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IW10: A Decade of Innocent Words Part 11: Surviving 10 Years

Last Updated 11/1/2012 10:56:20 AM

By: Troy Michael

February 2012 kicked off the 10th anniversary of Innocent Words Magazine. With that in mind, we have decided to write one retrospective feature each issue documenting our biggest moments, good, bad or otherwise. This is the last in the series and we can’t thank you enough for supporting Innocent Words Magazine.



Back in 2002 when I started Innocent Words Magazine, it happened so fast. For once in my life I didn’t over think things, and I just went out and did it. Frankly, I didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew what I wanted to do. Also, for a lack of a better term, it all seemed to come naturally for me.

This is not to say I did it on my own, not in the least bit. Luckily, my path in the music industry which led to this also gave me an abundance of friends along the way who worked at either labels, PR companies or were in bands. I also have a couple friends who became entertainment lawyers. Now to anyone thinking of starting any kind of business, it helps to have a really good lawyer, just in case.

Looking back, one thing that strikes me funny is that I am a pretty shy person. Crowds freak me out, and I don’t talk a lot if I don’t know you. And I have some health issues that dictate what I can and can’t do. However, through all of this, I felt, dare I say…comfortable? I learned that I absolutely loved networking. I think that comes from my nature of wanting to help people. There is nothing like spreading the word about a band you have discovered and have someone come back to you and say, “Hey, thanks for turning me on to that band, they are great.”

If you know anything about the music industry, especially independent music, it is not about the money. If you are in it for the money, well, you might want to look elsewhere. The music industry has changed so much in the 10 years since starting Innocent Words that it’s both pretty impressive and depressing.

When Innocent Words was launched there were still a lot of indie CD stores, indie magazines and music venues. Now it seems like those are half gone or dead altogether. When I was entertaining the idea of Innocent Words, a record label owner and friend of mine told me, “Most indie magazines last barely three years. If you can get to the three-year mark and are doing okay, then you are doing something good.”

I remember counting those issues month by month, waiting for the three-year mark, hoping we could survive. When we hit three years I felt some sort of relief, but it was still hard work. In fact, harder.

Just because we made three years didn’t mean we could coast, not in the least. There was still so much to learn. I learn something new every day now, and that’s one reason I love what I do.

We’ve had our scary moments, but nothing that shattered the base of Innocent Words. Somehow, some way it all works out. I am so lucky. The last year was probably our toughest with our editor stepping down when she started a family and our layout editor stepping down after seven years. Those two people are impossible to replace, but somehow, through the magic of music connections, we’ve got new editors on staff.

The biggest hurdle we have had to cross is the biggest decision I solely had to make on my own in December of 2008. That was taking Innocent Words from a print/online magazine to an online only magazine. I am old school; I still love magazines in my hand, but seeing ad sales plummet and my friend’s magazines fold like cheap tents, it was a decision that had to be done for us to survive. Survival, I think that’s what Innocent Words is all about….and of course, still helping out the underdogs in independent music.

Ten years of Innocent Words, and I still joke that I don’t know what I am doing, but whatever it is, it seems to be working.

Thanks for reading.
Troy Michael

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