Work at his printing company led to a contract publishing the Coach House and Galaxy Concert Theater concert guides. By 1998, Brown had the idea of starting his own entertainment rag, which led to Live Magazine, a free publication that concentrates on live music reviews.
"It was just me for the first few issues, and the first one was horrible. I did the layout, the writing, the distribution and the ad sales. But it has gotten much better, and I've never missed a month. A lot of the writing has been from high school kids, and that was really important to me to provide a forum for them because a lot of publications would just tell them to fuck off and go learn how to write. I try to nurture them in their writing because obviously their English teachers weren't doing a very good job. And now some of them are decent writers, and this is what they want to do with their lives."
Live hardly makes a killing for Brown, he says—when it's not losing money, it barely breaks even.
"None of these things, including the Music Awards, are really profitable. I actually do rather menial type things to pay bills. I drive for a friend of mine and do deliveries when I run out of money. But I don't care; I have no pride. It would be nice, though, if the music things were my main income source. Depending on ticket sales, the awards will make a little money, plus we should be giving about $3,000 to Big Brothers and Sisters of Orange County. I really need it to be profitable; I want it to be a viable business so I can spend more time on it."
For now, though, putting on the OC Music Awards seems like a lot of work for not much in return. But Brown isn't whining about that—at least not this year, not yet. Instead, he'll tell you about the passion he has for music, about the thrill of discovering a favorite new local band that happens to be playing the Gypsy Lounge in a couple of nights, about the great OC music scene he feels people who live here still don't know about because they don't hear it on KROQ or see it on MTV. The OCMAs, in a way, are Brown's way of fostering possibilities.
"That's what it should be, celebrating our area and our music scene. But integrity is my bottommost important aspect. It's important that people believe in it and get excited about it and appreciate the point of it. And I think the show will demonstrate that based on the eclectic performances we have lined up. I want it to be something everyone looks forward to every year."
The 2003 Orange County Music Awards at the Grove of Anaheim, 2200 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 712-2700. Sat., 7 p.m. $22.50. For a list of nominees, go to www.orangecountymusicawards.com.