This November, 2019 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 and visit daily and not have it ‘look and feel’ like a copy and 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 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 the site. That feature grew into not only reviewing dozens of streetwear companies, but even reviewing electronics. 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. I still don’t understand how that all happened. These companies didn’t pay me, but the fact that I was getting free stuff in the mail was awesome — it still is.
If you’re too young to remember MySpace, that platform gave you full control of your page, HTML wise. With trial and error in that field I learned how to add graphics, videos, change the colors and various other ways to manipulate the page. That trial and error gave me enough knowledge to build out and customize websites. What else did HTML do? It pushed me towards teaching myself Photoshop because I wanted my graphics to look a certain way on my pages and website.
As you can already guess, this lead me to the world of graphic design.
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, YG, Ty Dolla Sign and dozens of similar artists. It was always amazing to me that I was getting paid to do this. To this day 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. It could be a pretty cool thing to tell the grandchildren one day, even if nothing else ever comes from it.
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… yikes.
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.
Building my own website and creating my own buzz enabled me to meet some of the pillars of the West Coast. After meeting and collaborating we came together to form a super team of DJ’s called Young California. I was the only member that wasn’t a DJ, but my role was bringing the brand online and turning the idea into a platform — aka 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.
Fast forward to today and this platform has been in use for over 7 years since we launched it, and as we speak, there have been over 2 million unique visitors to the site, over 100 million hits, over 10 million plays on Soundcloud, an organic following on Twitter with millions of impressions every month, over 50,000 followers on Instagram, verification — the works.
We have 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’s been a lot of hard work and even though the internet is killing the website side of things — the platform and our staple on the game will always be there. As a side note, we recently threw a festival in Tokyo with Tyga too — yes, that really happened, Young Tokyo is a thing.
Today, I not only watch over West Coast music through the Young California website, but now The Based Update focuses 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 even that guy that looks forward to Oscar nominations, news from Sundance, Cannes, etc. I pay attention to almost anything film related on a daily basis.
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 — I even had a referral link so popular that the Disney Movie Club banned me from their site. True story.
The awesome thing is that various companies like Warner Bro’s, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Sony and 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 as we speak, so I look forward to riding wherever the next wave takes me. Hopefully I can work in the film industry some day.
Now that 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.
What would be my advise for people wanting to jump in? 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. 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.
If you don’t believe websites are dying, think about it like this: if a new album, 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 — so you’ll need to adapt to that. This goes beyond the few that I’ve mentioned, 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.
Anyways… 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 are still some people today that have never given me the credit I deserve (and owe me money), constantly leaving my name out like I wasn’t there. You just have to live with it and move on.
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. Will it be good? bad? We’ll see.
“Every child is an artist. The problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” -Pablo Picaso.