June 22, 2022

KC’s longtime online indie music magazine just made its print debut; why its founder kept the ad for the page black and white

FCheeky digital ads and gimmicky marketing schemes don’t tell the stories (or sing the praises) of artists who go against the Kansas City mainstream, says music magazine founder Aaron Rhodes niche that just hit the streets this spring.

Readers shouldn’t be fooled, Rhodes said. His underground approach to advertising sales for Shuttlecock Music Magazine is part of a much larger plan – aimed at embedding the publication deep within the community it covers: a rising group of brave, talented and often silent musicians.

“I pledge to stay away from Facebook [style] ads,” said Rhodes, who is also Shuttlecock’s editor and key multimedia storyteller, detailing the ways he thinks his approach to audience building and operational sustainability reflects the raw, undiscovered vibes of culture. local music in the city.

Click on here to learn more about Shuttlecock or to read the latest Rhodes features.

“I never tried very hard [or] sent a ton of emails [selling ads] – I kind of just felt there wouldn’t be as much interest in it,” he continued. “I think everyone recognizes, at some point, [web ads] are not that useful. … If I’m going to sell ads, I want to do it within the community around me.

This means working with partners such as The Vinyl Underground in 7th Heaven, a local record store that shares a similar mission to Shuttlecock and joins the publication to elevate Kansas City talent, he said, noting the more traditional alternative to his tactic: websites filled with worthless advertisements for its growing audience.

Shuttlecock’s approach has served the magazine’s online presence well over its nearly six-year run, but in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and a layoff from his full-time job at Do816 – a blog promoting local events – Rhodes knew he had an opportunity to consciously adjust his strategy.

Flywheel April 2021

Flywheel April 2021

In April, he launched a free print version of Shuttlecock – a move that forced him to shift his thinking from ad sales to the B-side.

“When I sent emails regarding the sale of ads in the [print] magazine, I ran out of space in a week and a half,” he said amusedly, reinforcing his decision to enter the print game amid a digital age that has seen many local publications shut down their presses and let their ink dry up.

“I was lying in bed like, ‘Is anyone really going to care? Are people going to pick it up, even if it’s free?'” he said about initial concerns about whether advertisers — and the magazine itself — would see a return to the experiment.

And, so far, it is.

“I was a little surprised by the reaction,” he said. “I was dropping them off at record stores and cafes… and people were really excited to see it and started talking about it. … I am happy.

The magazine can be picked up at places like The Vinyl Underground and Johnson County Community College in the Kansas City area and Love Garden Sounds to Lawrence.

Inasmuch as

Behind the camera (and the page)

Overall, the experience was just one of dozens of real-world entrepreneurship lessons for Rhodes, 24, who began publishing online out of high school — and with just a few years left. of journalistic experience to his credit.

“There’s a lot of shows I attended when I was younger and there’s no video, there’s no photos. I really only have my memories – and that’s great, but it’s cool to be able to look at images and to be able to convey them in this way,” he explained of his first reason for founding the magazine.

“There are smaller shows out there where sometimes I’m the only one with a camera and the only one writing about it. … I cover local artists that aren’t covered elsewhere, that aren’t on the air yet. the radio.

Inasmuch as

WATCH: The pandemic has been difficult for everyone, but Shuttlecock editor Aaron Rhodes is going through a particularly difficult time. With no real shows to book, he made up gigs in his head and handed out flyers to them in Westport. His friends are worried.

Expanding Shuttlecock’s offerings to include a print version of the publication – as well as two podcasts – means even more exposure for local artists.

“Through [offering] a free magazine, I can kind of extend the reach of what I do on the website and put the local artists I care about in front of an audience that wouldn’t meet them,” Rhodes added, noting his commitment to the musicians from all over the region and hopes that Shuttlecock’s rhythm will sound good in the future.

Inasmuch as

“I’ve been doing the Shuttlecock podcast – the main podcast – for a few years now. This is where I interview someone involved in the local music scene,” Rhodes said, noting that the process allows him to have informal conversations with musicians who often reveal more about their craft than a formal interview. .

Rhodes recently launched a second podcast, “In My Headache,” alongside veteran Kansas City journalist Bill Brownlee.

“We’re talking about two new albums and a comeback album,” Rhodes said of what listeners can expect from the podcast, which hits all major platforms and Shuttlecock’s website every two weeks.

“It’s been a lot of fun because I’m 24 and Bill is in his mid-50s. I think we’re both very open-minded with our musical tastes and pretty decent at analyzing music that we listen to,” he said.

“I think I have two points of view, from people who are 30 years apart [in age] – but liking the same music a lot is kind of fun.

Click on here to listen to the latest episode of each podcast.

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