Written by: Caitlyn McGonigal
Ascribe was founded in my bedroom in Center City Philadelphia on the night of March 4th, 2019. It almost sounds poetic when you put it that way, but it really was a turning point for me and my career. Looking back, I had no idea what was to come, and I wish I could go back and tell myself a year ago just how amazing and rewarding the experience of founding a magazine would be.
Nineteen years old at the time, I had photographed one show, but I knew music photography was something I was passionate about. A girl I had networked with suggested that I join a publication to get my foot in the door and get some experience. It seemed simple enough, but it was really anything but. I had no idea where to begin, but after applying to a few and never hearing back, I decided to start my own. How hard could it be?
The answer to that is: harder than I thought, but still incredibly worth it. It took a few months of chiseling away at our ideas to find what we were going to focus on, but after some rebranding six months into existing, Ascribe came to be what it is today. We approach music coverage with an eye for detail, but the big picture is always kept in mind. What makes someone unique, but also where do they fit into the genres we cover? Why is this band skyrocketing, and could their approach to music revolutionize the scene? What issues are prevalent in the music industry right now, and how will they change things in the long run?
Over at Ascribe, we try to offer content people wouldn’t find anywhere else. So while we do offer new release write-ups, playlists, photo galleries, and track-by-track reviews, we also work on interviews, coordinating guest blogs, and op-ed pieces that focus on topics like inclusivity and accessibility in the scene.
I say “the scene”, but that’s a broad term for us. Ascribe focuses on the latest and greatest pop, indie, and alternative. Our “scene” consists of anything from glittery, bubblegum-pop to hardcore metal, and indie pop artists to emo rap. It’s important to note that music is fluid, and often doesn’t fit into one genre. We want to offer the artists we cover creative expression, and in order to do that, you can’t box them into one label.
Our team of contributors is just as versatile as the artists we cover. I know from experience just how hard it can be to find work in music photography / music journalism as a young person, so having a team consisting of young creatives is incredibly important to me. This generation is going to be the one that runs the industry soon! Lots of our team members are still in college, just recently graduated, or are just navigating life trying out different things they’re passionate about. We get that, and we believe in that. Giving them the chance to grow in a professional setting while possibly early on in their career is valuable, and is something that sets us apart, I think. Many of our photographers also dabble in writing for the magazine, as well. We work hard to foster a safe space for these creatives to grow and try new things, such as writing or editing, so that they get a wide array of experience and get to know what they do and don’t like.
Building a publication from the ground-up isn’t easy, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the team I have. From our contributors, to the artists we work with, and those artists’ teams, it all matters. I’ve learned so much from every single person Ascribe has worked with, and I feel like I learn something new every day by running this publication. The knowledge and experience is so rewarding. It’s a privilege to be able to watch our contributors and the artists we cover grow and experiment and try new things, and I’m very grateful for it. We’ve got contributors all over the world, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us.