Friday, January 7, 2011

Start-up Journal: Creating the Business and Launching a Magazine.

FOR THE PAST SIX nights, I have experienced the awesome and eclectic sounds of Philly. Last night, I sat in David Gaines Dining Room Recording Studio (above) as he and a group of friends sang, played music and discussed the music scene in town. It was pretty amazing.

This is part of my 31 days of Philly music, the story that I am doing for the new JUMP magazine, the all-local Philly music mag I am launching with the HUGE help of volunteer writers, photographers, editors, artists and other supporters.

As we go through the launch process, I'll detail how we did it so that others can learn from our trials and errors.

I decided to create the magazine in November after talking with a few students about a London mag project I did with students last summer. They loved the London mag but didn't feel connected to it. "If there was something like this for Philly, that'd be awesome," one student remarked.

The same day, Jesse Pearson, the former editor of Vice magazine, told one of my classes that a magazine should represent the editor's way of thinking. "The mag needs to be about my curiosity," he said.

That night I started a facebook group. I invited a bunch of friends and students to talk about the idea and what a mag would look like. By the end of the month, we had our first meeting. One week later, we discussed story ideas.

Over Thanksgiving break, I created a media kit. In December, I started a website, filed for a federal employee identification number, registered as a business and opened a bank account. Mookieland Inc. now exists and will launch JUMP: The Philly Music Project magazine in March.

Total costs to date: $1,425 paid to an accountant ($600 to incorporate the business, $300 for Philadelphia business license and $525 for the accountant's fees) and $25 for a domain name and hosting.

We have nearly 30 assignments in progress right now with stories due on January 28.

In February, I'll edit (with the help of volunteer copy editors) and we'll begin laying out the magazine. It should go to print on March 4, and be on the streets by March 11. Most of the city's college students return from spring break that weekend, so we'll do our major magazine launch party the following week (sometime between March 16 and 19).

It will cost around $5,500 to print 10,000 copies of a 48-page, full-color, glossy magazine. We have no advertising plan right now, so that money is coming out of my shallow pockets.

After the mag launches, we'll do a massive outreach to potential advertisers. Our next issue will be out in June and hopefully, the content/ ad ratio will be closer to 70/30, content to ads.

That is the plan for now.

My concerns? They are plenty: the stories won't come in on time; they won't be good; the images won't be strong and engaging; we'll miss genres; the mag will be too eclectic; we will be perceived as naive; advertisers won't be interested; I will lose $7,000 that I will never get back.

I could go on for days.

For now, however, I am having a great time. The process is exciting. And my 31 days of music story has me exploring every day, meeting amazing people and seeing places I've never experienced. Speaking with all these folks reminds me of why I love journalism.

Any thoughts or suggestions are welcome.


  1. There is an underground current that runs through Philadelphia that is un-heard of and, most people are un-aware of. Cheers to you GW for bringing, what I know, will be a fan-tastic "Philly sound machine" back to the surface for all to enjoy!
    Best of Luck-

  2. Even if it is a one hit wonder, you will never regret the 7k price tag. I promise.
    (Easier said for me because it isn't my wallet, but I have a sneaking suspicion, I am right.)