Owner explores options for ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine

The owner of Rolling Stone magazine said it’s exploring strategic options for its majority stake, signaling co-founder Jann Wenner is preparing to relinquish control of the half-century-old iconic music publication.

Owner explores options for ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine

Wenner Media hired Methuselah Advisors, the company said, but didn’t say whether Mr Wenner is in talks with any potential suitors.

Founded in 1967, Rolling Stone became a fixture of American pop culture, helping launch the careers of writers and creative artists over 50 years. But like many of its peers, the magazine has steadily lost advertising and readership to nimbler online alternatives over the years.

The announcement comes almost a year after Mr Wenner sold a 49% stake in the magazine to Singapore-based BandLab Technologies, a budding digital music company co-founded by Kuok Meng Ru, the scion of one of Asia’s richest families. BandLab declined to comment on Mr Wenner’s latest statement. When the minority stake in Rolling Stone was sold to BandLab in September 2016, it was the first time Mr Wenner had admitted an outside investor, encapsulating the plight of an industry fighting to stay relevant in an online age.

Social Network Kuok, the third son of Singapore-based agribusiness tycoon Kuok Khoon Hong, graduated from Cambridge University with a mathematics degree and launched BandLab in 2016 as a social network for musicians and fans.

The startup is funded by private investors, including Mr Kuok’s father and JamHub, a maker of audio mixers. BandLab, his flagship business, is a cloud-based online community that allows artists to create, collaborate and share their music.

In 2012, Kuok acquired Swee Lee, a sleepy 71-year-old distributor of guitars in Singapore and turned the company into a modern enterprise, selling merchandise online and offering music lessons. It’s now the biggest distributor of instruments and audio equipment in Southeast Asia.

Other acquisitions include Composr, a European iOS and web music-making service, and Mono Creators, the San Francisco-based design studio that creates high-end instrument cases, straps and accessories for musicians. BandLab most recently acquired Chew.tv, a London-based DJ streaming platform, underscoring the efforts of Mr Kuok, 29, to build a global music empire.

Rolling Stone made its mark in the 1970s and 80s with cutting-edge music and political coverage.

Gonzo journalist Hunter S Thompson wrote for Wenner for decades, including publishing first in its pages “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

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