articles on actual country music. But, why do I get a bad feeling that their first lead story will probably have something to do with the douche-nozzles from Florida Georgia Line?


  • I was excited about this until I saw the Music Row address.

    I would have preferred that it be Austin-based.

    Now my expectations are pretty low, particularly based on its initial management and their backgrounds.


    • Though I don’t think they would ever ponder basing this thing out of Austin (which in my opinion is on a dramatic downturn in music right now), when you talk about the amount of fans vs. the amount of online media outlets, the Texas music scene is being so dramatically underserved right now, it is ridiculous. When they announced ‘Rolling Stone Country” they said they thought that country music online was being underserved. I respectfully disagree. I think it is being dramatically overserved already, and I think it is only going to get worse as so many outlets move into the country music realm. Meanwhile Texas country / Red Dirt really doesn’t have any viable online outlet. THIS is where there is a big demand, but no supply. Is there the same amount of fans as in the mainstream? Of course not. But there’s also no online outlets. This is where the biggest demand is, and where a smart website to create its foothold.

      I cover some of Texas country, but it’s so big, I can’t even wrap my head around it all. And not just small-time bands, but big, professional bands on major labels and big tours. It’s insane how little information there is out there.


      • Feel free to direct some of those Texas fans my way and hope that they don’t mind it mixed with Bluegrass.


      • I appreciate your covering Texas music.

        I know I am guilty of frequently denigrating Nashville music.

        I think that there is a wealth of Texas country, folk, indie and country rock (i.e. roots) music being generated.

        All you have to do is look at Lone Star Music and Radio Free Texas to find it.

        I will take mediocre Texas music over pretty much anything coming out of Nashville these days.

        I am in Nashville quite a bit and I don’t like what I see in the music industry there generally.

        In the chase for the dollar in Nashville country music, the art behind it is frequently lost in the process.

        The country music scene there has become Disney-fied to me.

        It’s all personal preference, but mine are almost all in Texas.


        • “I will take mediocre Texas music over pretty much anything coming out of Nashville these days.”

          Well, at least you are honest about having a preference/bias. I also agree that the Texas country / Red dirt music scenes are being totally under-represented in the media, and I’m strongly in favor seeing that change. I will add that the same can be said for Nashville’s thriving independent country / roots scene, and pretty much every music scene the city, in comparison with bro-country. Even the best mainstream country artists, like Kacey Musgraves or Brandy Clark or Kellie Pickler (in a musical context) who by all rights should be leading the way, and would have been less than a decade ago, are vastly underrepresented when compared to a small handful of consolidated media-approved performers. But the latter group is exactly who these carpetbagging publications are going to cover, I bet. They all want a piece of the pie.

          And try as I might to tell people about the cool, diverse music culture and positive vibes going on in Nashville right now, the name of the city will be further associated with the bro-country monolith as more and more corporate media entities attach themselves to the “country” gravy train, spreading some cheesy corporate “NASH” brand name all over the g*d damn place. I could be wrong about Rolling Stone, though. I was wrong about that “CMT Edge” music site, which turned out ok.


          • My preferences and bias are based on experience, but I like authentic country music, irrespective of its origin.

            I try to shop at Grimey’s, an independent record store near downtown Nashville, at least once a month and I try to get a feel for the local indie music scene and pick up some local artists’ CDs from time to time when I am there.

            Nashville has a strong indie music scene, to its credit, probably much better than in most cities.

            It’s just that when I am in Nashville I feel so overwhelmed by Big Music’s trying to monetize everything country that it gives me a bad feel for the place.

            Make no mistake, Nashville has had some of the best over the years, it’s just that the ones I like the most are people like Tompall Glazer than the current crowd, most of whom I don’t care for at all.

            Most of the deceased artists I like wouldn’t even be popular in today’s Nashville music scene.

            I don’t even know who Bobby Bones is.


          • Yeah, Grimey’s is cool. Nashville is really fortunate to have multiple independent record stores, especially because a lot of places don’t have any these days. Regarding the city generally, I dug up an old article by Trigger about “Nashville’s New Independent Nucleus.”


            I just think it’s a shame that the bubble of popularity that bro-country is currently experiencing is going to draw attention to the city for all the wrong reasons, at the exact same time that this thriving independent scene is crying out for attention. But personally, I would be happy for Rolling Stone Country to write about independent artists from Austin, Nashville, Bakersfield, or Timbuktu, but I doubt that it will happen. I’ll try to reserve judgement until the website is up, I guess.


  • Here’s a story for them…… How a little band from Texas that’s been intact for almost 15 yrs and put out 6 studio albums and puts out their third live album today and it’s currently #1 on iTunes country albums chart and has never had a hit on mainstream country radio. Although I’m sure the ” bro’s ” will be back on top tomorrow or the next day as usual, but I gotta admit it looks good to see RRB at the top even if it is for a little while.


  • I’m going to give it a fair shot. Rolling Stone helped me learn about quite a few less than mainstream artists in the late 80s and into the mid 90s. They seemed to fall off after that for quite awhile and I read it for the articles and not the music. While they are leftist they overall tend to have a good stable of writers who can write a good story even if you don’t agree with their views. I think Hunter Thompson and PJ Rouke or O’Rouke. Whatever his name was. Back to the music though. Rolling Stone has helped some bands break out maybe they can do the same for some of great country acts. RRB on the digital cover or Stoney LaRue. Hell maybe even Sturgill will be on the cover of the digital Country Rolling Stone!


  • With the special country edition scheduled to be released around the same time as the website’s June 1 launch, I’ll be surprised if Miranda Lambert isn’t the cover girl. Her new album’s out June 3rd and her team has a good relationship with Rolling Stone. Her marketing’s generally tried to match mainstream PR with some coverage among alternative and rockist media including Rolling Stone and Spin, and so far, her album’s rollout looks no different (she has the current cover of People Country and has already had feature coverage in both RS and Spin).


  • Thanks for the article on Nashville indie stores.

    I will make it a point to get by them.

    I do a fair amount of shopping at both Ernest Tubb Stores, and I also stop by the Edward McKay’s Book and CD Store at mile marker 199.

    I spend a good bit of time in Memphis and it also has a good progressive/indie music scene.

    Knoxville – not so much, but I love it anyway. We have a lot of picking and grinning here.


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