Music

Environmental noise for the multi-tasker

By Steve Lukather

Steve Lukather has some comments on the state of the recording business today. Steve was a founding member of Toto, has released solo LP’s and is one of the most successful studio guitarists in history. He has been involved in thousands of records (if a Michael Jackson song has a guitar on it, it’s Steve). Here is what he wrote.

“I just want to know something. ALL this pontificating about how Spotify and the like are the ’ answer ’ and how ’ the artists get paid’ etc. How much? Really? WHO keeps tabs and accounting? Maybe I just don’t know. I don’t see any money and have A LOT of stuff out there over 35 years of making records.

Have you done the breakdown on what an artist get PER tune on iTunes? Pitiful. Now IF you are with a label its even worse cause they take a huge share of that. The breakdown after all is said and done for most it’s pennies.

TOO many people can make records. Period. No catalog artists are made these days. One hit wonders galore. Sad really.

Now record companies don’t give budgets like the old days when the great records were made cause they cost MONEY!! They want to make money for nothing and own you for life and a piece of EVERYTHING an artist does. You can sell a million and still OWE them! My 25 year old son has buddies who have platinum records living in a one room studio apartment…Broke.

Of course back ‘then’ record companies cared about MUSIC and nurturing artists for a LONG term career and long term money.
Sure they got the Lions share but then they invested, believed and promoted it so there was SOME justification.

Now its ’Beats’ and how many facebook hits or Youtube hits you get .. ALL which either make NO money or short term dog-shit money with no real way to account for it and truly suck for the most part.

What the fuck ? People want to be famous NOT good! It is TOO easy to play ‘pretend pop star’ now. With all the fakery and auto tune-time correction -cut and paste etc.. fuck most young people don’t know how to play a song from top to bottom in a studio in tune and in time and with feeling?? Rare.

I am in the studios all the time and hear the stories from the producers and engineers.. and yet NO ONE cares that ’ so and so’ who sold a shit load of records ( how much IS that these days? ) cant sing or play. They make ‘McRecords’ for people who don’t even really listen. It’s background music for people to either find a mate or shake their heads while texting or skyping or doing other things. Environmental noise for the multi-tasker.

Gone are the days of loving , dissecting, discussing the inner workings of ’AN ALBUM”… sitting in silence while it plays.. looking at the liner notes and the few photo’s IN the studio .. imagining what a magic place it music be to make such music…Gone. You need a fucking jewelers eye to read the credits IF one even cares. Most don’t. So if you keep blaming the ‘old antiquated artists’ who are the only REAL ones left.. who MAY make a great record once in awhile but may be overlooked cause the media chooses to care more about who is super gluing meat to their bodies and other ridiculous HYPE and bullshit to get attention rather than LISTENING hard to the music being made we might be in a different place.

When we were kids ( yes I will be 108 this year) there were only a handful or artists and they WERE great cause they HAD to be.
You could choose not to like some but outside the teenage fodder most deserved their success and NO ONE sounded alike! No one!
We live in a McWorld that moves way too fast and now even the drugs suck. I mean when I was young and got high I never got naked foaming at the mouth and tried to eat someone’s face off.

Time to put on Dark Side of the Moon and chill. Have a nice day and may real music come back and fill our ears. ( there IS some great stuff but you know what I mean ..)
REAL music played by REAL musicians. They ARE out there.
They just don’t get a lot of press anymore, or at all.”

Cool Leaders

7 Reasons Every iPhone User Should Be Worried About the App Store’s 30% Tax

By Pavel Durov

I hope you all liked the latest Telegram update – our 8th major update this year. This new version of Telegram could have become available to you several days earlier. But it didn’t, because of Apple’s desire to control every mobile app in the world. Few iPhone users realise how the policies of Apple make their lives worse. That’s why I decided to write the post below.

In the last few months, many prominent app developers voiced their disapproval of the App Store policies Apple imposes on all apps. Why should that concern you if you own an iPhone? Here are 7 reasons.

HIGHER PRICES. Apple’s 30% commission makes all apps and digital goods more expensive for you. It goes on top of the price you pay to developers for any services and games you buy on your phone. You pay more for every app, even though Apple already charged you a few hundred dollars more for your iPhone than it cost to make. In short, you keep paying even after you have paid.

