Today marks 10 years since I started my online journey.
Back in 2008 I had a popular MySpace page that ended up with about ten thousand fans and a few million plays. The entire focus of my profile was based around Bay Area music, but it started to get to the point where various artists were asking me to premiere music, videos, news, etc.
I figured I could start a website and put all of that in one place — with that, The Based Update was born.
Instead of blindly posting everything that represented the Bay Area, I tried to post the cream of the crop with sprinkled in exclusives. The majority of those exclusives were tied to interviews — something (at the time) people enjoyed reading. I needed to find a creative way for people to come back, visit daily and not have it ‘look and feel’ like a copy & paste music website. Looking back at who I got to interview today — they featured now-famous artists, photographers, directors and CEO’s of various brands. While I still premiered music and videos, my interviews were the thing that stood out from similar sites trying to accomplish the same thing.
Since the site slowly started to generate some buzz — I had the pleasure of various clothing brands wanting to sponsor me. From there I started a new feature to review some of these brands and it became the biggest feature on this site. It grew into not only reviewing dozens of streetwear companies, but collaborating in tech with some well established global entities. I was contacted by Google to review their newest router, GoPro sent me cameras, Philips sent me equipment — even 50 Cent sent me a pair of headphones to speak on. Don’t ask me, I still don’t understand how that all happened. These companies didn’t pay me for these reviews, but the fact that I was getting free stuff in the mail was awesome — it still is.
If you’re too young to remember the MySpace days, the platform gave you full HTML control of your social media pages. With trial and error I learned how to add graphics, videos, layouts, change the colors and various other ways to manipulate the page. That ‘forced practice’ gave me enough knowledge to build out and customize not only my social media pages, but websites too.
What else did HTML do? It pushed me towards teaching myself Photoshop because I wanted my graphics to look a certain way on my social media pages and website.As you can already guess, this lead me to the world of graphic design.
How did it happen? Creating graphics for my social media pages and working with artists mixed perfectly. I started designing single covers, album covers, flyers… the works. From there the exposure was natural — more eyes equaled more opportunities. The fact that I was designing most of the artwork for artists like Bobby Brackins and Roach Gigz slowly enabled artists and clubs to start inquiring about my work. It was the best of both worlds because I was putting more money in my pocket while I was in school and, more importantly, it opened the door for bigger names to get involved.
Go figure that I could actually do something that people liked because I ended up creating artwork for the likes of Drake, Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Tyga, 2 Chains, G-Eazy, Wale, Snoop Dogg, Rick Ross, Gucci Man, Fetty Wap, Nipsey Hussle, YG, Ty Dolla Sign and dozens of similar artists. It was always amazing to me that I was getting contacted for work, which stemmed from a MySpace page. Looking back at it as I write this, it’s crazy to see how far this aspect has grown and how much it has helped with what I’ve been trying to accomplish, even to this day. If nothing else ever comes from it, it’ll still be cool to tell my future children and grandchildren.
Fun fact; one of the first single covers I ever created was Sage The Gemini’s “Gas Pedal” artwork which went 2x platinum.Statistic wise I’ve pushed out around 10,000 posts on The Based Update and about 14,000 on Young California. 25,000 posts on the internet is pretty shocking and a little embarrassing. That’s an average of 2,500 a year or about 7 posts a day, not including the weekends and major holidays where I usually didn’t post anything…
Did I mention posting on Young California? There’s an even longer story behind the way that all came together, but I’ll try to keep it short, since I could write a book about that.
Building my own website and creating my own buzz enabled me to meet some of the more influential people working on the West Coast. After collaborating on some shows and events we came together to form this ideal you all know today as Young California. I was the only member of the crew that wasn’t a DJ, so my role was bringing the brand online and turning the idea into a platform — alias, the Young California website and online presence. From there I curated nearly all the content, ran all the social media channels and designed everything in between. I was the man behind the curtain! (More on that at a later date.)
Fast forward to 2019 and this platform has been in use for nearly 8 years since we launched it. While it was in full effect well over 2 million unique visitors came to check out the site — beyond that, throw in over 100 million hits, over 10 million plays on Soundcloud, an organic following on Twitter with millions of impressions every month and 52,000 followers on Instagram, verification — the works. The team even helped artists break out on a global scale including the likes of G-Eazy, YG, Kehlani, Tinashe, Sage the Gemini and Ty Dolla Sign just to name a few.
It may not look like much today, but it was a lot of hard work, especially battling the internet the past few years which is slowly killing websites. One thing’s for sure, the platform and staple we put on the game will always be there and if you were really paying attention, you know.
