Magazine week: How good is the brave Rolling Stone launch edition?

• Today we start with a brave indie and a new licence it is bringing back to market.

Magazines are the oft-neglected media as COVID-19 impacts the media sector. If it was not for the turmoil surrounding Bauer Media in recent months, magazines wouldn’t score a mention at all.

This week we look at publishers big and small having a go with innovation and launches – from Bauer Media’s marie claire to the country’s other multi-title publishing houses.

Today we start with a brave indie and a new licence it is bringing back to market.

Magazine Rack

Rolling Stone Australia
Source: The Brag Media
Price: $14.99
Book size: 100 pages
Ad count: 14 pages

When Mediaweek was speaking recently to The Brag Media CEO and publisher Luke Girgis it was clear this was a passion project for the company. He detailed about how he secured the licence for Rolling Stone from Penske Media. He explained how he and managing editor Poppy Reid decided to publish a magazine after initially only working up a business model for a digital iteration of the brand.

See also: The Brag Media braves COVID-19 to launch Rolling Stone magazine

Girgis also spoke about music enthusiast Tyler Jenke who lives and breathes his passion for music and why he was the best choice as editor.

After reading the first edition of the new Rolling Stone Australia the news is good and it deserves your support as either a reader or an advertiser.

One piece of not-so-good news is that the print product will only be quarterly. Girgis talked about the investment in the paper stock which has made it feel like it is a quarterly worth $15.

The design is clean and crisp and seems to follow the US style book. The cover featuring Tones and I looks super smart, but the dark cover doesn’t really scream at you from the newsstand.

Some advertisers deferred their spend for the first edition, but The Brag Media said it will not lose money on the launch issue after support from subscribers. And the good news for newsagents is the ongoing subscription price is slightly higher than what readers will pay at the newsstand.

There seems to be a nice mix of content from the US edition with local news and feature interviews.

The magazine needs to carefully balance its reviews and culture recommendations given that they can only do it in print four times a year. People wishing to get more up-to-date guidance can no doubt do so on the sprawling Rolling Stone Australia website.

Poppy Reid’s cover feature is worth the investment in the issue and its classic Rolling Sone with the writer embedding herself in the world of Toni Watson, sharing insights and observations that can’t be gleaned from a phone interview.

There’s some good background on the business of music with a look at the Elvis Presley money machine, a piece on how heritage acts are helping fund the music economy (with great live photograph from one of Sydney’s best Ash Mar) and a five page examination of how the Hillsong Church became one of Australia’s biggest music exports.

But is there possibly too much music business? There’s also another piece – “Australia’s music industry in crisis”.

The album reviews run across five pages with 26 scores ranging from 2.5 stars (5SOS and VOIID) to 4.5 stars (Cub Sport one of three to score that high.)

There’s even a pull-out poster for Tones and I fans to put on the wall. It’s big and glossy, let’s hope it has the same impact on sales as the posters that helped launch Smash Hits Australia with back in 1984.

(James Manning edited Smash Hits Australia when Fairfax-owned Magazine Promotions launched the title in Australia 36 years ago.)

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