Rolling Stone is readying the launch of their brand new, dedicated country music website on June 1st, with a corresponding one-time print edition of Rolling Stone Country on newsstands June 5th featuring country music coverage from page 1 to 70. This bold move by one of music journalism’s most recognized brands could be a big game changer for the way country music is covered, and Rolling Stone opening an office on Nashville’s famous Music Row is a pronouncement by the company that they mean business.
“Rolling Stone has made a huge commitment to country,” says Rolling Stone Country Senior Editor Beville Dunkerley. “I mean not only did we hold out for a building on Music Row for several months until one finally came open, but my bosses in New York have said, ‘We’re not going to wait and see if this does well to see if it continues. This is going to continue.’ And my boss has said that in print and made the promise. What I find the most exciting when I was hired for this is that Rolling Stone Country is the first format breakout for this iconic magazine. There’s no Rolling Stone Hip-Hop, there’s no Rolling Stone Pop. Rolling Stone Country is the very first genre breakout for the website. So I hope that will show people our dedication to the genre.”
The launching of Rolling Stone Country has many people wondering how exactly the new venture will take shape. Will it be just another outlet covering the same lifestyle stories that permeate the online country realm already? Like Rolling Stone proper, will it cover politics?
“As far as government politics, hell no! We’ll leave that to the magazine and RollingStone.com,” Dunkerley says. “But as far as the politics of country music, absolutely. We will dive right into that. We are planning think pieces about the bro-country movement, and why it’s so hard for a record label to break a female act over a male act. There’s so many hot button topics we hear up and down The Row that we’ll absolutely tackle. And with an opinionated voice too, presenting both sides, but giving our opinion on it as well.”
“We just hope to be different,” Beville continues. “Right now I believe there’s a big void in the country music journalism for a critical voice for the genre. There’s so many websites that are dedicated to more of the lifestyle news. They want to know about Trisha Yearwood’s apple pie recipe, and they want to know who’s the latest couple getting divorced, and that’s just not something that Rolling Stone pays attention to. We pay more attention to the music. It is the #1 place people go when they want to read an album review or a song review. So we’re going to continue to be the critical voice in that respect. But we’re also going to show the artists in different musical lights. For instance when we sit down and talk to someone like Lee Brice, instead of asking him about his new baby or his new marriage and all of that, we’re going to ask him about the production on his new album. And that’s something that maybe not the typical fan would be interested in hearing.”
Beville Dunkerley, who was already a writer for Rolling Stone, and founded the country music blog The Boot, will be joined on the Rolling Stone Country staff by Senior Editor Joseph Hudak who was previously the managing editor at Country Weekly, which is currently being re-branded as NASH Magazine. They will work with a team of thirteen freelance writers, as well as full-time staffers in Rolling Stone’s New York offices to create the website’s original content.
“I feel like the Rolling Stone readers are more of the music geeks, and they care about the production, about what kind of guitar [an artist] uses on stage. So we want to continue in the tradition of Rolling Stone, of making it all about the music.”