Singapore-based music startup buys 49% stake in Rolling Stone – TechCrunch
The company behind iconic music magazineÂ Rolling Stone has sold a 49 percent share in the business to a startup from Singapore in a bid toÂ grow its international reach.
U.S.-based Wenner Media announced the sale of its stake to Singaporeâs BandLab this weekend, although the price paid was not disclosed. BandLab is run byÂ Meng Ru Kuok, the 28-year-old son of palm oil billionaireÂ Kuok Khoon Hong, and this isnât its first piece of notable M&A. The company acquiredÂ Swee Lee,Â a distributor of guitars and other instruments, in 2012 and, last week, it picked up San Francisco-based instrument design lab Mono.Â It also offers a free app that lets artists create and share music.
BandLab said it willÂ âfocus onÂ expanding Rolling Stoneâs business in new markets, and propelling the brandâs global evolution.â
That means the creation of Rolling Stone International, which will manage the newly acquired stake in the business and, Bloomberg reported,Â developÂ live events, merchandising and hospitality to extend its brand beyond editorial. (Editorial control, by the way, will not be in BandLabâs remit, the company said.) Rolling Stone already circulates local versions of its magazine in 12 countries.
Rolling Stone claims a readership ofÂ nearly 12 million for its print publication and a âdigital audienceâ of more than 65 million online â although that figure appears to include social channels like Facebook, where it claims a cumulative 18 million fans and followers. The company didnât give figures for Rollingstone.com, instead it saidÂ that âaverage monthly unique visitors to the site [are] up nearly 40 percentâ year-on-year. Take that as you will.
This is a significantÂ deal for Wenner since it is the first time it has allowed outside money into Rolling Stone, which is approaching its 50th anniversary.
But these are modern times and they require a modern approach.Â Kuok, who was in negotiations for 18 months, told Bloomberg that he sees âplenty of synergiesâ between Rolling Stone and BandLabâs other ventures. Itâs certainly a reality in the 21st century that mediaÂ canât rely on print or online alone, but itâll be interesting to see how these threads are tied together.
âWe are focused on the consumer and the supply chain of music, and innovative business models around music that exist today.Â At the end of the day, the end consumer is the same. BandLabâs goal is to be a global music business,â he said.
Already, BandLab has breathed new life intoÂ Swee Leeâs 70-year-old business, which has expanded to become a place to find music lessons and buy merchandising as well as instruments.