Alternative Press
"Most Anticipated Albums of 2007" issue featuring Motion City Soundtrack
Former editorsJason Pettigrew, Paige Owens
PublisherAlternative Press Magazine, Inc.
FounderMike Shea
Year founded1985
First issueJune 1985
CompanyAlternative Press
CountryUnited States
Based inCleveland
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Alternative Press is an American music magazine based in Cleveland, Ohio. It generally provides readers with band interviews, photos, news, information on upcoming releases, as well as lists on a variety of music subjects. It was founded in 1985[1] by Mike Shea, who is the president.[2][3]

Joe Scarpelli is the Director of Operations. Paige Owens is Editor-in-Chief.[2]


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.[4] "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".[5]

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.

Growth in the 1990s

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".


Current masthead
Current masthead

By the early 2000s, after resisting attempts to reform and design the so called "fanzine" Shea and Bobby Crist breathed new life into the publication and sought new revenues for its survival. Revamping the mag and marketing it in many venues. They 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".[6] 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.

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."

In the 2020s, both digital and print content shifted toward highlighting rising artists and introducing them to AP's audience. Cover stars include artists such as Waterparks, Rina Sawayama, Chase Atlantic, Willow Smith and more.

The most notable 2021 print issues include Issue 391 and Issue 392. Issue 391 of the print magazine was the 100 Artists of 2021 issue. The magazine featured "100 artists you need to know" in the year 2021. Issue 392 of the print magazine was The Power Issue: Women Rising, featuring a new generation of female musicians, like Maggie Lindemann, Siiickbrain, Meet Me @ The Altar and more.




The Alternative Press Music Awards

Main article: Alternative Press Music Awards

The Alternative Press Music Awards was an annual music awards show in the United States, founded by the music magazine Alternative Press.

The inaugural awards show in 2014 was hosted by Mark Hoppus, bassist and vocalist of the pop-punk band Blink-182.

In 2015, the hosts were Alex Gaskarth and Jack Barakat of All Time Low.

In 2016, the show was hosted by Andy Biersack of Black Veil Brides.


  1. ^ "Potential Markets". Freelance Writing. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Alternative Press: Contact". Retrieved September 20, 2011.
  3. ^ Scott Suttel (July 22, 2015). "Alternative Press founder Mike Shea reflects on 30 years of music journalism". Crain's Cleveland Business. Retrieved March 20, 2016.
  4. ^ Alternative Press, Issue #264. July 2010. pp. 82, 84.
  5. ^ "Alternative Press, Issue #264" (Interview). Interviewed by Mike Shea. July 2010. p. 84.
  6. ^ "Alternative Press Founder Mike Shea Says "Screw It" | The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum". Retrieved 2016-05-11.