Rolling Stone plans to launch a country music site in 2014. Rolling Stone Country is billed as the country version of the mag, and, like its brother publication, will probably feature regular articles about Bob Dylan and Taylor Swift. According to Rolling Stone editor Gus Wenner, “There’s a real big void in the digital coverage of country music”—though it’s worth noting that there are already quite a few publications covering the country scene, including Country Weekly and AOL’s The Boot.
But what Wenner might be after, rather than a chance to document the country scene, is the boot-load of money earmarked for “country” advertising. About a quarter of all U.S. adults identify as country music fans, and last year alone, the country music industry grossed about $1 billion. And while alternative and R&B album sales have declined, country album sales have gone up 4.2 percent. Meanwhile, country performers like Lady Antebellum and Blake Shelton have become national spokespersons for products like Lipton Tea and Walmart. As Rolling Stone’s publisher notes, country is a “very sponsor-friendly genre,” because the performers are “all super likable” and “they tend to be good people who value their friends.”
There are no current plans to publish Rolling Stone Country in print. Although the original Rolling Stone’s subscription numbers were up just a bit this past year, overall the magazine’s ad pages are down almost 10 percent.
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