CENSORSHIP. Some content in apps like Telegram is unavailable to you because Apple censors what is allowed on the App Store, which it fully controls to enforce the 30% tax. Apple even restricts us – app developers – from telling our users that certain content was hidden for iPhone users specifically at their request. Apple should realize how ridiculous their attempt to globally censor content looks: imagine a web browser deciding which websites you are allowed to view.

LACK OF PRIVACY. In order to install an app from the App Store, you must first create an Apple account and log in using it. After that, every single app you download and every push notification you receive is tied to your account, making you an easier target to track. Since the main reason you have to use an Apple account to download an iPhone app is Apple’s desire to enforce their 30% commission, the cost of their greed also includes your private data.

DELAYS IN APP UPDATES. You get new versions of your apps several days or weeks after they are actually ready, because Apple’s review team is notoriously inefficient and often delays approval for no apparent reason. You would think Apple could use the billions of dollars it receives from third-party apps to hire additional moderators. Somehow they are unable to do even that, and us – big apps like Telegram – typically have to wait several days or even weeks to publish updates.

FEWER APPS. Apple’s 30% commission on apps goes on top of all the other expenses developers must pay for: government taxes such as VAT (~20%), wages, research, servers, marketing. Many apps would have been net profitable in a world without Apple’s 30% commission, but being forced to surrender 30% of their revenue to Apple makes them unsustainable. As a result, many of them go bankrupt and lots of great apps you could have enjoyed just don’t exist.

MORE ADS IN APPS. Because Apple makes selling premium services and accepting donations one-third less meaningful for developers, many of them are forced to show ads in their apps in order for their companies to survive. Apple’s policies skew the entire industry towards selling user data instead of letting them adopt more privacy-friendly business models like selling additional services to their users.

WORSE APPS. Billions of dollars are taken from developers who could have otherwise spent those funds on improving the quality of the apps you use every day. Instead, this money rests idly in Apple’s offshore bank accounts and does nothing for the world, while app developers struggle to find resources for the research and development the world needs.

The situation is so bad that one would expect Apple’s 30% cut to be unsustainable. Yet it’s been around for more than 10 years and is still there. In my Telegraph post here, I’m explaining how Apple has been able to trick consumers and regulators into inaction for so long.

History

Americans of all races and classes coming together to fight against racism

By Robert Redford

“I have a lot of vivid memories of growing up in Los Angeles in the 1940s, but one in particular keeps coming back to me today, in these troubled times. I remember sitting with my parents — actually, my parents were sitting; I was lying on the floor, the way kids do — and listening to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt talking to us over the radio. He was talking to the nation, of course, not just to us, but it sure felt that way. He was personal and informal, like he was right there in our living room.

I was too young to follow much of what he was saying — something about World War II. But what I did understand was that this was a man who cared about our well-being. I felt calmed by his voice. It was a voice of authority and, at the same time, empathy. Americans were facing a common enemy — fascism — and FDR gave us the sense that we were all in it together. Even kids like me had a role to play: participating in paper drives, collecting scrap metal, doing whatever we could do. That’s what it was like to have a president with a strong moral compass. It guided him, gave him direction, and helped him point the nation toward a better future.
Maybe this strikes you as simple nostalgia. I’ve got a touch of that, sure (who doesn’t right now?). But I’m too focused on the future to sit around pining for the old days. For me, the power of FDR’s example is what it says about the kind of leadership America needs — and can have again, if we choose it.

But one thing is clear: Instead of a moral compass in the Oval Office, there’s a moral vacuum. Instead of a president who says we’re all in it together, we have a president who’s in it for himself. Instead of words that uplift and unite, we hear words that inflame and divide. When someone retweets (and then deletes) a video of a supporter shouting “white power” or calls journalists “enemies of the state,” when he turns a lifesaving mask against contagion into a weapon in a culture war, when he orders the police and the military to tear gas peaceful protestors so he can wave a Bible at the cameras, he sacrifices — again and again — any claim to moral authority.

