"I’ll be the first to admit my own ignorance when it comes to politics or social controversies. That ignorance stems from a lack of trust in the sources I hear them from. I’m the exact person The Mainline reaches out to. I feel I have no voice and I’m full of frustrations. Whether or not I can hold an 'intelligent' conversation about political policies and the ins and outs of social injustices, I do have a sense of intuition when I know something is just not right. After reading 'The Stand Or Fall Issue,' I got a plethora of objective knowledge as well as a sense of unity and connection to people who feel just as I do. It’s through their writing I feel heard." — Ashley Bansemer, a real live person who read our magazine in Atlanta, Ga.
"The Mainline makes important and relevant issues accessible and relatable to readers. It’s mission to uplift young progressive southern voices comes at a crucial moment where trust in traditional outlets is waning. The Mainline injects new thinking around the divisive politics impacting our lives, while marrying the work of local artists and writers in one refreshing publication. The Mainline is the zine we deserve." — Andrea Ackerman, a staff specialist at Open Society Foundations and one of our writers based in New York City
"The Mainline is keeping an evolving perspective and sensing the shifting weight amongst the crowds. I am tired of being told what to hear by big advertising and its various faces. That’s why this magazine is so special: it is a way for ideas and thoughts that aren’t always at the forefront—but are prevalent in the way we speak, emote, and self-express—to have a voice. It’s not a clique. It’s not about trendsetting. It's about context. We can stay the same and bemoan the infrastructure collapse... or we can pick ourselves up, adjust, and reformulate the culture rag. Art is happening. Stories worth telling are being told and we’re listening. It’s not over." — Sara Rachele, another real live person in Atlanta, Ga.
"Picking up a copy of the Mainline and reading it cover to cover is like a breath of fresh air, especially for someone like me who receives his news from a black mirror. I love its unique take on covering current events—young, diverse, studied writers taking on important and often touchy topics with passionate rigor—in a deftly curated periodical." — Matt Ruppert, a supposedly real person who sent us his feedback via e-mail from Amsterdam, the Netherlands
"Having a place in this society is far less important than creating a society in which one would want to have a place." — Mario Savio
The Mainline is a new independent publication based in Atlanta, Ga., that is revamping traditional journalism and modes of expression in print and online. We will publish quarterly issues along with regularly updated content on our official website www.mainlinezine.com. Also visit us on Instagram @mainlinezine to see what else we have done so far!
The Mainline made its print debut in July 2019 with Issue One: "The Stand or Fall Issue," a special issue that took an in-depth look into the abortion bans passed in spring 2019 in various states in the Southeast and Midwest of the United States. The timing of this issue was unexpected—our original plan was to release Issue One in late September—but being based in the Southeast with the rising heat of this political climate, we found that we had plenty to say and felt an urgency to do so to help build up our communities and get our voices out there.
We didn't hold back. We were able to print 600 copies with our budget and "The Stand or Fall Issue" is currently out in Atlanta, Brooklyn, Nashville, and Seattle. Issue Two, "The Way Out Issue," will be released on Sept. 26, with plans of higher circulation numbers and distribution in additional cities.
While "Stand or Fall" is definitively geared towards activism and sociopolitical commentary, it is only one facet of The Mainline's coverage. We will cover three majors areas—music, news, and the human condition—which are explained in detail below. The Mainline is a space to dig deep into music, art, community, and the issues that plague us with more grit, more humor, less polish, no filter. It is a new platform and outlet where we can push against the status quo of the current state of the media and claim our power back. And there are plenty of opportunities for growth.
Our core values as a publication are authenticity, accountability, and accessibility. Our goal is to reach and re-engage a demographic that has fallen disassociated, apathetic, and complacent in today's world. What was originally going to be a small music zine turned into a publication that broke into multiple cities with its debut... and we have a lot more work to do as artists, journalists, and activists.
Aja Arnold, Founder & Editor-In-Chief
Aja is an Atlanta native who has spent her entire life writing, observing, and reporting. She merged her obsession with music and her love of writing in adolescence, writing her first album review of Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation when she was 16. She began her tenure at Georgia State University in 2007 and acquired her Bachelor's in Journalism with a Minor in Sociology in 2018. To help explain this long pursuit: Aja surrendered to her struggles with drug addiction and alcoholism in March 2016 and has been clean and sober in recovery since. She was published in Atlanta's gutwrench in 2016 and worked as a contributor at Creative Loafing as a music writer from 2017-2019. She has also worked as a copywriter at Response Mine Interactive and freelancer at other publications and organizations including Restaurant Informer and Georgia Organics. Aja's mission is to help others gain insight into their own and each other's struggles, help cultivate real change, and give others a new creative platform throughThe Mainline.
