RYAN URBAN WRITES – On October 1, a Singapore tech startup bought half of Rolling Stone, becoming the first-ever outside investor in the 49-year-old magazine.
BandLab Technologies is a social music company aimed at encouraging rising music artists to collaborate with one another by combining features from Facebook, SoundCloud and Garage-Band all into one place. The startup is led by 28-year old Meng Ru Kuok, son of billionaire Kuok Khoon Hongn and the nephew of Malaysian billionaire Robert Kuok.
Founded in 1967, Rolling Stone became a beacon of American pop culture, helping launch the careers of writers and creative artists for almost 50 years. But like many of its print-media peers, the magazine has steadily lost advertising and readership to nimbler online alternatives.
The Singaporean partnership represents a big step for the Stone as part of a new strategy to regain young readers and writers.
While BandLab won’t be making any sort of writing or editorial-type changes to the magazine, its new role is expected to expand Rolling Stone into new areas of the market like live events, hospitality, and merchandising businesses in Asia – areas where BandLab has great experience.
And now a great opportunity; For the hospitality business in Asia is wildly successful, with hotel chains like The Hard Rock carving out billions of dollars annually with over 134 restaurants and 22 hotels everywhere from Pattaya, Thailand to Ibiza, Spain and Macau. The Hard Rock hotels in India and Florida, alone, generate a combined revenue of over $5 billion. For a corporation like the Rolling Stones to crack into the hospitality and merchandising market is huge. With such deep roots in American pop culture and a modern twist from Bandlab specifically targeting a younger audience, the Stone’s popularity is going to shoot through the roof.
Furthermore, the Rolling Stone’s partnership reaffirms that Singapore is making an ever greater name for itself in the global media market. The eclectic, multicultural landscape of Singapore sets the city-state up as the best incubator for the ideas, creativity and a globally focused mindset that brands and entertainment professionals covet. Not to mention, most Singaporeans are fluent in two or three of the city-state’s four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. Singapore is a true melting pot of people and ideas. With a great location and a few tax incentives for international corporations, Singapore offers Western businesses looking to make it big in the East, like the Stone, an offer they cannot refuse.