Another four years of this would degrade our country beyond repair. The toll it’s taking is almost biblical: fires and floods, a literal plague upon the land, an eruption of hatred that’s being summoned and harnessed, by a leader with no conscience or shame. Four more years would accelerate our slide toward autocracy. It would be taken as free license to punish more so-called “traitors” and wage more petty vendettas — with the full weight of the Justice Department behind them. Four more years would mean open season on our environmental laws. The assault has been ongoing — it started with abandoning the historic agreement that the world made in Paris to combat climate change, and continued, just last month, with using the pandemic as cover to let industries pollute as they see fit. Four more years would bring untold damage to our planet — our home.

America is still a world power. But in the past four years, it has lost its place as a world leader. A second term would embolden enemies and further weaken our standing with our friends.

When and how did the United States of America become the Divided States of America? Polarization, of course, has deep roots and many sources. President Donald Trump didn’t create all of our divisions as Americans. But he has found every fault line in America and wrenched them wide open.

Without a moral compass in the Oval Office, our country is dangerously adrift. But this November, we can choose another direction. This November, unity and empathy are on the ballot. Experience and intelligence are on the ballot. Joe Biden is on the ballot, and I’m confident he will bring these qualities back to White House.

I don’t make a practice of publicly announcing my vote. But this election year is different. And I believe Biden was made for this moment. Biden leads with his heart. I don’t mean that in a soft and sentimental way. I’m talking about a fierce compassion — the kind that fuels him, that drives him to fight against racial and economic injustice, that won’t let him rest while people are struggling.

As FDR showed, empathy and ethics are not signs of weakness. They’re signs of strength. I think Americans are coming back to that view. Despite Trump — despite his daily efforts to divide us — I see much of the country beginning to reunite again, the way it did when I was a kid. You can see it in the peaceful protests of the past several weeks — Americans of all races and classes coming together to fight against racism. You can see it the ways that communities are pulling together in the face of this pandemic, even if the White House has left them to fend for themselves.

These acts of compassion and kindness make our country stronger. This November, we have a chance to make it stronger still — by choosing a president who is consistent with our values, and whose moral compass points toward justice.”

Cool Leaders

Unleash talent

By Steen Albrechtlund

A short tale of medieval virtue ethics or why the Beau Geste doctrine is ever so slightly exhausting.

Platons most important scolar, Aristoteles, study of character and ethics, is built around the premise that people should achieve an excellent character as a pre-condition for attaining happiness or well-being.

Aristoteles works has since been refined and further developed by numerous thinkers such as Aegidius Romanus and Erasmus of Rotterdam in the late medieval. The basic thought is that an individual at all time must strive for a higher level of sense and insights to become closer to a divine state. Romanus was advocating for a constant chase to achieve perfection.

The leadership literature today has a direct line straight back to Aristoteles, Romanus and Erasmus thoughts around impeccable morale and ethics. The likes of Covey, Horsley, Ole Fogh Kirkeby and Einer Aadlan are among the dominant preachers of modern virtue ethics in management. And their releases are sold in millions and millions of copies.

Both Aadland and Kirkeby recommends that leaders enter into a lifelong training camp and perform an askesis to become virtous, insightful, prudent, diligent and all round ethical lighthouses where their influence is imminent in every tiny corner of the organization like the eye of Sauron. This is the perfect human being propelled into commercial divinity. The perfect Beau Geste baby of the reformed Dr. Mengele.

First problem is that this is utterly unachievable. When you constantly search for perfection, you essentially end up searching for yourself in a constant loop where you will only find flaws and one day you will realize that it’s the same good old John Doe with Caitlyn Jenners make up. After you spend a fortune on books, seminars, boot camps to strive for leadership nirvana. What is the result of this extreme sport for perfectionists? Disillusion, resignation and burn out.

Second problem is bigger as seen from the perspective of an organization. You become intolerable for your team and the lust for perfection and control becomes a virus that paralyzes the greatest asset of a company: The people.

Modern companies are full of Beau Geste leaders and they prevent the company to unfold its full potential. The need to create and control processes, systems and decisions simply suffocate talent and cripple’s maneuverability. The C19 crisis has demonstrated that talent flourishes when they have space to perform.

A great leader must be insightful into own strengths and weaknesses and accept the virtue composition. Only in that way the leader can be truly credible as a human being and the fear of being exposed as a fake perfectionist will be reduced.

