gig magazine is moving to Medium
When I was laying out the first issue of gig magazine in January 2014, I envisioned it to be a print magazine first through MagCloud, then through Blurb with the website as a secondary source for people to view the issues. I pushed forward with this idea through the year, refining both the print and website layout as I went.
In January of this year I decided that with a year behind me it was a good time to pull back and take a hard look at what gig magazine. The first thing that came to me was the experience of that first year, which I wrote about in an article for Pyragraph. It was good to get my thoughts out on the local music scene since gig is NOT an opinion mag. The next thing I did was attend a portfolio review for both photographers and designers. I had a few recent issues of gig to get some feedback from professionals in both industries. I also took time to think about where I wanted to take gig magazine. Knowing what I know now, with a ton of feedback, and seeing what was possible was really refreshing and liberating.
So what did I learn?
What I was doing wrong:
My sales of the printed issues was basically non existent. Sure some of the bands bought some copies to sell as merchandise or to keep for their coffee tables but really I wasn't selling them to my audience. I love printed magazines and seeing my photos and words in them made me blind to the reality.
I was pushing a print magazine to an audience that didn't care about print as much as I did.
Another thing I was doing wrong was poor editing. By that I mean that I wasn't editing my photographs tight enough. When I switched from MagCloud to Blurb I had extra pages to fill so I was going with not only more photos, but bigger ones. Looking back though my issues, I can see where I could have edited tighter.
My biggest problem was that I was taking too much time from the show to release. The main goal of gig magazine from the start was to be current and relevant. But the actual time it took me to edit photographs, write a story, layout the issue, then wait for a proof copy took at least 3 weeks (and sometimes 5 or 6).
What I was doing right:
Each issue was covering, for the most part, a different genre. This meant that with each issue I had to appeal to a different audience. The way that I would accomplish this was to first get the bands on board to spreading the issue to their fans. It was very much a DIY mindset and it payed off because I found the issues were really artist spotlights that (hopefully) benefited them as well as spread the word about the magazine.
I also started a Mail Chimp email subscription from the beginning. Most of the people on that list are in the industry one way or another and the different genres actually appealed to them. This list, though not very long, was very active on the click rates according to Mail Chimp.
When I setup my website I also installed Google Analytics which was one of the smartest things I did. With each release I would see a hundred or more hits within the first week. It would wane a bit before I would release the next issue (as seen in the graph below). This told me that people were looking and spreading the word even if they weren't buying prints.
One thing that also helped gain a lot of attention was gifting the printed versions to people that I wanted feedback from. The most notable has to be Daniel Milnor. He is Blurb’s photographer at large. He took a liking to gig magazine, featuring it on his website in July 2014 as well as doing an interview with me for Blurb.
The contacts that I made will be a great foundation to build on in the future.
What about print? What is Medium? Why Medium?
I obviously want to continue what I was doing right; making photographs that conveyed the local music scene and pair it with interviews with the musicians. I also want to continue to cover the local music scene here in New Mexico. Not only local bands, but also bands that stop here on tour.
I am still a big fan of the printed magazine and love the freedom of print on demand from Blurb so I am planning to do a bi-annual print issue. This print issue will be a collection of select photographs and interviews from the previous 6 month of online issues. It will be a better feature for the local music scene and hopefully with the support of a few local sponsors it will be distributed locally as well.
What is Medium? Well this is Medium, you are reading on it right now. Medium is a platform for writers and publishers to share their stories. It also allows publications like gig magazine to have multiple editors and writers, which is great for the expansion of gig.
The format for issues on Medium will be similar to what they were on the website. The benefit with switching to Medium is the amount of time between the show and publishing should be greatly decreased. I hope to get the issues out within 1-2 weeks of the show. Medium also has apps for phones and tablets, which will make easier for people to read the issues.