Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Vice magazine is going global – but can it keep its edge?

It’s a story to warm the cockles of every would-be media mogul’s heart. Yes, Dorothy, there is still cash to be made from magazines. Of course, Vice magazine is no longer just a magazine. What began as a free publication …

Fri, Apr 8, 2011, 09:54

   

It’s a story to warm the cockles of every would-be media mogul’s heart. Yes, Dorothy, there is still cash to be made from magazines.

Of course, Vice magazine is no longer just a magazine. What began as a free publication in Montreal in 1994 is now a multi-headed beast with a TV station, record label, publishing imprint, a London boozer (The Old Blue Last in Shoreditch) and sundry other fingers in other pies.

The magazine is still part of the mix – and it’s still free, irreverent, sarcastic and hugely entertaining – but it’s now a publication with different editions in dozens of countries worldwide.

This week, Vice announced their intention to move to the next level when they tapped some high-profile investors for large wodges of cash. New investors in Vice Media include advertising group WPP, MTV founder Tom Freston and private equity group the Raine Group. As we say in Tipperary, Vice are playing senior hurling now.

Vice will use the cash to set up shop in emerging markets like China, India and Brazil as well as to augment its existing sports and news operations.

What will be interesting to see is how Vice 2.0 balances commitments to its funders (who will want to see a return on their money) and its underground appeal. Fans and followers will be the first to cry foul if Vice loses its edge or begins to follow the easy money by jumping into bed with big brands and labels.

But those investors surely know that they’re not latching onto some vehicle which will quickly and willingly change course to make money. Vice has made it this far and attracted this much attention because it has been true to itself. And that’s really the lesson for all Vice wannabes.

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