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Record Plug Magazine shines spotlight on underground bands in ATL and Athens

Record Plug's Kip Thomas and Ryan Williams performing with their band, Victory Hands, in Athens, Ga. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Williams.)

By Hannah E. Jones

The magazine comes out once a month. (Photo courtesy of Record Plug Magazine.)

In a digital age, Record Plug Magazine is keeping it old school. A local publication for underground bands in Atlanta and Athens, they cover the live music scene in both cities — like heavy rock, punk, metal and hip hop shows. And it’s offered exclusively in print.

The magazine is founded and owned by Atlantans Kip Thomas and Ryan Williams. Thomas has been a printing company owner for nearly three decades and prints the music magazine himself. Williams has been a record producer for about 30 years and runs the record label Headphone Treats under the name Jimmy Ether.

The duo are also in two bands together — Loud Humans and Victory Hands. Thomas is a drummer and Williams mostly covers guitar and vocals. Actively involved in Atlanta’s music scene, the two noticed a decline in local coverage a few years ago of bands and shows around the city.

(L to R) Ryan Williams and Kip Thomas. (Photos courtesy of Ryan Williams.)

“I was in a music store picking up some drumsticks in April of ‘21, and I saw that the February Stomp And Stammer was on the counter,” Thomas said. Discovering that the publication had closed its doors, he was inspired to start Record Plug. “Atlanta, specifically, was not going to have any local, free publication that was going to promote underground music and try to give press to the little guy.”

Wanting to give some airtime to Atlanta’s grassroots music scene, they published their first monthly issue of Record Plug in August 2021. Free copies can be picked up at many local establishments and folks can also sign up for a subscription. 

“In Atlanta, with the pandemic, everyone assumed that the music scene would be dying off and as we were starting up, [we realized] there’s nothing but bands everywhere,” Williams said. “It’s almost too much to cover, it’s so vibrant. I think that’s true of Athens too.”

As longtime artists, Williams and Thomas can relate to the sometimes thankless experiences of live performers. In turn, they use Record Plug as a way to give local bands some press.

“Most people in the underground scene are playing music for the love of the music. They’re used to playing small venues, house shows, low-attendance shows and they’re going to keep plugging away,” Thomas said. “At the same time, when you put in a lot of effort — you spend many hours practicing, hauling your equipment around and performing — It’s also nice to have recognition.”

A snapshot of the production process. (Photo courtesy of Kip Thomas.)

Record Plug’s print exclusivity is a cornerstone of the publication. Once the copy edits and layout are finalized, Thomas makes physical printing plates. “This is not digitally printed; It’s offset printed,” he added. “Old school — with a real press and real ink.”

It takes two days to print and bind the issue each month. From there, the roughly 5,000 monthly copies are distributed around Atlanta and Athens. Offering the publication in print only gives the magazine a niche, communal feel and builds anticipation for the next edition.

But this doesn’t come without its roadblocks. The team chose a French newsprint paper that’s 100 percent recycled and made entirely with hydroelectricity but it was discontinued less than a year later. To keep access, Thomas and Williams had to commit to buying 10,000 pounds of the paper. That’s a big undertaking for a grassroots magazine, but they are also now the only publication printed using that specific material.

Although editions aren’t reproduced online, Record Plug does have a small online presence. Williams started a social network on Mastodon for musicians, fans and journalists to post about local concerts, their projects and general music updates. They also create a monthly Spotify playlist that corresponds with the bands featured in each issue.

The team is discussing putting some of their content online in the future but, for now, Record Plug will stay exclusively in print. If you’re interested in picking up their latest issue, click here for a list of locations. 

Hannah E. Jones

Hannah Jones is an Atlanta native and Georgia State University graduate, with a major in journalism and minor in public policy. She began studying journalism in high school and has since served as a reporter and editor for two newspapers. Hannah managed the Arts and Living section of The Signal, Georgia State’s independent award-winning newspaper. She has a passion for environmental issues, urban life and telling a good story. Hannah can be reached at hannah@saportareport.com.


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  1. Noel in Atlanta March 17, 2023 5:13 pm

    Excellent article! I read the Record Plug and enjoy it, but didn’t know the backstory – thanks.Report


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