Katie Drake, Creative Director
Katie (aka Kether Drella) is a multidisciplinary artist born and raised in Atlanta. She has been consistently active in the visual and performing arts from a very young age, save a brief foray into academia (BA’s in Anthropology & Art History; Georgia State University Class of 2012) and the Atlanta film industry (ICG Local 600 Camera Utility & 2nd Assistant Camera). In recent years, she has appeared in and directed several music videos ("Drained" by Material Girls, "Baby" by Karaoke, "Your Imagined Past" by Shepherds [official release pending], and more); helped to create and appeared in two local drag theatre productions (The Man Downstairs and Boyman: The Musical) as a lead artist and performer; designed and created custom silk screened merchandise for local bands and organizations; and is currently taking on the roles of Creative Director and Event Coordinator for local arts and culture projects including The Mainline, BitchMade, and My Illegal Body.
Richard Martin | Editorial Photographer
Richard Martin is a professional photographer based in Atlanta and received his Bachelor's in Film & Video from Georgia State University in 2013. He began his career working with an array of bands, including Run the Jewels, and has been published by AfroPunk and Pitchfork. While he initially wanted to start his own zine called "Human," Richard met Aja in Jan. 2019 who had already begun laying down the groundwork for The Mainline, which was very similar to his vision. He accepted the role of Editorial Photographer at The Mainline and provides a refreshing insight and upbeat work ethic to the team, ready to create and let these stories grow.
We are joined by a team of 20+ freelance writers and artists, and counting. Our team is a mix of academics, journalists, and music nerds who have been fortunate enough to receive certain opportunities and an education that not everyone is afforded. Therefore, we think it is absolutely vital that we spread this information and our resources as much as possible and get it into the hands of those who need it most.
Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, there has been a common thread of profound unrest in marginalized communities and indie culture driving people to create on a visceral level. In this era of cultural distrust, where lying and facades have become the norm, authenticity is something we crave more and more. Without art, expression, and community, we have next to nothing to help us grow, learn, and ultimately survive in what can be a hostile, destructive world. Art, music, and community give us hope.
The Mainline goes into various genres, including but not limited to rock, punk rock, hip-hop, rap, and electronic. Since we are based in the epicenter of hip-hop, we have special access to exciting new developments in the industry (teaser: a big story coming in October 2019). But it's not just hip-hop that's blowing up. Currently, Atlanta's music scenes of all types are booming with talent that are crossing national and international lines, such as Material Girls, Omni, All the Saints, the Queendom, Sequoyah, Shepherds, and many more. This boost comes after a period where local music culture plateaued as the industry became overly saturated due to streaming services and social media. The Mainline is here to showcase the best up-and-coming acts and artists in Atlanta and help them level up on a national level. While doing that, we will help Atlanta carve out its cornerstone in the national cultural landscape.
With an utmost affinity to our home base, we are dedicated to promoting intersectionality, open-mindedness, and diversity within our communities and carrying that ethos beyond our perimeter. We are not limiting ourselves to Atlanta as we continue to expand into other cities. The Mainline will contribute to boosting Atlanta's status as a new cultural hub in the Southeast as it continues to seek out and stay open to other artists all over the country and the world.
The Mainline was essentially born out of a journalist's frustrations with today's media landscape and the increasing levels of disconnection and divisiveness among us. In a time where many outlets seem more concerned with their likeability online and the number of followers they have, it's apparent that while social media made it possible for us to broaden our connections, it's also made them shallower. And after the 2016 U.S. presidential election, we saw the 24/7 news cycle become infested with ridiculous tweets and outbursts, taking the lens off many important issues, even if just temporarily.
We take closer, in-depth looks into stories, trends in politics, and the media and cultivate awareness amongst our readers about what is really going on in America. "The Stand or Fall Issue" took a close look into the abortion bans, but this is just the beginning of movements we've tapped into. In Nov. 2018, we saw Stacey Abrams lose our state's gubernatorial election to former Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who has been regularly accused of implementing voter suppression tactics in Georgia since 2008. While some outlets mention or give momentary pause to this issue, there aren't many taking a magnifying glass to the issue and delivering it to the necessary demographic. Topics such as this tend to get bogged down and lost in the distractions of headline news and political drama. Despite substantial evidence of voter suppression in Georgia and elsewhere, we live in a time where many feel as if they don't need to vote. We believe this needs to change before any other constructive change can happen. Our publication will not turn its back on this or get sucked into the toxic media cycle.