A great leader sets targets, milestones with the team. A great leader create the strategy with the team. And the rest of the time a great leader makes sure to nourish the right talent and remove all resistance and any obstacle in the company’s performance circuit. Unleash talent.

Steen Albrectslund is former CEO of Skagen Designs, Fossil Inc. and Fitness World.

COVID-19

Second wave prevention

Helsingin Sanomat asks this morning what can be done to prevent a second wave of the coronavirus, especially as Finland begins reopening its borders with the outside world.

HS writes that the first wave of the virus largely arrived to Finland through holidaymakers, especially Finns returning home from ski resorts in northern Italy, who continued their daily lives after arriving home without any mandate to self-quarantine. Mistakes such as these must be avoided if Finland is to prevent, or at least limit, the effects of a second wave, HS writes.

Jari Jalava, a leading specialist at the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), told HS that it was surprisingly rare for infections to spread on airplanes, but they usually do spread at destinations.

“Trying to avoid infections there is rule number one,” Jalava said. “There you have to follow the same instructions as here. In other words, emphasis is placed on good hand hygiene, keeping distance, avoiding contact with sick people.”

Jalava added that tourists from Finland should carefully consider the destinations to which they intend to travel, and plan how to avoid any risk of infection. Self-quarantine on the return home is still recommended, especially for those coming from countries with a more severe coronavirus situation.

“Quarantine is the best way to avoid the spread of infections here,” Jalava said.

HS writes that authorities in Finland feel they are better prepared for the second wave than they were for the first. Measures, such as the mandatory wearing of masks by Finavia employees, that have been introduced to Finnish airports since February, are intended help minimise the risk of the virus spreading again.

“If the second wave of the pandemic is similar to the first, we will already have adequate safety and hygiene arrangements in place,” Finavia’s Communications Manager Annika Kåla told HS.

COVID-19

Ventilation for Covid-19 is a painful intubation

By Alyssa Petroni, nurse, Loyola University Medical Center

Here you go folks… for those people who don’t understand what it means to be on a ventilator but want to take the chance of going out without a mask…

For starters, it’s NOT an oxygen mask put over the mouth while the patient is comfortably lying down and reading magazines. Ventilation for Covid-19 is a painful intubation that goes down your throat and stays there until you live or you die.

It is done under anesthesia for 2 to 3 weeks without moving, often upside down, with a tube inserted from the mouth up to the trachea and allows you to breathe to the rhythm of the lung machine. The patient can’t talk or eat, or do anything naturally – the machine keeps you alive.

The discomfort and pain they feel from this means medical experts have to administer sedatives and painkillers to ensure tube tolerance for as long as the machine is needed. It’s like being in an artificial coma.

After 20 days from this treatment, a young patient loses 40% muscle mass, and gets mouth or vocal cords trauma, as well as possible pulmonary or heart complications.

It is for this reason that old or already weak people can’t withstand the treatment and die. Many of us are in this boat … so stay safe unless you want to take the chance of ending up here. This is NOT the flu.

Add a tube into your stomach, either through your nose or skin for liquid food, a sticky bag around your butt to collect the diarrhea, a foley catheter to collect urine, an IV for fluids and meds, an A-line f to monitor your BP that is completely dependent upon finely calculated med doses, teams of nurses, CRNA’s and MA’s to reposition your limbs every two hours and lying on a mat that circulates ice cold fluid to help bring down your 104 degree temp.

-Anyone want to try all that out? Stay home and wear a mask when you go out! Stay safe and well!-

What this article doesn’t say, is that the patient can hear everything that is said so if the staff carelessly talks about death, the patient panics. If the sedatives are lessened, the patient panics because he can’t breath or talk or, in his case, move. When they begin to lower the pain medications, the patient screams in his head but can’t make a sound. When they take out the tubes it’s extremely uncomfortable. A trachea may replace the respirator, the patient still can’t talk or eat without a tube.

Your child, your spouse, your parent, suffers from covid 19 alone in the hospital. The victims are not limited to strangers. When you choose to crowd, unmasked, into newly opened stores for some irrelevant purchase, ask yourself if it’s worth a lifetime of knowing your child suffered, maybe died, alone.

History

Meet Ruby Bridges

By Remy Merriex

Meet Ruby Bridges, at 6 years old, she was the first Black child to attend an all-White elementary school in the south.

