THE IHEARTCOMIX 2015 YEAR IN REVIEW
“The Year of Evolution”
2015 was one hell of a ride.
IHEARTCOMIX came a long way in 2015 and changed in so many ways, most of which not by choice, all of which for the best. We were dragged kicking and screaming to a better place. It’s hard not to compare what happened to mutation (X-Men reference!). We hit puberty, went through a stressful situation and emerged a whole a new beast, a better, stronger IHC and a young version of the company we’ve always wanted to be.
The “IHC Year in Review” has become a tradition dating back to the very early days of the company. As we enter into our 12th year, I looked back on the last couple to see where my head was at going into 2015. It’s been such a blur and monumental shift from everything that had come before that I was pleased to discover I saw this coming on some level. Maybe it’s a lesson in manifestation, but things have gotten better and not worse. Considering 2013’s Year in Review was called “The Year of Failed Ambition & Self Discovery” and last year’s was “The Year of the Beginning”, it’s fitting that the title for 2015 is “The Year of Evolution”…
So, what changed this year? The better question might be to ask what didn’t. We got a new office in the Arts District (and with that my first place by myself w/o living where I work), which we share with Teenage/Hot Lava. We welcomed new team members into the fold (Joanna, Isabelle, Jackie, Eddie, Andrew, Jeremy). We got a venue that came with the office, an outdoor space we’ve dubbed “The Wilson Lot.” We stopped being a promoter and began focusing on every other part of our personality. We did a hell of a lot of agency work. We concentrated on editorial and content. We started a new record label. Hell, our entire infrastructure changed.
New became the new NEW for 2015. We found ourselves constantly confronting unexpected challenges and being presented with fresh opportunities, most of which were things we’d always wanted to do and, weirdly enough, were coming to US (something that was not common in the years before). I wish I could say most of what happened was all part of a grand plan (maybe it was the result of wishful thinking), but the reality was we were so burdened with trying to keep up that there was never time for planning, only experimenting. In fact, that’s my biggest regret of 2015, that there was such a lack of a plan (especially in the back half of the year) that we lost a bit of what makes us IHC along the way, only in that we were so busy doing, we weren’t also creating.
What’s the #1 thing you likely know IHEARTCOMIX for? Shows? We’ve quit those. We actually stopped months ago and you likely didn’t notice. We still have our hand in producing events and always will (we are great at it), but we aren’t buying shows and selling tickets anymore. We are no longer promoting. Promoters like Goldenvoice or Spaceland are no longer our peers. All the months of time and thousands of dollars we used to spend to throw an event that was experienced by a handful of people locally has been repurposed with the idea that now, many people all over the world will experience what we have to offer for a fraction of the time and cost. We are utilizing the meaningful relationships we’ve developed in more impactful ways. The structure of IHC as it appears now is closer to VICE or Marvel and will only be more so as we move into 2016.
This is what IHEARTCOMIX is now:
IHEARTCOMIX is a Editorial/Cultural resource and Content Creator. Our internal mandate to ourselves moving forward is “IHC is the intersection between music and geek culture”. That means our prime focus will be original editorial content on our website and social channels talking about all the rad stuff happening in media (this is what I mean by like VICE). In addition, we will be taking things one step further and really building on the IHC world with original content and concepts featuring our characters, personalities and vibe. It’s our goal to be a creative wheelhouse and studio. We aren’t going to just be talking about culture, we are going to be making it (this is what I mean by like MARVEL).
You’ve already started seeing twinkles of this with our singles & music video label ‘IHC 1NFINITY’ (in which everything takes place in a shared universe), our live stream events, branded events and random appearances by characters like Death Metal Santa Clause, Lil Lucifer and Anarchy Bunny.
If any of this comes as a surprise to you, believe me, it comes as one to me too. Looking back on the past couple years, the intent was always there. The talk of the vision always existed, and while breadcrumbs of it were real, the reality was always as soon as I sat back down at my desk to go back to the same old thing. It was like an addiction, a downward spiral of promoting with no way out that made larger goals feel financially impossible. It’s not to say we are rolling in dough now (we aren’t), but we put in the work to slowly over time make it a reality and well, in 2015, we put an end to those bad habits. The truth is, it was the shows and promoting them that were keeping us in the gutter. They were eating up all of our time and breaking even in the money dept (AT BEST). As soon as we cut that out, it was as if the weight of the world was lifted off of our shoulders and suddenly, everything changed.
The hardest part of the transition was letting go. Events are what built this company. It’s always been our foundation. So many people that are fans of IHC are because of the parties we’ve thrown for years. What I realized for myself (and I hope you guys do too) was that it was never just throwing the party that we were good at. It’s always been our ability to find and work with great talent and add so much care, creativity and skill on top. It was about the relationships we had built, who we are as creators and our ability to bring two (or more!) disparate forms of media/genre together. These are the elements that made us special and once I realized that there was a better way to do all those things and do them more (and not be flat broke while doing it), I had to. I hope you guys agree with that too.
I talk to fellow peers who own their own businesses and ask them advice. Most say, “Oh what you’re going through is normal,” but is it? I’ve never worked so hard in my life and yet at the end of it I feel like we are just beginning. Like now after 11 full years of being in business we can really be who we always wanted to be (I have to be the slowest person alive). We finally have all the right pieces in place, so we better not fuck it up.
I swear writing this shit is so exhausting. Every time I have to break down what IHC is now I’m adding another brick to the foundation of what it is. It’s that new (and exciting). So here, at the start of 2016 I find myself sitting atop my half built castle, staring out across the pastures of our kingdom thinking to myself “Well … what the fuck am I gonna do now?” That’s something we are about to figure out together. Let’s hope 2016 is the year of magic.