The Mainline is aligned with Fair Fight Action—an Atlanta-based national organization founded by Abrams that advocates for election reform, engages in voter education, and encourages voter turnout in order to secure the voting rights of all Georgians — and has gained press access to pertinent information in regards to voter suppression in Georgia and the upcoming trial between Abrams and the state of Georgia that will begin discovery this fall. This is unchartered territory: never before has a single election sparked an entire movement in the US. We will be present at the trial and provide ongoing coverage, keeping readers across the nation up to date with the trial and what this means in the movement to help establish fair and free elections in the U.S. This isn't just about Georgia; we will be providing in-depth coverage and alternative perspective of a movement that will prove significant leading up to the presidential elections in 2020 and 2024.
We've also teamed up with Fair Choice—another Atlanta-based non-profit that is dedicated to ensuring a fair count in Georgia in the U.S. 2020 Census. Issue four (due out in late March 2020, right around the time the Census is being conducted and before the big push in April) will be dedicated to this topic, helping readers understand the importance of the census, the work that lies ahead, and what we can do individually and together.
Other issues we will cover include police brutality, climate change, equal rights for the LGBTQ community, criminal justice reform, gentrification in growing cities, and more. The Mainline is stepping up to be a platform for grassroots movements and activists to blow the whistle, offering a space for participants to write op-eds and features with no other agenda in mind other than to deliver the truth and hold those in power accountable.
Being in such heavy and tumultuous times, we think it's extremely important to promote wellness among our readers and in our generation. If we don't know how to best take care of ourselves—inside and out—we can't help anyone. We engage readers by creating a discussion about important issues and normalizing conversations surrounding drug addiction/alcoholism, recovery, trauma, mental health, and spirituality with an intention of bridging the gaps between one another and rebuilding connection. Because no matter who you are or where you find yourself, we all have one thing in common: the human condition. With that comes a lot of baggage to unpack.
Our publication has a level of transparency and vulnerability that transcends what social media and standard media outlets offer. While Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram may provide us with feelings of connection and validation, those moments are fleeting and ultimately unfulfilling. Our publication helps our readers but is also a safe space and cathartic platform for our contributors and subjects (writers, musicians, artists, creators of all types) to get their voices heard. The Mainline makes a conscious effort to start discussions and bring our readers and our staff to greater levels of understanding without fear, judgement, or shame. This section publishes other mediums outside of journalism writing, such as novel excerpts, poems, and short stories.
"When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else." — Toni Morrison
This isn't just about us. Your support of The Mainline has an extremely broad outreach. It's not just the dream of Aja, Katie, & Richard—it's a dream and opportunity for a growing number of writers, musicians, artists, activists, and grassroots movements. We are a resource for our readers, an outlet for creators and activists, a platform for marginalized groups, and a booster for small businesses. Your donation here has a major ripple effect that will reach so many people with no bounds in sight.
Why we are doing print—aren't print publications dying anyway?: While we have all witnessed the decline of print publications in a digital age, that's not necessarily the case for all print. Instead, it means certain magazines hone in on different business models and widen their range of mediums for content. For example, we will have a website that will publish original content that doesn't go in print and eventually publish all of our print content; but the print goes out first. We're also in discussions regarding a podcast. Also, publications that are what Hearst Magazines president Troy Young calls "content with a purpose" give audiences a break from the overwhelming digital world. With our worlds becoming more and more saturated and bombarded, the experience of holding something tangible in your hands to flip through and connect with is becoming more and more appreciated. (Like how vinyl records didn't disappear after tapes, CDs, mp3s, and streaming services became a thing. There's still a market for it.) Our content is a blend of articles, personal essays, artwork, and photography—the best way to deliver this content is in a curated package and give our readers something real to hold onto.
Now that you know about us, let's get down to brass tacks. Your support to this project won't just ensure that this publication gets completely off the ground, but will ensure that we can rise to the occasion as much as possible. As we mentioned above: there are plenty of opportunities for growth. Our goal is set at $10,000. Reaching this goal will get us rolling in production for issues 2, 3, & 4. We hope to expand beyond that and keep the momentum going, but that is a generous place to start. (Stretch rewards explained in the next section.)
You should know what you're investing in and there's no other way to explain this besides being completely transparent. Here are the numbers for our costs of goods and operation:
Print issues: We print our issues with Printivity based in San Diego, Ca., which offers the most competitive prices out there (from what our research showed). Our forthcoming issues will be 8.5" x 11" page dimensions and around 60 pages. For issue two, we are planning on printing 1,000 copies and distributing to our original locations (Atlanta, Nashville, Seattle, and Brooklyn) and additional cities. We can go bigger, if we have the means to do it! Given our feedback after issue one, we see that people want more and we have connections all over.