For her to attend school her first day, men with guns had to make way through a crowd of grown men and women screaming “nigger”, threatening her life and waving confederate flags.

Nearly all the teachers abandoned the school except for one. In her classroom, all her classmates abandoned the class refusing to sit with the 6 yr old.

For the entire school year, Ruby went to school to a classroom that was just her and the one teacher that didn’t refuse her.

She refused to eat any food that wasn’t pre-packaged and sealed because White protestors frequently threatened to poison her like a rat.

Ruby is only 65 years old today, younger than most of your parents. If you think America doesn’t have dramatic and urgent work to do on racial equity, you still have blinders on.

Cool Leaders

What concrete steps we can start working on to improve our products and policies

By Mark Zuckerberg

I just shared the following note with our employees, and I want to share it with all of you as well.


As we continue to process this difficult moment, I want to acknowledge the real pain expressed by members of our community. I also want to acknowledge that the decision I made last week has left many of you angry, disappointed and hurt. So I am especially grateful that, despite your heartfelt disagreement, you remain focused on taking positive steps to move forward. That can’t be easy, so I just want to say I hear you and I’m grateful.

I believe our platforms can play a positive role in helping to heal the divisions in our society, and I’m committed to making sure our work pulls in this direction. To all of you who have already worked tirelessly on ideas to improve, I thank you. You’re making a difference, and together we’ll make a difference. And while we will continue to stand for giving everyone a voice and erring on the side of free expression in these difficult decisions — even when it’s speech we strongly and viscerally disagree with — I’m committed to making sure we also fight for voter engagement and racial justice too.

Many of you have asked what concrete steps we can start working on to improve our products and policies. I want to share more about the seven areas I discussed at Q&A that we’re focusing on initially. Based on feedback from employees, civil rights experts and subject matter experts internally, we’re exploring the following areas, which fit into three categories: ideas related to specific policies, ideas related to decision-making, and proactive initiatives to advance racial justice and voter engagement. I want to be clear that while we are looking at all of these areas, we may not come up with changes we want to make in all of them.

Ideas related to specific policies:

  1. We’re going to review our policies allowing discussion and threats of state use of force to see if there are any amendments we should adopt. There are two specific situations under this policy that we’re going to review. The first is around instances of excessive use of police or state force. Given the sensitive history in the US, this deserves special consideration. The second case is around when a country has ongoing civil unrest or violent conflicts. We already have precedents for imposing greater restrictions during emergencies and when countries are in ongoing states of conflict, so there may be additional policies or integrity measures to consider around discussion or threats of state use of force when a country is in this state.
  2. We’re going to review our policies around voter suppression to make sure we’re taking into account the realities of voting in the midst of a pandemic. I have confidence in the election integrity efforts we’ve implemented since 2016. We’ve played a role in protecting many elections and now have some of the most advanced systems in the world. But there’s a good chance that there will be unprecedented fear and confusion around going to the polls in November, and some will likely try to capitalize on that confusion. For example, as politicians debate what the vote-by-mail policies should be in different states, what should be the line between a legitimate debate about the voting policies and attempts to confuse or suppress individuals about how, when or where to vote? If a newspaper publishes articles claiming that going to polls will be dangerous given Covid, how should we determine whether that is health information or voter suppression?
  3. We’re going to review potential options for handling violating or partially-violating content aside from the binary leave-it-up or take-it-down decisions. I know many of you think we should have labeled the President’s posts in some way last week. Our current policy is that if content is actually inciting violence, then the right mitigation is to take that content down — not let people continue seeing it behind a flag. There is no exception to this policy for politicians or newsworthiness. I think this policy is principled and reasonable, but I also respect a lot of the people who think there may be better alternatives, so I want to make sure we hear all those ideas. I started meeting with the team yesterday and we’re continuing the discussion soon. In general, I worry that this approach has a risk of leading us to editorialize on content we don’t like even if it doesn’t violate our policies, so I think we need to proceed very carefully.

