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

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

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 mul­ti­headed beast with a TV sta­tion, record la­bel, pub­lish­ing im­print, a Lon­don boozer (The Old Blue Last in Shored­itch) and 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, the peo­ple at 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

irish­times.com/cul­ture

in­clude ad­ver­tis­ing group WPP, MTV founder Tom Fre­ston and pri­vate equity group the Raine Group. As we like to say in Tip­per­ary, Vice is play­ing se­nior hurl­ing now.

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

It will be in­ter­est­ing to see how Vice 2.0 bal­ances honouring com­mit­ments to its fun­ders (who will want to see a re­turn on their money) and main­tain­ing the mag­a­zine’s un­der­ground ap­peal. Fans and fol­low­ers will be quick 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 on to some ve­hi­cle that 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 the big­gest les­son for all Vice wannabes.

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