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Penske Media gains full control of Rolling Stone

Jay Penske, chairman and chief executive of Penske Media Corporation (PMC), has purchased the remaining 49% of Rolling Stone, following a majority takeover in 2017.

The media and publishing entrepreneur now has complete ownership of the music brand, bringing to an end founder Jann Wenner’s 50 year ownership.

PMC bought up 51% of the magazine in December 2017, purchasing the rest from minority owner BandLab Technologies on 22 January. BandLab bought up the $40 million share in September 2016, overseeing an international subsidiary of the company focused on live events, merchandise and hospitality.

Panske’s media corporation owns other entertainment industry publications, including Variety, Deadline and Hollywood Life.

“The need to consolidate the Rolling Stone business has become abundantly clear”

Since 2017, PMC has taken the magazine monthly, redesigned the print edition and website and expanded the events component. The media corporation now has full control the famous brand, including its live event, licensing rights and international editions.

Penske informed staff of the news on Thursday, saying: “In the twelve months since PMC’s initial investment, the need to consolidate the Rolling Stone business has become abundantly clear and something that BandLab and their leadership team also recognised and were in full support of.”

PMC purchased the 49% Rolling Stone stake from Singaporean start-up BandLab Technologies,

Rolling Stone founder Wenner opened the doors to external investors in 2016 after many years of resistance, following a drop in advertisement revenues.

 


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FKP announces new Rolling Stone Park festival

Promoter FKP Scorpio and Germany’s Rolling Stone magazine have announced the launch of Rolling Stone Park, an indoor festival to debut in southern Germany next autumn.

The new festival – a sister event to the Baltic-coast Rolling Stone Weekender event, also jointly produced by FKP and Rolling Stone – will take place in Germany’s biggest theme park, Europa-Park in Rust, Baden-Württemberg, on 16 and 17 November 2018.

More than 30 rock/guitar artists will perform over weekend on four stages in Confertainment, the park’s convention centre. Like Rolling Stone Weekender, Plage Noire and FKP’s other festivals at the Weissenhäuser Strand holiday park – and festivals staged at Butlins in the UK – all guests will stay on site, with tickets (starting at €189) inclusive of accommodation, breakfast and parking.

“In 2009 we organised the Rolling Stone Weekender on the Baltic Sea together for the first time together,” comments FKP Scorpio managing director Folkert Koopmans. “Back then, we had to convince the audience of the concept of a combining rock’n’roll with a short holiday. Nowadays, the festival sells out well in advance.

“With Europa-Park we have found the perfect location to bridge this gap”

“Similar events are missing in the south of Germany, and with Europa-Park we have found the perfect location to bridge this gap.”

In addition to music, Rolling Stone Park will include lectures, a record/CD fair, a concert poster exhibition and more in a complementary fringe programme.

Volker Schadt, Rolling Stone head of marketing, adds: “With Rolling Stone as Germany’s leader in music media and the Rolling Stone Weekender a multiple award-winning indoor festival, we are excited to be able to continue building on our successful cooperation.”

 


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BandLab eyes live market with Rolling Stone stake

BandLab Technologies, the Singapore-based start-up which this week acquired a 49% stake in Rolling Stone, plans to turn the storied magazine brand into a Live Nation-style entertainment powerhouse, it has emerged.

Rolling Stone, founded in November 1967 by current publisher Jann Wenner (pictured), has resisted outside investment for close to 50 years, but faced with declining advertising income – it lost over US$50 million in ad revenues between 2006 and 2013 – now appears to be seeking to diversify its product offering.

Bloomberg Gadfly’s Tim Culpan writes that BandLab “plans to take on the likes of Live Nation by leveraging the Rolling Stone brand for a move into events, merchandising and hospitality throughout Asia.

BandLab will not have any editorial input, but instead oversee a Rolling Stone International subsidiary focused on live events, merch and hospitality

“While revenue at Pearson, Gannett and News Corp. has declined over the past few years, that of Live Nation has risen steadily, driven by growing concert revenue that’s helped lure more sponsorship dollars. Concerts and events are hard to pirate, and while readers can easily replace one title with another, a Katy Perry concert is no substitute for a Taylor Swift concert.”

BandLab, whose core business is a cloud-based platform for music creation and sharing, is the creation of Kuok Meng Ru, the 28-year-old son of billionaire Singaporean tycoon Kuok Khoon Hong. The company has not acquired a stake in the magazine’s publisher, Wenner Media, and will not, says Rolling Stone, have any editorial input, but oversee a Rolling Stone International subsidiary focused on live events, merch and hospitality.

“I look forward to working closely with Gus [Wenner’s son and Rolling Stone’s digital director] to take the brand bravely into the future and to realise its global potential,” says Kuok.

 


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