Changing of the guard: it’s goodbye from Samantha Morris

When I launched the first Blank GC magazine in print, nearly five years ago to the day, I never for a moment thought about what the business might look like half a decade later, or the role I would be playing in its day-to-day management.

Look how far we’ve come

We printed 3,500 copies of that first magazine, and myself and co-owner Chloe Popa personally delivered it (with the help of some awesome friends) to a hundred or so outlets across the Gold Coast. We were very hands on. That launch magazine was the first design project Chloe had ever worked on since finishing her design course. We’d never written anything about music before, and we’d never considered things like social media, SEO, google docs and how intimate we’d become with those things over the next years. We’d certainly never published a magazine or dealt with publicists and record labels before. Hell, when Chloe took maternity leave in 2015 and we engaged a new designer they asked us how we flat planned. Until then, we’d never even heard of the term.

Since 2013, we’ve worked our arses off to keep Blank GC running and to ensure it’s not just a viable business, but an ethical and heart-filled one. That’s one of the reasons why we’ve attracted such a committed and passionate group of contributors – many of whom have been with us since that first magazine. We’re much more than a magazine. The impact we’ve had on the city’s cultural landscape is immeasurable.

Before I launched Blank GC, I was already running a busy consulting business (Wombat Creative Pty Ltd) with a niche market in conservation and regional sustainability but both that business and my own health suffered as a result of the relentless workload and lofty goals we set for Blank GC and its sister project Gold Coast Music Awards. I wouldn’t change anything about the past five years, but it is time to refocus my work on sustainability projects as well as a better work-life balance over coming years.

 

Big outcomes for local music

In five years I’ve personally written more than 1700 stories – just for Blank GC – about local artists and the Gold Coast creative scene. That’s one story for every weekday that Blank has been in existence. I’ve also given more than 200 songs by Gold Coast artists radio play on 91.7 ABC Gold Coast through the weekly ‘new music’ segment on the Drive program.

But of course, my role at Blank GC has gone much deeper than that. It’s been a constant rollercoaster ride of managing advertiser expectations, supporting the growing team of writers and photographers, finance and flat-plans and content plans and budgets, personally managing all social media and SEO, manually updating the gig guide, creating, running and growing the Gold Coast Music Awards and being a friend and comrade to plenty of people in the local creative scene. And none of that includes the ongoing job of advocating for better policy, more funding and strategic investment in the local music scene that’s happened simply because there was no-one else to do it.

One of the reasons I had to do all those things, was that Blank GC simply couldn’t afford to pay anyone else to do them. But the whole team has worked incredibly hard to make our business sustainable and efficient. And most of that work comes down to genuine partnerships and great content.

 

Extending the team

Enter Natalie O’Driscoll. Natalie has been a member of our team for more than four years. She started out as a voluntary contributor and over time has grown her involvement becoming our Cultural Editor about two years ago, not long after she had her first child. The juggle is real. Natalie first came on board because she wanted to write about the cultural experiences she was having as a temporary resident of the Gold Coast. She never thought she’d stay. But years on, she’s still discovering new food, art and cultural experiences across the city and doing an incredible job of telling those stories. She’s also been helping behind the scenes with social media, administration, systems and processes since she came on board. She’s a great friend, a fearless feminist, an exceptional writer and a passionate mentor to our team of writers (including me). She’s also a brilliant editor. Much better than I am. So, from 15 January, I am thrilled beyond words to be handing over the Managing Editor’s reins to Natalie.

I’ll be around until 30 June, writing the ‘new music’ column and taking the odd interview that the new Managing Editor throws my way as well as coordinating the 5th annual Gold Coast Music Awards.

So, it’s farewell from me and a big hearty welcome to our new Managing Editor Natalie O’Driscoll.

 

But wait, there’s more

That’s not the only change afoot. Come January, we’re welcoming another new addition to Blank. In the form of a brand new human. My co-founder Chloe Popa is having her third child and is taking some time to grow the bonds. So until 30 June, we’re welcoming back Kylie Cobb as our designer for Blank GC and publicist for Gold Coast Music Awards.

We’re also excited to extend the hours and responsibilities of our Partnerships and Admin Coordinator, Simone Gorman-Clark as well as our Senior Music Writer, Anthony Gebhardt. They join Partnerships Manager Amanda Gorman as our core Blank management team.

If you’re thinking, that sounds like a team of bad-ass women and men, you’d be right.

See you on the flipside and thank you for all your support.

Samantha Morris
Co-founder Blank Gold Coast
INSTA: @samanthamorriswrites

Header image from L to R: Amanda Gorma, Samantha Morris, Natalie O’Driscoll, Chloe Popa at 2018 Gold Coast Music Awards. Shots Fired. by James Wills.

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