Monday, February 20, 2012

King Snow's Ryan Stutt Interview

In an industry where the average cost of participation monetarily is far more than I'd like to admit, any relative product that is offered to the public for free is welcomed with over burdened arms. When said product, the likes of which can not be found anywhere else, is of the highest quality, the industry as a whole tends to stop and take notice.
King Snow mag, along with it's sister magazine, skateboard counterpart King Shit, have been causing a stir with snowboarders and skateboarders alike,  for the last three years. Not only is the magazine informative, entertaining and extremely well written, but it approaches the whole idea of snowboarding with much needed more laid back approach then other magazines in the industry (Transworld, Snowboarder, SBC you know who you are).
With no hesitation to shine the light on the scatalogical aspects of snowboarding (as the name might suggest) that oh so often permeates the industry, King Snow talks about snowboarding the way the snowboarders I know talk about snowboarding. Not like a bunch of guys sitting around a conference table might talk about it, or my older sister might talk to her friends about it. King Snow consistently sees the lighter side of things, and with so much depressing and goofy stuff going on in snowboarding these days, this is undeniably refreshing in it's own right, and enough alone to make the mag a success.
What has impressed me the most about King Snow since I first started reading it a few years ago was that, unlike the overwhelming and never ending daily onslaught of snowboarding media that is available, King Snow goes the extra mile. As a media source, the content is well thought out and provocative, relative to what snowboarders want to read about and look at, and always features the established and up and coming riders that people want to see.
Although King Snow is Canadian in origin and features an abundance of Canadian content, it doesn't limit itself to Canucks and at the end of the day is a just a snowboarding magazine, a really good one. The fact that the people working behind the desks at King Snow are able to do this all and present it in a physical format that is of the highest quality and unmatched by anything I have seen, puts King Snow heads and shoulders above all other snowboard media offered today, free or not.
That was a lot of praise and ass kissing I know, but for anyone who has ever read the magazine they know it is all well deserved and warranted.
I recently sat down with King Snow's owner and editor Ryan Stutt to ask some the questions to which I haven't found answers to anywhere else.
TBOS: Can you give me a bit of history of King Snow. I know Dave Carnie is involved, is the magazine considered an offshoot of Big Brother?
Ryan: We started the skate mag King Shit first, back in 2009. I had gotten shit canned from SBC skateboards, and long story short a bunch of friends of mine in the industry why don't you start another mag? I had know Dave for a fair amount of time, just from the industry. He had written a hockey column for me over at SBC so we were just kind of pen pals or whatever. He had nothing going on and he was stoked on the idea, that it was a little more raw then what was out there, pretty boring and just kind of vanilla. Nothing really appealed to either one of us so we started the mag together and 6 or 8 months later we started King Snow. We started off with just two skate mags for the first year but it kind of made sense that okay if we do 2 skate mags we better do 2 snow mags just so everybody had something.
As far as the snow mag, I talked to a couple of friends of mine in the snow industry and got introduced to Crispin Cannon, so we created the snow mag with him as a sister magazine to King Shit.
TBOS: Ya it is for sure, it's awesome. I showed the magazine to one of my teachers at school and they were blown away by the quality of the magazine, especially considering it is a free offering. You are you guys able to make that work?
Ryan: Well it's kind of a dirty secret, but what a lot of publishers don't want people to know is that a lot of news stands are really dying, especially for niche publications. Corner store news stands are shrinking and a lot of these corner stores will take US magazines that come out more regularly then take Canadian magazines. So you really have to fight to get on news stands with magazines and then you have a distributor telling you what you can do and what you can't do, which is a big negative for me. But from a financial stand point, we print 20, 000 magazines and we give them out for free in snow and skate shops. Some of our competitors will print 30,000 magazines and give maybe 5,000 away at skate shops and put the rest on news stands . But what they don't tell anybody is that the sell to rate at best go to 30% for your average snowboard mag or niche publication so you're basically dumping 70% of the mags you print and they're just going in the trash, there's nothing you can do with them. So for me it was like I can either pay to print the same amount as my news stand competitors or I can just give it away for free and cut out the middle man and all we're doing is helping out the shops. It makes more sense then putting it on the news stands.
TBOS: I guess you're also going to get a way bigger readership that way too?
Ryan: Ya 100%. We're just entering our fourth year and we're basically the number 2 skateboard mag in Canada and climbing and there's only a few snowboard mags in Canada, but we're number 2. If I did put it on news stands I don't think I'd bother with both skate and snow
TBOS: You said that some of the motivation for starting your own mag was that most of what was out there already was pretty stale and vanilla. I'd have to agree and King Snow definitely goes in a different direction. Have you faced any negative criticism or feedback from readers or parents in regard to the exposure of drug and alcohol use in the mag?
Ryan: No, because 1, it's pretty prevalent on t.v. It's pretty prevalent fucking everywhere nowadays. It's not something we necessarily glorify. Most of the time when we're interviewing somebody and they're talking about smoking weed everyday or how they spent 20k on weed last year, we're generally making fun of them for being an idiot. Most of the stories we've run that have drugs in them, they're normally cautionary tales of bad choices.
You'd be surprised, especially in earlier days, I don't think we were consciously trying to push the envelope, we just honestly didn't think it would last more then a year or two. We ran some risque stuff and I was comfortable running it because it's true, we're being true to the culture, how things really are. We're fortunately in a position where we don't have to sugar coat anything for anybody. The only angry letter I got was from a Mom who was mad that Russ Borland, who was a guest art-director had drawn a little green creature that you couldn't really tell was male or female except it had boobs and it was licking one of it's own boobs. The Mother just got irate at that cartoon.
TBOS: That's hilarious that of everything that's been in the mag that's what bummed her out. The only thing I've heard is that I know a girl whose Mom who found the tranny issue of King Shit ( King Shit Mag Issue 3.1; available for online reading at lying around and freaked out about that.
Ryan: I lost sleep over the tranny issue just because even for us I thought that might be pushing it. There is a lot of homophobia in skateboarding.
TBOS: Really? I can't see the negatives involved with you guys publishing that?
Ryan: Ya, I mean it just depends on peoples personal beliefs. I've had photographers say they have to run photos with us under a pen name because they come from a religious family. I think for the most part though it's just the name of the mag that throws people off. By and large most of the content in King Snow or King Shit even is harmless. It's just got this reputation for being crazier then we actually are.
TBOS: Do you think the reputation the mag has also contributes to it's popularity though?
Ryan: Oh yeah absolutely. There was no way we would have been able to come into a crowded snowboard magazine market and make it if we were called something else, nobody would have cared. But if you start a magazine called King Shit people are going to notice and obviously that was part of our intent. Plus we just thought it was super funny to name a magazine King Shit.
TBOS: Do you picture King Snow being around for a while, is that in the plans?
Ryan: Yeah, against all logic. We're thriving and growing. The skate mag is bigger then it was last year, page count wise. Snow is looking to go the same way. We just added an extra issue of Snow and of Skate for 2012 so we'll be doing 5 skate and 4 snow.
TBOS: That's awesome, well I can't wait to see what you guys have in store. Thanks so much Ryan.
Ryan: No problem, thanks.

King Snow and King Shit are available at all legit skate stores across the country PEEP GAME!!

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