Ideas related to decision-making:

  1. We’re going to work on establishing a clearer and more transparent decision-making process. This is clearly not the last difficult decision we’re going to have to make, and I agree with the feedback from many of you that we should have a more transparent process about how we weigh the different values and equities at stake, including safety and privacy. I think we can provide more transparency into what goes into the policy briefings and recommendations that get sent to me. These analyses are done thoroughly by Monika Bickert’s team and take into account many voices. Since I accept the team’s recommendations the vast majority of the time, this process is where I think we should focus most on transparency. For the most sensitive escalations where I discuss with the team further rather than just accepting their recommendation over email, we can try to outline how we incorporate all perspectives into those follow-up discussions as well, even though that tends to vary depending on the equities at stake in each decision.
  2. More broadly, we’re going to review whether we need to change anything structurally to make sure the right groups and voices are at the table — not only when decisions affecting a certain group are being made, but when other decisions that may set precedents are being made as well. I’m committed to elevating the representation of diversity, inclusion and human rights in our processes and management team discussions, and I will follow up soon with specific thoughts on how we can structurally improve this.

Proactive initiatives to advance racial justice and voter engagement:

  1. We’ve started a workstream for building products to advance racial justice. Many of you have shared ideas in the past few days on product improvements we can look at, and I’ve been impressed by how quickly we’ve moved here. I’ve asked Fidji to be responsible for this work, and Ime will be shifting some volunteers from our New Products Experimentation team to focus on this as well. They’ll have more to share on the first set of projects we’re planning to take on soon.
  2. We’re building a voter hub to double down on our previous get-out-the-vote efforts. At the end of the day, voting is the best way to hold our leaders accountable and address many of these long term questions about justice. Our efforts will draw on lessons we learned from our successful Covid Information Center in order to make our voting and civic engagement efforts as central as our efforts around Covid recovery. We’ll focus on making sure everyone has access to accurate and authoritative information about voting, as well as building tools to encourage people to register to vote and help them encourage their friends and communities to vote as well. In 2016, we ran one of the largest get out the vote efforts in history. I expect us to do even better in 2020.

To members of our Black community: I stand with you. Your lives matter. Black lives matter.

We have so far to go to overcome racial injustice in America and around the world, and we all have a responsibility and opportunity to change that. I believe our platforms will play a positive role in this, but we have work to do to make sure our role is as positive as possible. These ideas are a starting point and I’m sure we’ll find more to do as we continue on this journey. I encourage you all to also check out Maxine’s post about how you can give direct feedback on product, integrity and content policy ideas as well. Thanks for all your input so far, and I’m looking forward to making progress together over the coming weeks and months.

Posts

We stand with the Black community

By Mark Zuckerberg

The pain of the last week reminds us how far our country has to go to give every person the freedom to live with dignity and peace. It reminds us yet again that the violence Black people in America live with today is part of a long history of racism and injustice. We all have the responsibility to create change.

We stand with the Black community — and all those working towards justice in honor of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and far too many others whose names will not be forgotten.

To help in this fight, I know Facebook needs to do more to support equality and safety for the Black community through our platforms. As hard as it was to watch, I’m grateful that Darnella Frazier posted on Facebook her video of George Floyd’s murder because we all needed to see that. We need to know George Floyd’s name. But it’s clear Facebook also has more work to do to keep people safe and ensure our systems don’t amplify bias.

The organizations fighting for justice also need funding, so Facebook is committing an additional $10 million to groups working on racial justice. We’re working with our civil rights advisors and our employees to identify organizations locally and nationally that could most effectively use this right now.

I know that $10 million can’t fix this. It needs sustained, long term effort. One of the areas Priscilla and I have personally worked on and where racism and racial disparities are most profound is in the criminal justice system. I haven’t talked much about our work on this, but the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has been one of the largest funders, investing ~$40 million annually for several years in organizations working to overcome racial injustice. Priscilla and I are committed to this work, and we expect to be in this fight for many years to come. This week has made it clear how much more there is to do.

I hope that as a country we can come together to understand all of the work that is still ahead and do what it takes to deliver justice — not just for families and communities that are grieving now, but for everyone who carries the burden of inequality.

Cool Leaders · Media

We are witnessing the emergence of a new media economy

By Hamish McKenzie

In 2010, at 29 years old, I came to the US as a freelance journalist. My previous job had been as a writer for an entertainment magazine in Hong Kong, and I had no connections here. That first year, living in Austin, Texas, I scrapped for stories about cartel murders, human relationships, and, um, the World Beard and Moustache Championships. I sent them to magazines and newspapers in Hong Kong and New Zealand. For extra income on the side, I wrote entries for ad agencies that were submitting their work for awards. At the end of the year, I tallied my pre-tax earnings and found I had made $35,000. 

