I had a chance to ask the founders, Jonathan and Melissa a few questions about the magazine and, lucky for us, they were super candid!
Let's dive right in, shall we?
Q) For those who are just being introduced to Submerge Magazine, how would you characterize the publication? What can people expect to find between the front and back covers?
A) Submerge is an arts and entertainment publication available for free every other week all over the Sacramento region. We feature interviews, previews and reviews based around the music, art, comedy, fashion and food happenings in our region. People can expect national coverage blended with regional coverage. So in any given issue you might find an interview with a touring band or comedian coming through town mixed with plenty of regional coverage, as well as restaurant reviews, an entertainment calendar and we also have regular columnists. As cliche as it sounds, there is a little something for everyone in every issue of Submerge.
Q) How long have you been publishing Submerge Magazine? What prompted you to start a publication like this?
A) We are currently on issue #135 (that's crazy to think about!) so it's been over five years. We launched this bad boy in early 2008, just as the economy was hitting rock bottom. We didn't care much about that, because we knew we had a strong idea and a solid business plan. Being a free publication, we rely on advertising dollars and right away we got the attention of some of Sacramento's best bars, venues, restaurants, retailers, etc. and partnered with them. We owe so much to our advertisers! It's a beautiful partnership that we've built with all of them. What prompted us to start a publication like this was just taking a look at the Sacramento region and thinking, "Wow, there is SO much cool stuff happening here between the music scene, arts scene, restaurant and beer/cocktail scene, etc." and we knew we could provide some fresh, hip coverage of all that. My business partner (and soon to be wife) Melissa had tons of experience in the publishing world, specifically in the design and editorial departments. I've always been a natural at marketing and sales, so our two skill-sets combined really made launching a business like this possible.
Q) What were you both doing for a living before you started the magazine? (Care to share any funny career/education stories that led you to where you are today?)
A) We both graduated from CSU, Chico. That's where we met. Years ago when we moved to Sacramento and started thinking about doing Submerge, we had part-time "regular" jobs to pay the bills. I worked at a local brewery for a while (RIP Sac Brew!), Melissa did graphic design work for a local print shop. Eventually the mag got so busy that we both were able to drop the part-time gigs to focus solely on Submerge. We don't make a killing by any means, but we make enough to pay the bills, and we can do so by supporting and promoting the regions arts and entertainment scenes, so we're pretty happy with how things have worked out!
Q) What are your favorite elements of magazine publishing? Is there anything you've discovered over the years that surprised you about the industry?
A) I love that we are one of only a few remaining print publications in town. As we all get more and more connected and dependent on our digital devices, it's nice to know that we are giving people an option of something to physically hold onto and read over a cup of coffee, or a beer, or at a boutique in midtown, or while waiting for a bus or train, etc. We do have a website as well as a digital flip book version of every issue available online, we aren't dinosaurs over here, but giving people something to physically hold onto feels nice.
Q) The magazine focuses on the Sacramento region. What is it about Sacramento that inspires you to continue creating a free, local publication?
A) We are so proud to call Sacramento home and to be able to focus on some of the cooler things happening here. Melissa and I both grew up in really, really small towns, so I think that helps us appreciate all that the Sacramento region has to offer. There are amazingly talented musicians and artists here, as well as countless chefs, bartenders and restaurants to be proud of. We get some of the best comedians in the world touring through on a regular basis, and on top of all that, this region is just so extremely diverse. We absolutely love it here and can't imagine doing Submerge anywhere else!
Q) Submerge Magazine is pretty involved in the community and Sacramento's summer event season is coming up. Any cool collaborations or projects coming up that we should know about?
A) We're excited to be involved with Concerts in the Park, which happens every Friday evening in downtown Sacramento at Cesar Chavez Plaza and features free live music from many of the region's best acts. We're also stoked to be a big part of Launch Music/Art Festival again this year, we truly believe in the vision of the event's founders and we think that it is only going to grow each year and help to bring more attention to what Sacramento has to offer. On top of that, we've got some cool stuff in the works: some killer interviews and features scheduled for this summer, possibly partnering with a local photographer to produce Submerge video content, as well as continuing to grow our circulation and distribution. It's an exciting time for us here at Submerge!