Georgia Local Spotlight shines

Two music curators oversee a labor of love

Photo credit: Atlanta Spotlight Photography
HOMETOWN HEROES: DIY coverage for DIY artists

Atlanta’s DIY music scene is overflowing with innovative and progressive groups, each pouring their souls into their art and attempting to make a name for themselves through music. While these determined artists enjoy support from an enthusiastic local music community, many lack the proper channels necessary for broader promotion. Joe Warren, founder of Georgia Local Spotlight, noticed this void and decided to take action.

For Warren, who launched the local music news startup in 2017 as a Facebook page, Georgia Local Spotlight was a passion project. For months, he posted photos and videos of local acts before shows and releases in an attempt to give starving artists some free publicity. Although a well-intentioned gesture, the page remained under the radar and produced modest results.

“If nobody else is going to make them famous, I’m going to do it.” — Sarah-Anne Brown.
“If nobody else is going to make them famous, I’m going to do it.” — Sarah-Anne Brown.

However, Warren’s efforts did not go unnoticed. Local photographer and musician Sarah-Anne Brown admired Warren’s efforts but thought his project had more potential. “I asked him if I could take over because I had a lot of ideas,” says Brown. “So many phenomenal bands are not getting the coverage they deserve. If nobody else is going to make them famous, I’m going to do it.” Warren agreed to make Brown editor-in-chief of Georgia Local Spotlight and within the week, they put together a full website and a fleet of volunteer writers eager for material and change.

One year has passed since the founding of Georgia Local Spotlight, and it’s been a busy one for the niche grassroots news organization. Aside from regularly posting record reviews, show previews, and artist profiles, GLS debuted their Georgia Local Spotlight Presents series back in May. The goal of the series was to shine a proverbial spotlight on up-and-coming local artists by booking themed gigs at the Masquerade. The organization hopes to revive the project in 2019.

They also host a GLS First Listen series on their SoundCloud account, where artists are given a chance to premiere parts of upcoming releases before the project is made live. “We don’t care about your genre. If you’re from Georgia and you’re making cool shit then we wanna talk about it,” says Brown. “Being able to work with those artists and have them trust us to showcase what they’re doing has been a honor. That’s a lot of trust. I know that when you put so much work into a project, it becomes your baby.”

The year has not been without its struggles, which primarily arose from GLS’s dependence on an all-volunteer staff. Most of the writers have day jobs, go to school full time, or both. Writer/editor Daniel Graham was recently brought on board to help GLS deal with the increasing workload that accompanies success. All donations from Georgia Local Spotlight’s Patreon account go directly into a savings account, in hopes that the organization will eventually be able to support a staff and manufacture merch.

Despite these growing pains, the future is bright with hope for GLS, with plans for cross-platform projects like podcasting, YouTube channel, and other ventures. “We have so many things in the works,“ says Brown. “It’s gone from an act of love to something we hope to turn into a career. We are looking at five-year plans, getting incorporated with local businesses, anything we can do. We’ve got some plans, but I don’t wanna give away all our secrets.” -CL-

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