That amount seemed small to some of my friends. Despite two advanced degrees and six years of journalism experience, I earned a lot less than peers who had gone into other careers. But I was so proud of myself. I didn’t care about getting rich. I cared only about earning enough money to keep doing work that I felt was meaningful – in ways big and small. A phone call I received a few years earlier during an internship for a New Zealand newspaper had stuck in my mind. I had written an article about a group of World War II veterans who were raising funds for a memorial trip to Crete, where some of their friends were laid to rest. It was a short piece buried in the middle of the paper, and I had thought little of it. But after it was published, a daughter of one of the veterans called to thank me, profusely, because the article meant so much to those men. I would go on to write much bigger stories in my career, but I was forever in search of the feeling I had on that call. My storytelling had made a positive difference in someone’s life. It was the best kind of pay a journalist could hope for.

Were I starting as a freelancer in a similar position today, I don’t think I could scrape together $35,000 in a year – even with corporate side gigs. An industry that once sustained so many writing careers is now in a freefall accelerated by the pandemic. I have been watching in dismay as news organizations of all sizes from around the world have been laying off journalists and slashing freelance budgets. My friends are losing their livelihoods. Writers I have respected for years are getting desperate. These people aren’t just in despair over losing their jobs; they’re scared that the very profession might disappear. Will being a journalist ever be financially viable again? Most of them have never sought riches; they just hope to earn enough money to cover the bills so they can do the work they believe is important. To many, that’s starting to look impossible. 

One of the most painful aspects of this situation is that journalism itself isn’t broken. People want and need trusted storytelling more than ever, and there are many capable journalists ready to do the work. But the business model that supports journalism is broken, with devastating repercussions. In recent weeks, we’ve seen mass layoffs at The Economist, Condé Nast, Quartz, BuzzFeed, Vice, and Protocol, to name a few. There will be thousands more. These losses come on top of years of retrenchment and consolidation, including the sales of once-vaunted and now-distressed publications to legacy-burnishing billionaires, and the bankruptcies and mergers of giant newspaper groups such as McClatchy, Gannett, and GateHouse — a crushing blow to local news in particular.

Some in the news business hope that Facebook and Google, under the right pressure from regulators, will send them rescue money. But no matter how much money can be squeezed out of the tech giants, it will never be enough to fix the broken parts of the support system that once sustained the free press. Instead, to find a way forward, those who care about the future of news need to play a different game – one that puts writers in control of their own destiny.

This is one of the key reasons we started Substack. We’re attempting to build an alternative media economy that gives journalists autonomy. If you don’t rely on ads for your revenue, you don’t have to be a pawn in the attention economy – which means you don’t have to compete with Facebook and Google. If you’re not playing the ads game, you can stop chasing clicks and instead focus on quality. If you control the relationship with your audience, you don’t have to rely on outside parties to favor you with traffic. And if you own a mailing list, no-one can cut you off from your readers. 

In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about what might come along to “save” the news business from the ravages of the internet. But I think that’s the wrong framing. It’s better to ask: How can we use the internet to reinvent the entire business? We’ve defaulted to ads as the dominant business model for so long that we’ve failed to fully explore other options. I don’t accept that an ad-supported model is the best possible way to unleash humanity’s ability to produce and disseminate trustworthy storytelling. I don’t believe that we’ve seen the full potential of how good the news business can be. And yes, now we are in a crisis. But that crisis is an opportunity for reinvention. It’s a chance to build a new system where writers are well compensated and communities are well served. The internet might have helped get us into this mess, but it can also get us out.

The internet makes distribution frictionless and free – what used to take hours in trucks now takes milliseconds on the web. It makes a writer’s potential audience global instead of local. And it makes it easy to get paid. With a tool like Substack, you don’t need a complicated setup to manage the flow of information and money. When you don’t have to worry about a tech stack, design, back-office admin, or advertisers, you can spend all your time and energy on the most important thing: the journalism itself. 

