It’s the start of the quarantine when Jessica Golich and I connect by phone. “You can go outside and roll a bowling ball down the street and no one will notice.” And rightfully so. “Now is the time to be mindful, to sacrifice and to stay home.” From the current quietness of downtown Detroit, Jessica shares her story of becoming a photojournalist and her entrepreneurial journey toward building her company Life Beyond The Music.
How did you develop an initial interest in photography?
Jessica Golich: It started organically through journalism. I had no journalism background whatsoever when I answered a Craigslist ad listing for a major publication. The ask was to cover different musicians throughout the state of Michigan. I put a pitch together and we worked out a deal. Then, it turned into interviewing musicians globally. At shows, I was always the journalist in the back taking notes, but I realized it was time to expand my creativity, so I picked up a camera and learned how to shoot.
What was your first show?
Jessica Golich: My first show shooting professionally was Coheed and Cambria in June of 2018.
So wait, when did you answer the Craigslist ad?
Jessica Golich: January 2016. So I’d spent about two and half years interviewing major musicians, really digging deeper and focusing on who they are as humans. I was building a rapport with all of these publicists and realized [after two and half-years] it was time for me to take the entrepreneurial road. I launched the independent publication “Life Beyond The Music” and used my existing relationships to continue covering shows and create more opportunity for myself.
So essentially, you were operating under the banner of a larger publication, realized, “Hey, I can do this for myself,” and made moves.
Jessica Golich: It organically reached that transitional point where I had to ask myself, “Okay, you have the backend skills to build a website, you know how to register a website, you have the connections, now what are you going to do?” I took three months away to build the website, and within those three months took a deep dive into my network to see how many different relationships I could maximize by simply keeping in touch. By being a human being with everyone. That’s what’s allowed me to create more room as an independent publication.
Are these deeper connections and conversations with artists the lane you’re positioning your own publication to be in?
Jessica Golich: Totally. That’s entirely the mission. It’s all that I’m allowing this concept to be. Really asking musicians about the last meal they cooked, or what their favorite strain [of cannabis] is, or what was the last album they listened to—that wasn’t theirs—that provided inspiration. Checking in on how their mental health state is. [My format] allows them to get out of the typical “press tour” they’re usually on and dive back into themselves.
How did the intersection of journalism, photography and cannabis come about?
Jessica Golich: It took some time, but that came about through Instagram. I realized I wasn’t showcasing my day-to-day life as much as I could.
I live an introverted yet intriguing day-to-day life that provides a lot of creativity, which also reflects cannabis and responsible use. Showcasing [my day-to-day life] on Instagram and TikTok really allowed me to create deeper relationships with different brands, who gave me access to their products and their merch in return for content. From there, I realized right now, in 2020, being an influencer is a really positive thing and it’s what you make of it. Yeah, there are a lot of people who have a lot of comments [about being an influencer], but I think if you dive deeper and see how you can interlace all the different arcs into one, you’ll create a beautiful community that will really thrive and heal.
How does the community you’re cultivating have the potential to heal?
Jessica Golich: I showcase ways to use different [cannabis] strains in a more therapeutic way. Not only for the body buzz, but for your mental health and your emotional realm. I think that a lot of our emotions and sensories are ignited through cannabis use, and a lot of people aren’t necessarily as educated about that [type of use].
So you worked out deals with cannabis companies, trading products for content, and then that organically spiraled into the uniqueness of the brand you’re building.
Jessica Golich: Totally. When I first launched Life Beyond the Music, I had zero thoughts in my mind of correlating it with different cannabis brands, sponsorships and everything else that comes with the territory. As I continued to grow and realized how much the two coalesced, something came alive. Realizing in Michigan, in particular, how [cannabis] is legal here…there were five recreational marijuana shops that opened in December and the revenue they got in eight days was 1.6 million dollars. Thinking like an entrepreneur led me to expand my breadth of thought and how I could merge everything together.
Was merging the two worlds how you became involved in the legalization movement?
Jessica Golich: I wouldn’t say that’s something I was involved with, I’d say it’s something I’m more so educating myself on. I haven’t particularly dipped my hands or feet into the legal aspects, but I do use my platform to showcase—to the community I’ve built—all the different avenues they can take with cannabis.
How did the opportunity with TikTok come about?
Jessica Golich: I was completely blindsided by it. Back in January of 2019, right after I launched Life Beyond The Music, I got an email from a third party who was focusing on TikTok content creators and asking if I wanted to join the platform. I had no idea what TikTok was at the time, but I did a little bit of research and realized it was a good time to start. No one was really on the network. I figured, let’s see how I can play with the algorithm and see what content I could create to push myself forward.
Within eight months, my account was steadily rising. A lot of my videos have up to one million views, and overall I’ve had over 25 million views. And that to me is crazy in a year and a half.
Are you still working with the third party company or is everything now under the banner of Life Beyond The Music?
Jessica Golich: Everything is under my banner now. At first, things were with [the third party] for a good eight months, but now I’ve taken it extremely independent and I’m utilizing social media platforms to brand out different deals with different cannabis brands.
What’s on the horizon for you?
Jessica Golich: As I continue to grow, in particular on Instagram, it’s my ultimate desire to collaborate with a Detroit cannabis brand and launch a product line. I want to be involved with everything from developing, branding, marketing, etc. Right now, I’m really into developing strong relationships with some [Detroit cannabis brands] in the hopes of presenting something to them in the near future.
Follow @jessicaxgolich and check out https://lifebeyondthemusic.com/ for photos and editorials.