Music | September 27, 2017 11:18 am

How Rolling Stone Is Selling Itself to Potential Investors

Vanity Fair looks at how a magazine once worth $500 million might only sell for $25 million.

Rolling Stone Magazine Turns 50 and Is Debt-Free
Percussionist Ollie Brown relaxes on the plane with a copy of Rolling Stone magazine during the Rolling Stones Tour of the Americas, 1975. (Christopher Simon Sykes/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

On the heels of the news that Jann Wenner and son, Gus, will be selling iconic music magazine Rolling Stone, Gabriel Sherman of Vanity Fair has taken the elephant in the room—the brand’s decades-long downfall—and paraded it around for the whole world to see.

It’s a telling tale, mainly because it’s a microcosm of how far the print industry has fallen in the wake of the digital age.

RealClearLife has teased out some of the more surprising facts from Sherman’s feature.

-According to documents VF obtained, Rolling Stone‘s projected advertising revenue for 2020 will be just $10.9 million, down from $28.6 million in 2015.

-Part of the Wenners’ sales pitch to possible buyers in cutting the print budget by 30 percent and going from a biweekly format to a monthly one. It will save the magazine over $15 million.

-The brand’s future is almost entirely online, argues Gus Wenner. “We have an enormous amount of belief in our ability to create premium video content, TV shows, and documentaries to service a massive market,” he told Sherman. (Their current video revenue is reportedly just $100K, but is projected to hit $1 million by 2020.)

-The Wenners will likely only get about $25 million for their 51 percent stake in the magazine. Putting that into perspective, Jann was once offered $500 million for it.