Michael Shea founder of Alternative Press spoke with NRR about the first annual Alternative Press Music Awards and the ever-changing music industry.

Mike Shea was 19 years old when he founded Alternative Press (AP). It was his way of distributing the news and music from the underground bands out to the world. Now AP has grown into an empire and, since 1985, they have battled the ever-changing music and media industry.

AP has announced the first annual Alternative Press Music Awards hosted by Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the show will air live on AXS TV on July 21. “It’s going be a huge show for [AP] it’s been an incredible experience in the first year it’s much more larger than we could’ve ever imagined,” Shea said.

Shea explained the reciprocation of the awards show announcement, “It was amazing when we announced the awards and how many people and artists just stepped in and said, ‘how do I help, what do you want us to do?’ It was really cool in this industry we have such a level of trust. The average relationship between the artist and the media is a very cat and mouse one, the new generation artists know they have to work the media these days and can’t hide behind the publicists anymore. So when these people sacrificed their time and wanted to be apart of the show regardless, those musicians really humbled the company and me,” he said.

Since day one, AP didn’t have the fancy business models or plans to build a company, “and maybe that’s why we are still around because we didn’t have a business plan…Most of the time it was just because we loved the music scene we were covering, we would just find people who wanted to be a part of communicating their love for music,” he said.

The successes of AP is something Shea probably didn’t imagine, “we were just a bunch of kids that were misfits and were into a bunch of underground music. We all loved music but we weren’t business people at all, and since then we have never been majorly financed by anybody, it was always a ‘take it as we go’ process,” he said.

The trials while working in any art or entertainment industry in a digital age is, people think the art should be free. “The struggles we have had over the years is, sometimes they forget we are a business and we need to make money so we can grow and do bigger and better things. I think any art has that struggle,” he said.

Adapting to change is something the AP hasn’t struggled with they are constantly coming up with new ideas and looking at the bigger picture on how to connect the fans to their favorite bands. “Every musician, artist, record label, movie studio, and so forth, start off small at some point or another have to make a decision of how they want to be,” he said.

“There are some bands that don’t want to get too big they want to stay true to their principles, so they will always play the same size room and be happy doing that, other bands want to get bigger and reach and influence more people, they want their music to be heard, they want to play smaller venues when they want, not because it’s what available, and there is nothing wrong with either of those equations,” he said.

“I think at some point you just can’t be so hard on yourself, sometimes its really easy to be so concerned about what somebody’s going to think, because they think you’re being too greedy, and that’s not the point. We are trying to sell more so we can get more to the fans and teach them about other artists maybe they didn’t know about. Credibility is a main concern in our office.” He said.

The Internet has been a big help to AP, “we are able to communicate with the people who are calling us out and criticizing us, and we are able to see those who had a point vs. those that just complain, we then realized we didn’t have to be so hard on ourselves,” he said.

We live in a digital age, It’s not to say print is dead it’s just on a new level. “There is a reason media companies will not become irrelevant, ultimately in the end an artist is afraid to get to close to its fans, so with all the social media it reverts back the marketing campaign. An artist won’t tell you through social media what the song is about, that’s for the journalist to get out of the musician.” He said.

“Back in the 70’s looking at all the stories done by music journalists for artists like, The Doors, The Who, and Led Zeppelin, they were able to get the stories about how the records were made, if you would’ve left it up to the musicians, they never would’ve told you.” He said.

Journalism is still a dominant source of information in the press industry, “We do have a role and social media can’t replace us, people in the tech industry want you to believe journalists can be replaced. You can say all day long print is dead, magazines are dead, journalism is dead when in reality it’s just on another platform and now you’re engaged by clicking on advertisements.” He said.

As for the fans killing the industry Mike Shea believes the fans are coming to a realization about the distribution of media and art needs to be paid for, “People are actively wanting to support the arts, they are beginning to save the industry.”

The best advice Shea received was from his first accountant, “a great guy and really patient because I didn’t know anything about finances or accounting but he taught me a lot. When I was stressed he would tell me, ‘this too shall pass’ meaning whatever bullshit you’re going through in your life right now will always get better, the bad is temporary and it will work itself out,” he said.

The Alternative Press Music Awards
AlternativePress-AwardsLogo.fwThe APMAs are broadcasted by official digital media partner AXS TV, who will have a special red carpet pre-show area co-hosted by new addition CM Punk and Automatic Loveletter frontwoman/The Voice season two runner-up Juliet Simms.

In addition to covering broadcasting the red carpet pre-show, AXS TV broadcasted the award show on July 21. and featureed footage from the official VIP boat party. Viewers can head to www.axs.tv/apmas/ to watch exclusive behind-the-scenes videos and view photos, as well as take part in live polls and get involved on social media.

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About The Author

Hailing from Boston and now residing in the Metro Detroit area, Mick has spent several years photographing concerts and interviewing musicians in the music industry. After spending a few years shooting and writing for MOTORCITYBLOG.net, he founded and started the National Rock Review in the fall of 2013. Recruiting staffers from around the world, he has led the National Rock Review team in to a respected and established publication in the online music news/press industry in a short period of time.