With the subscription model, the numbers don’t have to be huge to produce meaningful revenue. If you can persuade a couple thousand people to pay you $5 a month, you’ll make $100,000 a year. It’s not easy – it takes time, dedication, and care – but it’s more doable than ever. In 2007, when I was hired as a reporter for a new trade magazine in Hong Kong, the assumption was that magazines like that took three years to become profitable. With the Substack model, the time to profitability can be reduced to months or even days, since you don’t need to staff up, build a sales operation, or stand up the technological infrastructure. 

Look at what Polina Marinova, formerly of Fortune, is doing with The Profile, where she focuses on deep-dives on fascinating people; or what Tony Mecia, formerly of the Weekly Standard, is doing with business news publication the Charlotte Ledger; or how Richard Rushfield, a former editor of HitFix, is covering the business of Hollywood with The Ankler. Matt Taibbi left Rolling Stone and is using Substack to put a spotlight on corruption in politics. Matt Elliott is covering Toronto’s City Hall. Judd Legum is exposing miscreant corporate giants with Popular Information

These journalists are doing the work they find most meaningful, having an impact, and making good money along the way. Emily Atkin, formerly of the New Republic, launched her climate change publication Heated in late 2019. A few months later, she is doing better by all measures than in any of her previous journalism jobs. “I was so scared when I left the New Republic that I would have to fight so hard to make my work have an impact because I lacked this institutional support,” Emily told an audience of writers in New York earlier this year, adding later: “I can’t believe how wrong I was.”

“I’ve never seen the type of impact that I’ve had in a 10-year reporting career than what I’ve had with such a smaller news audience, and that’s because these are passionate people. These are people who are there because of you, and they’re invested in you, and they take what you do and they yell about it.” 

Even though Emily is just getting started with Heated, it’s already working out financially, she said. Her income is comfortably in six figures. “I make more money now than I had at any salaried journalism job.”

Today, Substack publications are like islands on their own, with little communication between each. But over time, we aim to build Substack into a network, where writers can support each other and readers can find millions of deeply satisfying media experiences. As the network grows, there’ll be opportunity for cooperation, community, and innovation. We’re already starting to see people work together to take advantage of new opportunities with Substack. The writers who used to staff Gizmodo Media Group’s Splinter have started a new project called Discourse Blog. The Weekly Standard’s former editor-in-chief, Steve Hayes, teamed up with Jonah Goldberg and David French from the National Review to create The Dispatch, which crossed $1 million in revenue in a matter of weeks. A team of basketball writers who love the Golden State Warriors left SB Nation and created Let’s Go Warriors. Dan Shipper and Nathan Baschez have jury-rigged a bundle for their business-strategy publications, Divinations and Superorganizers

I’m wary of selling false hope to journalists who have been burned many times over by grand promises from technology companies. It is true that this new model won’t immediately work for everyone. But there are early signs that we are witnessing the emergence of a new media economy. The top writers on Substack are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, and there’s a rapidly growing middle class, with writers and podcasters netting incomes that range from pocket money to high five figures. There are now well over 100,000 paying subscribers to Substack publications. We are learning from the activity in these early days and building resources and programs — such as fellowshipsworkshops, and grants — to help as many people as possible succeed.  

As I reflect on my career as a journalist, I feel compelled to do everything in my power to help. I can’t guarantee success to just anyone who starts on Substack, but I can guarantee our support. If you’ve been affected by this crisis and are interested in exploring what’s possible on Substack, please get in touch (hello@substack.com). Our team is focused on taking one-on-one coaching and development calls to talk about editorial strategies, how to think about launching paid subscriptions, and offering best practices for getting started. But we also know that the best guides are other writers on Substack who are succeeding with the model. Below is a list of Susbtack writers who have volunteered to offer advice. Fill in this form and we’ll set you up on a call. 

I believe that we’ll get through this together, and one day we will look back at this time not as the end of days, but as the start of a transition that transformed journalism for the better. 

Thank you to everyone who has supported Substack, and Substack writers, so far. There’s so much more to come.


Substack writers who have volunteered to offer advice calls 

To schedule a call, please complete this form.

(Want to add your name to this list? Email hello@substack.com with “Volunteer” in the subject line.)


Hamish is co-founder and COO of Substack.

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