Rolling Stone To Go On-Line Via Compuserve

Rolling

Stone, the most popular rock magazine in the world,

plans to go on-line by mid-June, ATN has learned. Rolling Stone

Online, as it will be called, is being put together by longtime

Rolling Stone Senior Editor Bob Love, under the watchful eye of

the magazine's Editor and Publisher, Jann Wenner. Initially, the

magazine will be available only on Compuserve. "It will not be the

[print version of the] magazine on-line," said Love in the first

interview about the new publication to be given to any media in the

world. "It's not going to be the typical magazine after-thought of

throwing the text of a magazine on-line. What it is going to be

is almost entirely music-oriented news and consumer information."

Love, who has edited the magazine's special technology sections for

many years, said he can't be too specific at the moment, because

"we're in the throws of creating and don't know all the things we can

do, don't know the realm of possibilities yet." However, each issue of

Rolling Stone Online will include an "interactive cover story,

which will include sound, possibly QuickTime movies and other elements

that 'can enhance our readers' experience of reading that cover

story.'" Love said content will be uploaded daily. At least some of the

album reviews will be drawn from the print version. Asked if CD-ROMs

will be reviewed, Love said, "Our emphasis will be on albums. 99% of

what we do will be music-oriented. Reviews of music CD-ROMs are a

possibility." The on-line magazine will be "beta-testing some new

technology with Compuserve. We will push the limits of what the

service has been able to do up until now." One feature of the new

magazine will be a "huge library. We hope to have downloadable sound

samples, photos, multimedia kits­­things like that." Rolling

Stone publisher Jann Wenner has no plans to place back issues of

the print magazine on-line. "Jann does not intend to ever put content

[from the print magazine] in any archival form," said Love. "We won't

take several years of reviews and put them in the library. We'll

generate our own material." Love said he would be able to provide ATN

with more specific details in the coming weeks.

Thus far, in addition

to Love, Rolling Stone Online has only two staff members. Matt

Hendrickson, a young journalist who has been contributing on a

freelance basis to Rolling Stone for the past "nine or ten

months," has been hired as an on-line reporter. Lamar Graham,

previously at Wenner Media-owned Men's Journal and before that

GQ, is Rolling Stone Online's first Senior Editor. Love,

Hendrickson, and Graham have had no previous experience working on an

on-line publication. Although Love would not comment about how much

money Wenner is investing in the start-up, ATN understands that he's

being quite cautious. "How much is Jann spending?" responded Love. "I

don't even know." Love also says he doesn't yet know how they'll

handle advertising. The deal with Compuserve was finalized in late

March, although Love said himself and others at Rolling Stone

have been thinking about an on-line version for about a year. Wenner

"seems to have a knack for understanding what this medium is... It was

Jann who came up with the 'interactive cover story.' He came up with

those words," said Love. Wenner has spent quite a bit of time

examining commercial on-line services; he doesn't currently have

web access, although he has seen the web. And why is Rolling Stone

going on-line? "It seems to me that it's going to be so exciting to

extend the magazine into cyberspace," said Love. "It's such an

exciting area of development that we would have to think of reasons

not to be involved. There's no downside. It's a perfect fit for the

Rolling Stone reader to have an electronic version of the

magazine available to them. Our studies show we have high penetration

of computer users and modem owners. It's a natural fit, a natural way

of extending the magazine both business-wise and creatively."