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July 2016

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Changes to the Hot Pod Membership

Written by , Posted in Hot Pod Weekly

Hey folks!

In Tuesday’s newsletter, I mentioned that I’m changing the Hot Pod membership. I’ll lay out my reasoning in a bit, but for now, please note that you can now become a Hot Pod member at three donation levels:


— You’ll get extra emails, access to the forums, and some stuff to come —


— You’ll get extra emails, and access to the forums —


— You’ll just get the extra emails —

If you prefer to donate annually, you can do so at $60/year and $84/year.

The extra emails, currently called Hot Pod Pro, will be renamed to reflect the new membership program. It will also now only come out on Saturdays, and will eventually adopt a different structure — I’m hoping to experiment with different kinds of writing, and the new mailing will reflect that.


So, why the change?

I read somewhere that businesses should be structured in a way that best aligns with the value they are trying to create. Which raised to me, quite acutely, a broader question that has long haunted my enterprise: what, exactly, is the value I’m trying to create?

At the end of the day, I believe I’m trying to do two things:

(1) To make sense of the emerging on-demand audio (née podcast) ecosystem by examining the ideas, structures, cultures, and actors that make up that ecosystem — and by writing about it in a way that embraces complexity, uncertainty, and depth.

(2) To build a space of learning, knowledge, and information that’s equally accessible by both veterans and newcomers, executives and producers, independents and the institutionally supported, die-hard enthusiasts and tourists, and so on.

Internalizing those two things, it’s clear I’ve been doing this the wrong way.

When I first launched the membership, I opted for a “premium paywall” model similar toStratechery and the Timmerman Report. And while that choice has resulted in a business that modestly pays for itself, it also led me to a situation where I sharply divided the way I thought about the greater Hot Pod readership and how I wrote for each segment — thus violating (2).

My work suffered as a result, particularly as I struggled over what to keep from the broader readership in favor of the paywall. That struggle, in turn, initially led me to dilute myTuesday newsletters, which I subsequently over-corrected by becoming increasingly reticent to put anything behind the paywall. It was dumb, and in retrospect, I should’ve caught what was happening earlier: I was being straightjacketed by a model I’ve imposed upon this business that simply was the wrong fit, and in the end I was left with a business that insisted on a single price point without much reason to do so.

So I’m now shifting the membership program to embrace a more donor and supporter-driven sensibility, one that’s more similar to what you see in public media and independent creative enterprises on the internet, like webcomics.

If you appreciate Hot Pod, you should be able to donate in a way that makes sense to you. If you have the means to give more, give more. If you don’t have the means, give less. If you have the means to give more but feel like, eh, maybe Hot Pod isn’t worth $7 a month — because of the typos and whatnot — sure, $3 a month is cool too.

All I ask is that if Hot Pod gives you value in some way, please consider becoming a member. Support the work you want to see in the world.


Once again, you can now become a Hot Pod member at three different donation levels:

      

And if you’re an existing Hot Pod member, I hope you’ll stay on as a $7 a month donor, but if you feel like you need to move down a tier, I completely understand. Just email me, and I’ll switch it for you.

I realize I’m running the risk of shaking up my current sustainability. But I think this works better, and I have faith that this will lead to a more sustainable Hot Pod in the long run.

Anyway, thanks so much for being readers. See you soon.