Legacy music and culture magazine Rolling Stone is taking a cue from some of the pop, rock, and cultural personalities it has covered over the years and is “going country” in the second quarter of 2014 with a dedicated country music website looking to employ a full time staff of 10 to 15 people, and put out 8 to 12 articles a day. A country-themed print issue will coincide with the new website, but according to Rolling Stone brass, the endeavor is primarily an online venture for now.
“There’s a really big void in the digital coverage of country music as far as giving it the serious attention it deserves,” rollingstone.com director Gus Wenner tells adage.com. Rolling Stone plans to spend $1 million on the site in the first year, and hopes to attract 1 million unique online viewers monthly after 12 months.
“I went through a lot of the iterations and proposals and modeling for Rolling Stone Country, but the most important thing was a trip I took down to Nashville,” Wenner continues. “That is a culture that appreciates music…We’re really doubling down on country: in the office, the people, the logo and the art that’s going into the new site. 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.”
Country music is seen as a lucrative market for advertisers, according to Rolling Stone publisher Chris McLoughlin. “There’s a huge opportunity for us to expand the Rolling Stone consumer base by extending into country music. Certain categories of advertisers love country music because it’s a very sponsor-friendly genre. The performers are all super likable, they tend to be good people who value their fans and treat their fans well.”
Rolling Stone has always covered country music from the outside looking in, but entering into the country genre head first will likely make them a heavy player in the country marketplace. Country music writer Chet Flippo who passed away earlier this year got his start as an editor for Rolling Stone, going on to write the introduction for albums like Wanted: The Outlaws, and Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger.