What Is Subculture? CEO Phillip Roffman Sets the Record Straight

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Ian Witlen
CEO Phillip Roffman repping Subculture at Record Store Day.

When you think of subculture, the first thing that probably comes to mind is some under-the-radar, fringe group of folks who seem to keep to themselves. Those involved probably make your mom a little nervous. But what happens when a group of locals whose passion for music and their community come together and insist that their beloved "subculture" go mainstream? South Florida native, CEO, and local scene starter Phillip Roffman and his team of talented movers and shakers are here to break through the ceiling of normalcy with Subculture.

Created roughly a year and a half ago, Roffman says, Subculture "was born out of the idea that local businesses, vendors, artists, et cetera -- both known and underground -- could come together for the purpose of putting together significant events." Leading up to the formation of Subculture, the company, Roffman attended various local and national music festivals, like Lollapalooza. "It's truly inspiring," he says, "to see hundreds of people come together for one band or one artist. I wanted to start something that could be a part of that." Thus, Subculture was born.

How could Subculture rival those big-name sponsors and backers of festivals? We've all seen them, the Red Bulls and Vans that throw big bucks at music events. "It's been misunderstood that festival events must have a [big-name] sponsor," Roffman says. "Subculture strives to keep events 'community grown.'" In this sense, Subculture uses us, the community, to support its vision in return for endorsement, promotion, and support. It managed this successfully by sponsoring Record Store Day at Radio-Active Records last month. 

"I wanted to start something that could be part of the Lollapaloozas," Roffman tells us, "while changing the traditional template for starting a festival or a music event." Instead of signing major labels, Subculture turns to local businesses and musicians to participate in the economic and sonic evolution of South Florida, stimulating community and individual economic growth. 

"We do this because we are largely invested and connected to the South Florida lifestyle," Roffman says of the alternative Subculture movement. "And as a young company, we are open and affected by its ever-evolving nature." 

By engaging locals in the process of planning and reaping the rewards of a community-fostered musical mecca -- think Austin, New York, or San Francisco -- he keeps things homegrown and not big business. Still, Roffman and his team aren't limiting themselves to the Fort Lauderdale area; in fact, they've recently started a West Coast chapter (as in California) of Subculture. "We hope to bring cultural arts and music festivals to the area," Roffman tells us. Our desire to dance and to see local businesses and musicians thrive makes us hope that the Subculture takeover starts soon.

Subculture's Sincerely Yours, Marty McFly takes place at 9 p.m. Saturday, July 14, at the Classic Gateway Theatre, 1820 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, which will screen The Breakfast Club and Back to the Future. Click here for full details. 


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