Rolling Stone’s New Song: Money

Published on April 19, 2010
by Peter Kafka

Better late than never!

Rolling Stone magazine, which has more or less slept through the Web era, is finally waking up. A deal with RealNetworks (RNWK), which made the magazine money but left it far behind the competition, has expired, and a revamped site launches today. So does a new strategy: Pay to play.

You can still get access to some of the site’s stuff for free, but much of the magazine will be moved beyond a pay wall. Subscriptions will range from $3.95 for a one-month look to $44.95 for a two-year commitment.

In exchange, you get goodies like a print subscription and access to all the magazine’s back issues dating to 1967. Which is more or less what I wanted to see the company offer. So that’s nice.

I do wish that Rolling Stone rewarded its existing print subscribers as well by offering them discounted or free access to the site. But I’ll let Jann Wenner and company explain why they’re not going that route.

One thing that’s not popping up in the discussion of Rolling Stone’s digital do-over: Any mention of an iPad edition. Perhaps there’s one coming down the road, but I think the Apple (AAPL) omission is intentional. I imagine that Wenner, who is fundamentally a magazine guy, has no interest in sharing with Steve Jobs any digital dollars he does earn.

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