PLAYBACK:stl and PLAY:stl

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Jan 14 2008, 23h13

We started the magazine and the Web site pretty much at the same time in April 2002. It was a tiny black and white publication, 12-pages, but like everything else we do it escalated into something big and unwieldy soon after. Pouring ourselves and our salaries in to it the magazine grew to 72 pages and full color glossy. The Web site attracted millions of hits each month. The quality of the writing was exceptional (several of our editors and writers have gone on to bigger publications and actual salaries). We interviewed many fantastic bands and saw more shows than I can ever count.

In 2006 we found a national distributor and were ready to start selling the magazine on newsstands across the US and Canada (we already had distribution to about 100+ locations outside of St. Louis, but for free). We started transitioning and, at that moment we realized that a)print is very nice but the Web site attracts many more eyes, b)it would take us at least a year to establish ourselves on magazine stands and we would probably lose all our local advertising and c)shit, we were out of money and we needed to keep our house. October 2006 was our last issue. Tim Kasher and Cursive would glare out at me forever as a sign of our demise.

It took us about a month to realize that it was all good and damn, wasn't it nice to have our life and our garage back? Since then we have found that we still get great interview with the Web site. Writers and interns are a bit trickier. People still feel differently about something you can hold in your hand as opposed to cyberspace. And sometime around March of 2007 Laura (my partner and wife) said "let's do a festival!" She was the one who had used that very same phrase to usher in the magazine in 2001. Last September the first PLAY:stl took place. With timing and pure will we had 9 stages with 90 bands over three days. It went off without a hitch and actually made money. Most important we featured some amazing bands that literally wowed the audience. Besides the amazing Margot and the Nuclear So & So's we had Loyal Divide out of Chicago, Semi Precious Weapons from NYC, Go Motion, eleeven, King Thief, Modern Day Zero and many more. It was four months of planning, but it was lovely.

This year we hope to repeat it without some of the burps of not having a fucking idea what we were doing (yeah, liquor license and insurance are a good idea and try to give at least a week to that process). This year we want to leave the band count about the same but up the name appeal a bit. Still feature a bunch of locals, but tack them together with some other impressive bands like the ones I named above.

Thoughts, suggestions, send me an email here or at jim@playbackstl.com. One thing I have learned, you can't go wrong listening to other people's ideas.

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