Plan B Magazine #0
OK. Here’s the first in the series. I’m still trying to figure out the best way of doing this, so apologies if any of this seems clumsy. I’m planning on putting these up twice a week until we’ve got the entire run of Plan B Magazine back up online. Any suggestions on how to streamline this process, or indeed comments about Plan B Magazine, are more than welcome. It’d be nice to run other people’s thoughts about the magazine as this series progresses.
(If you can’t be bothered to read all the words that follow, the link to the download is at the bottom.)
Here’s the opening editorial of the first issue of Plan B Magazine. We called it issue zero because it wasn’t intended – originally – for mass consumption. It was a trial run. See if it’d work. You have to understand that when this was written we were pretty much an editor down (already!) and had been determined from the outset that the magazine should both pay for itself and (at the very least) its main editors’ time. Careless Talk Costs Lives was brilliant, but we worked unpaid on it for two solid years, with no base. So publisher Chris Houghton, designer Andrew Clare and myself had spent some considerable time sourcing printers, filling in arts council grant applications (unsuccessfully) and visiting fellow publishers such as James Brown, then just having launched the film title Hotdog. Oh, and promising ourselves that the money available to pay us for doing so was just around the corner. (That went on for some considerable time.) Issue zero was supposed to be a dummy issue to show off to all the appropriate business folk, but it kept expanding and expanding, and ultimately none of us could bear the idea of not making available something we’d put so much work into. So then we figured we better have advertising, to pay for the print costs; and we better have a cover charge otherwise no one would take it seriously.
We got national distribution off the back of my name, and the ads that first came in were clearly the residue from CTCL. Our nominated Editor David McNamee was full of great ideas about content, especially with regards to the front section, and ways to treat it (one favourite was everyone taking on the name of other, more famous, music critics, just to queer the pitch), but the launch came at a bad time for him.
We were making it up as we went along, basically. We didn’t have an office, had no money, no ads team as such… just bundles of enthusiasm, plenty of volunteers, masses of interns who became a regular fixture in the basement of my Brighton house, and a certain arrogance. We wanted, from the outset, to have illustrations on the cover. Something that didn’t entirely happen. We just knew we were better – or at least different to – everyone else. Sarah Bowles had been recommended to us by Steve Gullick. Katrina Howat was someone I’d met a few weeks previous, and been impressed by. Sophie was a friend of Frances, Richard Stacey was one of the finest interns I’ve ever had, if a little slow at transcribing, Miss AMP and Neil Kulkarni were called Staff Writers because they were two of our favourite writers, Chris assembled a sales team from literally out of nowhere, and so it went…
The Features Editor I refer to below is Frances Morgan, who took over as main Editor the following issue. Above anyone else, Frances was the person responsible for the overall editorial direction of the title, and for keeping it going way above and beyond the call of duty. Oh, and before I forget: total respect to our unpaid team of sub-editors.
The final line of the editorial is a Dexys Midnight Runners song. As was the title of the magazine.
Friday 26 March
Let me start by explaining something.
Plan B doesn’t exist. Not even as a visual concept. There’s an ideal, sure. But I haven’t even begun to work out what tone the copy should take – full-on enthusiastic, or serious and worthy like The Wire perhaps, or aware of its impotence and hence full of soundbites like everyone else, cantankerous like Private Eye… full of discourse? Who knows?
Our old magazine Careless Talk Costs Lives got onto MTV recently: an interview conducted by two Swedes the same month it disintegrated, the girl looking up at me with something that looked scarily like awe, finishing off my ‘I’m Everett True’ sentence with, “and you’re a genius”. What was weird was the number of times my performing alter-ego The Legend! was shown. Man, I was loving it – it’s only taken 20 years for him to get on the small screen.
