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.