Jann Wenner has landed between a rock and a hard place as he struggles to sell Rolling Stone.
The 71-year-old publishing magnate will pay dearly for clinging to the rock-and-roll magazine he founded 50 years ago, sources told The Post, as prospective buyers have evaporated along with music fans’ habit of buying glossy-print titles at newsstands.
“Jann knows he made his mark on American culture already and he is a realist,” said author Joe Hagan, whose biography on Wenner, entitled Sticky Fingers, is set to hit next month from Random House.
“The landscape has changed and he was not able to navigate through it.”
Time Inc. and Conde Nast are in cutback mode and not interested, with the latter apparently content to operate its Pitchfork music website, insiders say. Hearst, which had held talks to buy Rolling Stone a decade earlier, is also out of the running, according to sources.
American Media, which cut a $100 million deal with Wenner earlier this year to buy Us Weekly, and more recently added Men’s Journal at an undisclosed price, looks unlikely to go to Wenner’s well a third time to buy Rolling Stone, several sources say.
With Old Media shrinking fast, tech titans also have been rumored as possible buyers.
“It would be a very sticky app for someone such as Verizon, Apple or Amazon,” one music and publishing veteran observed. “And for them, the money to buy it would be pocket change.”
Still, Silicon Valley has shown scant interest in venturing into print.
Vox, Buzzfeed and Vice have all been mentioned as possible suitors. But as one music veteran pointed out, “Rolling Stone has a brand identity for baby boomers and Gen X — but it has almost no resonance with millennials.”
Further complicating any deal is the fact that Singapore-based BandLab Technologies paid about $40 million for a 49-percent stake in September 2016 — but apparently passed on buying the remaining 51 percent still owned by Wenner and family members.
One source opined that Wenner’s biggest mistake was missing the digital revolution.
“They outsourced their web business to Real Networks for ten years” before regaining control in 2008, the source said. “When they finally got it back it was too late.”
But Wenner may be kicking himself for not dissolving his empire altogether back in 2007.
At the time, Wenner was said to have a deal on the table to sell Us Weekly to Hearst for between $700 million to $750 million.
“It was about Us…