Plan B, then. Don’t get me wrong. Plan B is ready to roll. Just need to get the ads, business and print side sorted out, and we’re all set. My new editors suggest some fine ideas. I find our Features Editor intimidating; she’s more articulate and passionate than me, which puts me at a disadvantage. Designer Andrew Clare is frighteningly virile (in a passive-aggressive sense). All the ideas thrown up only serve to further confuse my already saturated brain (saturated from meetings with prospective interns, and contributors, and editors).
I think this new team is gonna work out fine.
Indeed, my only worry about the editorial side of Plan B is they’ll be too much their own people and scorn every last band I love as not being cerebral or soulful enough. We need to expand the remit we gave ourselves at Careless Talk to include all the music we love, not just that which is being ignored elsewhere. Obviously, it’s all about balance and context, but there’s no reason why Kelis and The Streets can’t nestle up snugly next to Art Brut and Kaito.
Wednesday 31 March
Travel to London. Our publisher Chris, events manager Anna Marie and I discuss various strategies that don’t suck. Yep. You read it right – strategies that don’t suck (and that don’t lose us loads of money we don’t have either). Meet Sarah Bowles, and I’m blown away at how enthused she is to take on the role of photography editor, especially considering how talented she is, and how thankless the job can be. Maybe she won’t realise … er … assuming she doesn’t read.
Saturday 3 April
Meet Janine, our music ads manager. I coach her about the launch…We produce a pilot issue mid-June, distributed nationwide, supported by flyers, the website, club nights and hopefully a lecture tour. Once the pilot is out, we contact organisations designed to support ventures like ours and end up with enough funding to launch in earnest in September. We spread the word without once compromising the central vision of the magazine.
What’s the central vision? Ah, come on. Surely, you don’t need to ask. It’s all about the music – and the art and books and film – that we love.
Wednesday 7 April
Current listening: Klang, Heist, Lolita Storm, !!!, Spektrum, DJ Shitmat and Cocorosie.
Thursday 15 April
Man, I’m frustrated with myself. Can’t sleep. Too hyped up. Great editorial meeting yesterday. Sarah’s photos of Erase Errata kick my ass. Everyone agrees Andrew’s provisional cover illo of a lab technician sticking a syringe into a chick’s eyeball (Chicks On Speed) rocks. Frances suggests that I should interview Spektrum, as I’m the only one old enough to remember the bands they’ve been compared to (ESG, The Slits, A Certain Ratio) first time round. David’s full of great ideas for The Void: small features that aren’t dumbass. Chris is having a meeting to see if we can get the interactive media approach happening. But anyway… frustrated.
Haven’t slept, and got six meetings in London today – publishing, architecture, finance, news, music, PR and live concert. FUCK!
Saturday 8 May
“Strive for greatness – or at least originality.”
I was lecturing to some media students yesterday. After hearing me dismiss NME and Q as being put together by people embarrassed to be writing about indie music, someone asked what I’m looking for in Plan B contributors. I can never think of what to say in these situations. “Be yourself,” I replied lamely, well aware that most music criticism is a series of clichés, wrapped up in woolly liberalism and the self-righteousness of the young.
“Your writing should make me wanna rush out and buy – or burn – the discussed artist’s records.”
Saturday 22 May
Got some posters printed up of the cover to issue zero. Nice blue! Just need some cover lines now…
Thursday 3 June
Final day of proofing before the magazine is sent away to the printer. Realise I ought to write an editorial. How can I convince potential readers and advertisers and investors that this is a magazine not just worthy of their support, but absolutely fucking vital to new music, here and abroad? Read the words! Gasp at the photographs! Swoon at the illustrations! Damn…I don’t know.
This is issue zero. The magazine will launch properly in September, in time for the new student year. In the meantime, anyone interested in regular updates, reviews, blogs, subscriptions and features should check out www.planbmag.com. Please drop us a line. We really are interested in your thoughts.
Let’s make this precious.
Everett True, Editor-In-Chief
You can download the first issue of Plan B Magazine (#0) for free, at this link.