Saturday, November 5, 2011

Start-up Journal: JUMP Year in Review.

I'm the guy in the front row at concerts, usually with a big, stupid grin and bouncing up and down. I love to see talented people performing. I think it's part jealousy - I wish I was up on stage, and part admiration.

One of the greatest things about running this magazine is that it is an excuse to go out, have fun and listen to live music. Not that I needed an excuse but my life is pretty jammed and it can be exhausting. Given the option, I will fall asleep on the couch. But now that I have to attend concerts, I throw down some espresso and hit the town. It's pretty awesome.

Speaking of awesome, I have to say that our latest issue (issue #4), which officially hits the streets on 11/11/11 (though I pick them up from the printer on Monday), is probably the most awesome pop culture, truly Philadelphia magazine in many years. It looks good, it reads well and it covers so much diverse information that it is almost overwhelming.

In this issue, we have Jill Scott, but the story doesn't hinge on her music. Rather, we talk about her dedication to Philly via her foundation. She provides scholarships and training to young people from her neighborhood who otherwise might not have the means nor ambition to do positive things in their lives. She gives them hope.

We have stories about the Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus, an opera-singing pizza maker, artists who make music posters, hard rock bands, dubstep DJs, hoop dancing, politics, education and so much more.

After printing four issues, I've discovered a few things:

• This is a doable project. Even with my regular, full-time job (I'm teaching around 350 students this semester), I can do this magazine on the side. It eats my life but it is doable. For the month of October, while I was editing and doing layout, I worked on the magazine non-stop from Thursday evening until Sunday evening. I did not sleep. I did not party. I quit playing baseball (that sucked). I ignored my friends. But we got the mag done.
• If I had more time, I could sell more ads and make the mag financially sustainable very easily. There is interest in the product and loyalty from the readership. Our ads are cheap enough that businesses can afford to advertise.
• For this issue, we nearly covered our costs - though that includes a credit from the printer because they goofed up the printing in the previous issue. With winter break coming up soon, I will dedicate four weeks to getting advertisers. I'm feeling pretty good about it.
• Selling ads blows. I take every rejection personally, and there is a lot of rejection. I can't even tell you how many people have blown me off over the last ten months. There are so many more people on my permanent shit list than ever imaginable.

• There is a pattern to production. Story deadline passes and I have few story submissions. Then I freak out and think about shutting down the mag. A few weeks later, I have more than enough content to fill the mag, and I feel like king of the world. This has happened with every issue.
• This is my fault. I am an easy going guy so I don't yell at people when they miss deadlines. I coddle people too much. Now that we have a good core staff and a ton of people interested in contributing, the bullshit is over. You miss deadline and you will never, ever contribute to the mag. There is no reason I should have to stress about that.

• I love the magazine and everything in it. It is far more than just music. We use music as an excuse to talk about Philadelphia. When you read the mag, you experience the city, and you see way more than you would ever find in other regional publications. That's not a slam on them. It's a product of our lack of advertising, abundance of content and my determination to be diverse.

The mag will continue to exist and that's pretty amazing. People like the product - it's print and real, as opposed to the ephemeral nature of the Internet. Our costs are minimal, so the money situation is not out of reach.

Plus, I like attending shows. Being an adult can suck - the realities of work and bills and bullshit obligations can be a real downer. It would be very easy to sit around watching Netflix all day. Instead, I go out all the time (except during production months) and have fun, experiencing so much.

Here are some of my favorite things I've gotten to do because of the magazine:

• Interviewed Mayor Nutter.
• Hung out with Freeway.
• Saw a ton of bands at the Philly FM Fest.
• Spent 12 hours at The Roots Picnic.

I've spent so much time with bands and artists away from the stage, learning about them and their inspirations. I've had the pleasure of learning about talented people who are passionate enough to push onward despite the chances of making a bigtime career out of music being slim.

Running the magazine has been a real treat and I look forward to next year.