The Federal Trade Commission let a $39B pharmaceutical merger through without any scrutiny, and the Antitrust Division let Michael Milken roll up the salt market. Where's the change?
Matt, you might consider taking the opposite approach. Weekly newsletter is about all I can manage to read, so I wouldn’t pay for the extra articles. The newsletter is your core offering and absolutely worth paying for. Use “extra” articles to pique interest in and link back to the newsletter. You can also make your “short take” pieces a combination of free and paid. As frustrating as it might be to hit a paywall when clicking through to certain short takes, I think it incentivizes people to pay. Use the free “extra” articles to build the movement - in fact they could be explicit about that and offer ways for readers to get involved and do something. Your work merits compensation, whether or not it’s invested back into the project. Thanks for your incredibly important work !!!
Hi Matt, I’m not one to post but your question sparked a fire that’s been kindling for some time about subscription models. I’ve learned a lot from your newsletters and think subscriptions are a good source of financial support for writers. As you know, “paywall” won’t reach the broadest possible audience. Personally I’m already feeling a subscription/paywall fatigue (it adds up).
There’s also a clubby/cliquey effect happening, I’ve noticed, with certain substack writers who create subscription models that include chat and message board type conversations — it’s like the flip of access journalism, but a privatization of the public intellectual and conversations that could mobilize, in your case, a working and middle class who need to understand how and why monopolies hurt then and how to push for change. I’ve been thinking about a group of substack writers who are organizing a paywalled/subscription-based discord model that sounds more like they’re replicating a mini-media company, and this tiered access to information and the writers makes me uneasy. Reminds me of how AirBnB started with a few friends got together to offer air mattress alternatives to hotels and basically ended up accumulating enough capital to create their own hotel-type empire with fees and pricing and experiences that don’t look that different from the world they were trying to disrupt.
And now that Apple, Spotify, even NPR are looking to pay wall and/or tier access to podcasts, I’m thinking about how we’re going to enforce class in the information sphere and create an even more disempowered, fractured society. There are limits to how much someone on a money/time/attention budget can pay for good education and information. $5/month, $60/year for one high quality newsletter adds up when you factor in all the other subscriptions a person likely already has.
There has to be another model for writers to keep writing and pay the bills, something that doesn’t put any valuable discussion and knowledge behind paywalls for only those who can afford it. Maybe a model that has a timed release, where you open up your paywalled content to the public after 30? 60? days? The first in line and need-to-know-now readers who can afford it will pay. The rest experience a delay BUT they get to eventually benefit from your insights.
I’m increasingly convinced that keeping any information forever behind a paywall will maintain class dis/advantages. Entertainment content is a different story, in that it doesn’t really matter to how we live in an economy or society if we can’t all access the latest superhero or Academy award winning film. But your ideas and the movement you’re part of building deserve the widest possible audience. I really believe that. Your newsletters shed light on aspects of money, society, and politics that make it possible to upend received wisdoms and stereotypes.
Like this recent newsletter, highlighting the EU. It’s easy for Europeans to dunk on American culture and politics as corrupt. Now that I’m in Germany, I hear that a lot. This outsider has been educating them, and forwarding your newsletter to people who of all socioeconomic classes, and people who likely wouldn’t read it wee it behind a paywall because they think this information doesn’t apply to them. But it applies to everyone in the so-called western world.
Good luck figuring out your subscription model.
I'd be happy to pay for this — even if the payment is just to support you and the content is free for those who don't. It's important work and you deserve to be paid for it.
What about a Patreon-like model, where paying subscribers receive the newsletter a week early? That avoids the paywall issue and provides a tangible benefit to subscribers that isn't too lopsided (IMO).
I'd venture a guess that most of your potential subscribers would also be at least somewhat motivated by wanting to end monopolies. So paywalling articles would be the opposite of what they want.
A good model for you might be this substack on climate change: https://heated.world
Most posts are free with a bonus lower key thing for subscribers every so often.
I would donate to keep all content free. Like democracy now/the real news/the analysis.news.
I also wanted to add: I think your work is invaluable and hope it reaches a wider audience.
It seems to be the way no few substack newsletters are going (and may not work for you), but you could keep your primary newsletter free and hire a compelling writer, perhaps a young lawyer in the FTC or an academic, whose writings would be for paying subscribers. The dialogue between your perspective and theirs could be valuable in a Hegelian dialectic expanding kind of a way.
I’m thinking a Patreon subscription with tier levels would be good. Katie Halper does a good a good job with free content for non-subscribers and tier levels for patrons.
You may want to consider supplementing this blog by launching YouTube channel + Patreon to monetize your efforts. Of course, given the subject matter, finding paying advertisers might not be trivial.
Hi, thanks so much for your responsible and eye-opening reporting.
I've noticed this past year on Amazon that there is an increasing number of seemingly poor quality brands, with bad photos or only a single view, no dimensions or materials listed, with prices all over the map for what appears to be the very same item. It's as if Amazon isn't screening products anymore, and it's hard to shop. Just when you think you've located what you need, the same image of it pops up with a different price. Could this be part of the monopoly problem?
You could do like The Guardian, just put an ask for donations at the end of each article. They have found that to be very lucrative and no paywall.
I would definitely support you in whatever you decide because your work is important. I’ve donated to the non-profit you are associated with because of you. As for frequency, I think your engagement is adequate now and too much would be overwhelming.
Amen. Seminate this as an example. $ vs. Probability of subscription...