Alternative Press is an American music magazine based in Cleveland, Ohio. It generally provides readers with band interviews, photos, information on upcoming releases, and music charts. It was founded in 1985 by Mike Shea, who is the current president.
Joe Scarpelli is the current general manager. Jason Pettigrew is editor in chief.
The first issue of Alternative Press was simply a photocopied punk rock fanzine, distributed at concerts in Cleveland, Ohio beginning in June 1985 by AP's founder, Mike Shea. He disliked the music that was then being broadcast on radio stations and believed that bands playing underground music should be given more media coverage "all in the same spot", he said.
The name for the magazine, Alternative Press, was not a reference to the alternative rock genre, but referred to the fanzine being an alternative to the local press that wasn't covering the music that Shea felt deserved to be heard. He said, "It has really always been about covering music for the misfits".
Shea began working on his first issue in his mother's house in Aurora, Ohio. Shea and a friend, Jimmy Kosicki, targeted the Cleveland neighborhood of Coventry. "I took my high school newspaper from Aurora High that looked nice and clean and offset print. I'd walk into these flower shops and Hallmark shops, and I'd say 'We're going to put out an entertainment publication, and it's going to be for kids and [the ad is] only $25.' And they'd look at my high school newspaper and say, 'It's really professional...' That's how we got enough money to make the first issue".
Financial problems plagued AP in its early years. Of the fledgling magazine's struggles in 1986, Shea said: "After the last few punk concerts we promoted that year failed to make any money to help finance the magazine, I had to start begging my mom for money to keep AP going: $1,500 here, $2,500 there. My mom was super-supportive of the whole endeavor, and she seemed to enjoy having a bunch of punkers over at all hours of the night putting together issues on her dining-room table and getting spray mount all over her nice tablecloths and on the carpeting, which resulted in our socks getting pulled off as we walked over it". However, by the end of 1986, publication had ceased due to its financial problems, not resuming until the spring of 1988.
With the growth of alternative rock in the early 1990s, circulation began to increase. AP's covers included bands such as Red Hot Chili Peppers and Soundgarden, prior to each band's mainstream success.
By 1994, the magazine was doing cover stories on Beastie Boys, Henry Rollins and Love and Rockets. Norman Wonderly, now the publisher, was credited by Shea as having "made most of these happen and the more Norman got what he wanted, the more artists wanted their cover shoots to look the way Norman wanted, and so on. It wasn’t always easy; there were some nasty phone calls exchanged between everyone, and there was always some publicist who wanted to give us one half-hour of shoot time so the artist could go shopping or some stupid thing. Did we sometimes protest too much? Maybe, but we were up against a lot; we were underfinanced and still underappreciated in some corners of the music business, so we had to fight scrappily and mean when it was called for. Nobody takes you seriously unless you take yourself seriously, and that's what Norman brings to his position to this day".
By the early 2000s, after resisting attempts to purchase the magazine, Shea shifted the focus of Alternative Press to the newer punk music associated with the Warped Tour. When asked the magazine's audience, Shea said, "It went from heartfelt emo, to screamo, to post-hardcore, to metalcore… but, there will always be a suburban kid full of angst. They will always want music".
At the time of its 20th anniversary in 2005, AP had grown to an average size of 112 pages per issue, later averaging between 198 and 220-plus pages a month.
The magazine's current monthly columns include "The AP Poll", "In the Studio", "AP&R" (unsigned bands of the month), "Chalkboard Confessional", "Musician of the Month", "My Favorite Gear", "Next Exit", "Gig Bag", "1000 Words", "Beauty and the Band" and "10 Essential."
AP sponsored a radio show aired on XM Radio, a podcast featuring in-depth discussions on various topics with people such as Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz and Kevin Lyman, and a compilation CD, and has been a major sponsor of tours including Warped Tour, Taste of Chaos and its own "The AP Tour."
AP introduced its own awards ceremony in 2014. The inaugural ceremony was attended by 6,000 people, with Fall Out Boy winning Artist of the Year; it featured live performances by Fall Out Boy, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, the Misfits, A Day to Remember, All Time Low, Asking Alexandria, Twenty One Pilots and Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco.
In 2015, the awards ceremony was moved to Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena. It featured hosts Alex Gaskarth and Jack Barakat of All Time Low and performances by Rob Zombie, New Found Glory with Hayley Williams of Paramore, Panic! at the Disco and headliners Weezer.
Due to the Republican National Convention, the 2016 APMAs were moved to Columbus' Value City Arena. The show included performances by Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford collaborating with Babymetal, Third Eye Blind with Mayday Parade and the Maine, Black Veil Brides frontman Andy Biersack with Mikey Way, John Feldmann and Quinn Allman, Machine Gun Kelly, Of Mice & Men, Papa Roach, Good Charlotte and headliners A Day to Remember.
The 2017 APMAs are set to take place in Cleveland on July 17, hosted by Biersack.