Fun fact; we threw a festival in Tokyo with Tyga earlier this year too — yes, that really happened, Young Tokyo is a thing.
While Young California has been pushed to the back-burner and converted into a deserted counterfeit (you’ll get to hear the whole story soon) The Based Update now holds a focus on my biggest passion outside of everything else — film. You would think that music might be my biggest passion, but it’s not. On an average night I’m watching a new movie and I’m at the theater at least once a week. It’s not just popular movies either; it’s indie’s, old films, foreign language… anything I can get my eyes and ears on. I’m that guy that looks forward to Oscar nominations, news from Sundance, Cannes, pays attention to (the recently destroyed) Box Office Mojo, listens to podcasts, etc. I can never get enough of it.
Just like starting The Based Update, I needed to find a way to make people care about my opinion on movies. Instead of posting regular movie reviews, I decided to put a focus on home entertainment. With that, I started sharing my opinion on 4K & Blu-Ray releases through written reviews, anticipated releases, trailers, my thoughts on certain ‘hot topic’ issues surrounding memberships, clubs, etc. At first it wasn’t as popular with my readers, but it slowly started to catch on — not only has more traffic flowed to this site, but I am having more fun doing it! That is the first time that has happened in a very long time.
The awesome thing today is that companies like Warner Bro’s, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Sony, Disney and various agencies handling other studios are now sending me physical copies weeks ahead of their release to curate these reviews. This aspect is something that’s growing on the site, but I look forward to riding wherever the next wave takes me with this aspect as it develops — I’m really happy with where it is.
Fun fact; I had a referral link become so popular from one of my written reviews that the Disney Movie Club went out of their way to ban me from their site forever. True story. Read about it!
(Photo from 2012)As I sit here and look back at what I’ve created and accomplished, it’s all been a blessing, but the real question is: where do I go from here? The online, social media world is slowly becoming a headache because the internet is changing — everything is becoming obsolete. Outside of a few apps, no one cares too much about websites anymore unless you’re in a niche or creating original content — which another 45,749,051 other people are also trying to do.
If you don’t believe websites are dying, think about it like this: if a new album, music video, movie trailer or song comes out, do you go to a website to find it? Nope, you click the link from the individual’s Twitter account, swipe up on Instagram, open YouTube or Spotify. Why? Because it’s really simple and to the point — we all need to adapt to that as the next generation comes into play. Think about how you consume media, who you give your money to and where you shop online — these companies are continuing to grow by the minute and the more space they take up, the smaller the field around them becomes.
If you were to ask me, I think I’m supplying content for a niche, but adjusting to the culture will always be a constant thing moving forward.
Every now and then I get asked for advise on jumping into the online world. What would I say?
Everyone today is a designer, reviewer, social media guru, photographer or entrepreneur. Nobody cares if you do it too. You need to push hard and try to find a new angle to get people to care. Why would I listen or pay you for something when I have no idea who or what you are? Build on your passion, even if nobody is paying attention — take the time to perfect your craft. The more you build and adjust, the more you get better at whatever it is you are trying to do.
Beyond that, you need to create content on YouTube, play video games on Twitch and promote all of that on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Sure, you can have a website, but I would use it as a landing page or an online business card in the meantime. If your content really grows you can dip into using a website for more in-depth information on your brand including advertising opportunities, merchandise and beyond. (Get your domain and hold on to it just in case.)
Success doesn’t happen overnight — I’m still working towards what I want, I’m not there either.
(Photo taken today, November 22, 2019)While this entire write up may seem extremely positive, there were still a lot of negatives that tied into my journey too. There were plenty of months where I didn’t make a dollar or I was owed money, taken advantage of, even used — both from clients and people I thought were my friends. There were hundreds of bad days, dozens of bad weeks and plenty of bad months. I’ve spent countless hours trying to fix broken code on a website I created errors on, dealt with one of our websites being hacked, accidentally deleting work just to have to start all over again, trying to manage co-workers that were impatient and rude — plus a million other things that would randomly happen day after day. Nothing was ever easy.
Now that I think about it, there are still some people, even to this day, that have never given me the credit I deserve who constantly leave my name out like I wasn’t there. I’ve spent the better part of the last year trying to push negative energy away from situations that I used to be involved with, and it wasn’t until more recently that I felt like I got a handle on it. It sounds foolish, buy you just have to live with it and move on. Maybe I’ll get all the way there one day, I’m still working on it.
Bouncing off the negative bit, I just want to say thank you for all the continued support, whether you’re still with me from the MySpace days, The Based Update, Young California or if you’re brand new on the film side of things. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I guess we will see where this all goes as we head into the future.