Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Start-up Journal: Defining Success?

WE WILL NOT even come close to breaking even financially on the first issue of JUMP. If I am lucky, we'll sell maybe $1,000 worth of advertising. And our costs will be in the ballpark of $5,500 for the one issue, not including time, concert tickets and basic travel stuff like driving around the city to drop off issues.

We may earn more money through advertising for the second issue. For the third issue, we have a tentative arrangement with City Paper to sell ads because the issue will revolve around the Philly Film and Music Festival, of which CP is a sponsor.

Regardless, I personally am going to be eating a lot of money this year. Some people might automatically consider that a failure. But forget the money for now. I am committed to four issues this year. We'll re-evaluate afterward.

What criteria should we use to decide whether to continue after the first four issues?

First and foremost, I believe, the product has to be good. If the writers, photographers and other volunteers don't have their hearts in the project, it is a failure. If we create a product that is not special, why continue?

Second, there must be interest in the mag. On March 11, 2011, we'll begin dropping the mag at locations throughout the city. We'll deliver half of the 10,000 copies during that first week. One month later, we'll return to those spots. If the mags are gone, we'll leave more. If the original mags are still there, we probably distributed poorly.

If a lot of mags remain at a lot of distribution points, we've created something people have no interest in.

Finally, I want to hear from people directly. I want people to email us and say they love the mag. I want them submitting ideas, photos, art, whatever. I want people commenting online. And I want them clamoring to get involved.

I've already had random people submit a ton of photos. I've had emails from high school students, bands, labels and journalists inquiring about the project and offering to help.

There is interest in the magazine, and that has me unbelievably optimistic. It's been a long time since Philadelphia had a high-quality, local-music-only magazine, and the city has never had it's own glossy publication devoted to pumping up the local music scene.

So, let me tell you why I believe we will succeed:

1. Few places I've ever been have as much civic pride as this city does. If you are not from here and you say something bad about Philly, you will get a beat down (if you are from Philly, saying bad things is your birthright). Philly will support Philly, and the mag is a total community-builder and civic-booster.

2. We will run large, engaging images - on shiny paper - that you can rip out of the mag and tape to your wall. Our stories will be deep, and the variety of stories will be unmatched by any publication in the city.

3. The music scene in Philly is insane. There is so much amazing stuff happening. I went to the recent Diplo Mad Decent party and there had to be 150 people in line to get in, and another 200+ people inside. It was wall-to-wall packed. And it was a Monday. In January.

In November, I went to a Philadelphia Orchestra concert with Yannick Nezet-Seguin, the future musical director and conductor, leading the symphony. Afterward, Nezet-Seguin sat down with fans. There had to be more than 100 people waiting in line to shake his hand and snap pictures with him. It was especially amazing when you consider the Orchestra crowd usually splits for the Main Line before the conductor has taken his final bows.

People here love their music. There is interest in learning more about the musicians, the scene, the city, everything, I think.

4. Finally, we will succeed because we are modest with our goals. We aren't trying to get rich. The idea is to get to a financial comfort level - where everyone gets paid for their work.

Other than that, we want to help the musicians get notoriety. We want to encourage people to come to the city to listen to music. We want our talent to stay in Philly and get lots of love. And we want people supporting Philly businesses that support the Philly music scene.

As always, your thoughts are welcomed and appreciated.

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