NOBODY gets in XXL Magazine for free. EVERYONE PAYS! Whether it’s paying direct through advertising or paying indirectly through tens of thousands of dollars on PR, Marketing, Promotion, etc, it costs money!
The chances of you as an independent with only a few hundred followers on IG getting featured in XXL Magazine are practically ZERO!
This doesn’t make XXL the bad guy; it’s just business. XXL features established talent to tap into their fan base, in an attempt to stay relevant and sell advertising. They don’t BREAK new talent… they expose already successful talent to new audiences.
For the new artist who has talent but doesn’t have a $50,000+ marketing budget, their only option is to advertise. They can either buy ad space directly from XXL (Expensive), or they can purchase ad space from one of the various promo companies that buys ad space from XXL and cuts it into SMALLER, more affordable pieces (less Expensive).
While the second option is affordable, it has its issues. First, many companies misrepresent the ADVERTISING as editorial, and Second, there’s absolutely no filtering process. Anyone with the money gets placed (even the WACK MFs!). Last, because it’s just a money grab for most of the promoters the placements don’t even look good (Grainy photos, super small print, typos, no contact info, etc.)
As a fan of XXL and a supporter of independents, we wanted to provide an opportunity for real indie talent to get a great promotional look in the Freshman Class issue without having to pay for it. We decided to sponsor a couple pages and feature some dope Artists, Producers and DJs based purely on their talent and work ethic….
Unfortunately..... XXL wasn’t having that!
They took our $3,500… They accepted our layout (Even emailed back to say how Great it looked)… then at the VERY last minute pulled it from the magazine without even contacting us.
We finally received a refund for our money MONTHS later. But outside of the THOUSANDS of dollars we paid XXL… we also spent 100+ hours going through updates, reviewing music, writing copy and designing a very dope layout. All this was to provide FREE exposure for some very deserving independent Artists, Producers and Brands that we genuinely believe in and wanted to support.
Had things went well, we planned to sponsor 4 pages in each issue of XXL moving forward, but since that didn’t happen, I wanted to at least share the layout we did and shed some light on how XXL really feels about indies.
Before they finally gave us a refund, they graciously offered to “hold on to our money” for two pages in a future issue. I considered doing it before I wrote a letter to Vanessa, the editor in chief. Her response let me know that XXL Magazine and Townsquare Media are not the type of company I should be spending $10,000+/Year to support.
I don’t knock XXL for not featuring REAL indie artists (That’s not their business model). However, the fact that they blocked us from SPONSORING space to provide exposure for indie talent that they routinely ignore, rubs me the wrong way. In my book it’s bad business and shows how little they support the culture.
XXL Doesn’t support INDIES!
The whole 10th spot on the Freshman class is just a marketing gimmick to get FREE promo from social media influencers, so they can resell that attention to other brands like Trojan (Magnum Condoms). They’re not opening doors for indies… They’re not looking for new talent…. They’re just pimping you to gain digital relevance.
With all that being said… I would love for you to check out the spread that they didn’t feature in their most popular issue. We never announced who we were featuring in the ad because we wanted it to be a surprise. So look carefully, because YOU might be in it!