A couple of months ago, I read this piece on Pigeons and Planes about its humble beginnings, rise, and overall the concept of the music blog. After reading it, it got me thinking about THE RADICAL and why it exists and why I do my best to try and push it further into the consciousness of as many human beings as possible.
I started THE RADICAL slightly over a year ago. I had quit my first “real” digital media job where I was essentially a business and creative partner, free to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Because of some personal decisions and an opportunity to work for a bigger (and more stable) company, I lost that freedom of creativity. My new job was more about feeding a bigger machine and while my ideas were heard and implemented, the passion I had accidentally discovered when I moved to Los Angeles didn’t fit into their brand. So, I scoured the internet and realized the sites that I was reading (like Pigeons and Planes), had to have started somewhere. I texted Rob and told him I didn’t just want to start a music blog, that could easily fall by the wayside. No, I wanted to do a zine. For some reason, it made sense to get me learning more about the industry I was so curious about. And to be frank, I just really wanted to go to as many concerts as physically possible.
So, it started happening. A photo pass. I bought a DSLR camera on sale because I didn’t have anyone else to shoot for me. I “learned” how to be a “photographer” (aka I own a camera now). An interview. I would get on the phone, or on emails, and sometimes in person to talk to small artists, ones that had a couple thousand followers. Ones that were equally as thirsty for some sort of visibility. Then it started snowballing. I can’t pinpoint when exactly we started gaining traction but admittedly, I knew what I was doing in terms of strategy. I knew what avid fanbases existed and I tapped into them — but only if I felt the same enthusiasm. Our first issue started coming together and then all of sudden there was hype around it. Due in part from some promotion from the artists that we included. Ah, so that’s how it worked.
— Kyle Simmons (@Kyle_JSimmons) December 4, 2014
Since then, we’ve published five issues and through those five issues, internally it’s been a struggle to figure out exactly how we fit into the sea of music blogs. It’s hard to make yourself stand out from the endless supply of good and bad content out there. Both get attention and it’s difficult to comprehend exactly why. It’s a mix of timing and luck and attention. The more artists, publicists, and managers I talked to, the same complaints seemed to come up. Things are planted; articles are just copied/pasted; there seems to be a lack of dedication when it comes to promoting an artist. It’s all about riding that click bait and buzz. There was a point when I realized we couldn’t keep up. We didn’t have the staff or the time and there is just too much out there. And you know what? It didn’t matter. Throughout this year, the other thing I kept hearing from the people we met was how we somehow made them feel comfortable. They trusted us. Why? Hell if I know.
— Jack Garratt (@JackGarratt) June 15, 2015
And that’s where it all clicked. THE RADICAL isn’t about pushing out articles for the sake of pushing out articles. It’s about uncovering the stories and putting together the building blocks of the people who make the music that helps us get from one day to the next. It’s also about questioning everything. Trying to understand what is good and bad about the music industry, what is working and not working, and most importantly: why. The way to get people coming back, at least for us, is to not only provide something you can’t find anywhere else but to continue the story and not stopping at just one conversation.
Delighted to be featured in the 3rd issue of The Radical Magazine! They interviewed me about my work and history and life on the road. I’m always excited and also a little weirded out by press like this, but… it’s a great magazine and I’m happy to be part! Check it out (plus they talked me into offering a promo code for my store, so… there’s an incentive there as well) @theradicalzine
In each editor’s note of each issue, I always reflect at what putting together that particular project meant in that moment in time. Now that it’s been a year, it’s interesting to look back and see how far we’ve come and how much farther we can still go. I can’t even begin to tell you how many great stories I’ve heard from the people I’ve met through THE RADICAL. Hopefully, we can find a way to let them tell you as well.