We were able to put out our first issue with a small wave of crowdfunding along with the help of a few local advertisers. While we offer ad spaces to small businesses and organizations, we don't heavily rely on them to pay for the costs of the magazine. We are here to help support them in hard financial times while lowering our overhead a little bit at the same time.
ISSUE 2 SPECS: 8.5" x 11", Full color, No gloss finish, 60 pages. 1,000 copies quoted at $3,542 ($3.54 per issue).
ISSUE RELEASE TIMELINE:
Issue Two: Sept. 26, 2019 | Issue Three: Dec. 19, 2019 | Issue Four: March 26, 2020 | Issue Five: June 25, 2020 | Issue Six: Sept. 24, 2020 | Issue Seven: Dec. 17, 2020
Website: Our website is currently under construction with plans of being launched in September ahead of our second print issue's release. Our website will feature additional content that won't be featured in print, as well as photograph galleries, videos, mixes, and more creative work. (And eventually, a podcast!) Our website will also be extremely instrumental in our coverage of Fair Fight Action's case against the state of Georgia beginning this fall and going into next year.
The cost of the website launch is $500 and quarterly maintenance/security updates are $200. We have the great pleasure of working with Matt Schwartz, founder & CEO of Inspry here in Atlanta, who designed Arts ATL's website along with others.
Office space: We are currently operating out of Alkaloid Networks in the Sampson Street Loft Co-op spaces in Atlanta, paying for the minimal "flex desk" plan that costs $125 a month. We needed more space to host meetings and do editorial work ... and honestly, we just got tired of meeting in bars and coffeehouses. We are extremely grateful to be able to utilize such a great space with conference rooms, desks, and office supplies in an extremely supportive community at such an affordable cost.
Content production: As we stand right now, all of our contributors are doing this work as a labor of love. No one is in this for the money and we are currently submission-based. We are all in this because we feel as if we have to and want to create a new space in our society where we can truly make a difference and be heard. The board hopes to one day make this our full-time jobs, but that is not expected in our first year. As a start-up, we know that is the nature of the business and we all continue to work our day jobs (or night jobs, since many of us are in the service industry). Funding will help cover costs for photo shoot materials, studio space time, and other production needs.
Our rewards are listed, but let's take a moment to expand on our stretch rewards.
The rewards we are offering can be offered again and again beyond issues 2, 3, & 4. Issue 2 is underway; issue 3 is in ideation stages; and issue 4 is already bubbling in the background. Make no mistake, we are in this for the long-haul. We can not stress this enough: we've got plenty of room to grow and endless things to create—help us do it!
Space rewards: We offer options of 1/4 page space and 1/2 page space to potential backers, which can be used for another brand, a small business, or organization/movement or to publish a creative endeavor of yours (illustrations, poems, etc). These rewards are priced considering our circulation numbers and our distribution plans. This is a great opportunity to not just support us, but help support other worthy organizations or businesses (maybe your own!). Please keep in mind that the editorial team of The Mainline has the final say in what content gets published. We will not publish or support any oppressive, violent, or hate-fueled causes or organizations that are not aligned with equal human rights and social justice.
OUR DISTRIBUTION PLANS FOR FORTHCOMING ISSUES:
Asheville, NC | Atlanta, GA | Birmingham, AL | Brooklyn, NYC. | Columbus, OH | Chicago, IL | Denver, CO | Indianapolis, IN | Los Angeles, CA | Nashville, TN | New Orleans, LA | Portland, OR | Providence, RI | Seattle, WA | More to be announced when they are locked in!
Print issues rewards: The longer we are in business, the more content we will be able to create. Therefore, as we continue to publish quarterly issues, the print issue rewards will continue to be signed, sealed, delivered.
Merchandise: Gotta have that swag! And the swag is limitless. We have sent in our designs and are awaiting production completion for stickers, buttons, totes, and t-shirts so that we can be seen and carry our ethos all over. We are working closely with Tower Press in Atlanta for all our merchandise and flyer needs. T-shirts and tote bags are being custom made by Katie and are limited! We will do this first run for these editions and have new designs for the next round once we run out.
Join us. Join these causes. Resist the meaninglessness.
Risks and challenges
The Mainline LLC—although it became Aja's brainchild in 2016—was registered with the state of Georgia in May 2019. So far, the biggest challenge we have had is that we are growing extremely fast with increasing demand and our seemingly endless ideas.
This isn't a bad thing. It means there is a space for us. Our team and content are growing more and more every day. We are extremely grateful and humbled by the immense positive reception and imminent success we have seen thus far. The more funding we secure and support we gain, the more certain we are that we can rise to this challenge and grow beyond it.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)