THB #200: Money Changes Everything
10 months and 1 day ago, I launched this newsletter.
I hadn’t written daily for a few years and after a lot of thinking, I decided it was what I should be doing. It’s been a happy time, back at the keyboard, analyzing, reviewing, and trying every day to find the muse in the industry I have loved for more than 45 years, been a part of for more than 35 years, and written about for more than 25 years.
I have always believed in free content. The idea of charging the reader has never really sat right with me. Not 100% sure why. Maybe it’s because I am a niche guy, writing in depth about things that tend to only be interesting to a narrow swath of the public. Maybe it’s just a self-indulgence, willing myself to be free of the demands of thinking about satisfying my supporters before myself. Maybe I just want the door to be wide open to people who have never read me before and might join in the conversation in some unexpected way.
But after a few months of writing daily for free and then a few months of having Oscar season sponsors who generously bought ads, I decided that the 200th newsletter would be the time that I would put up the pay wall.
And here we are…
The moment for newsletters seems to me to be as up for grabs as much as the film/television industry. I’m not looking for 5 -10 “partner writers” to create value in The Hot Button. I’m not looking to build an empire. I think I write often enough, with enough variation in focus, to be as much or more than anyone might want stuffing their inbox. And like podcasts and streamers, how many of these wonders can any of us subscribe to before they become a chore instead of a pleasure?
So, here is my unique proposition. I will dig deeper, think more broadly, chase more varied perspectives, and never, ever just throw the same press release journalism at you that you get in so many places. I will give you the + every day. I will never just tell you what I’ve heard, but rather I will put everything I hear to the test.
If you read me, you will see trends months before they turn up pretty much anywhere else. You will have more evidence than opinion. You may agree with me. You may disagree. That is a big part of the experience. An unchallenged idea is an idea that will, more often than not, cost you time and/or money. I will not waste your time.
And if I am wrong about something, I will not just overwrite what I wrote and pretend I always had it right.
This paywall thing is new to me. So there will be some experimentation. I’d like to use the generosity of subscribers to try to keep the door open as wide as is reasonable to those who can’t afford to be generous. I will measure and cut, cut and measure.
The pricing - how gauche! - is either $75 a year (aka $1.50 a week) or $10 a month.
As Roger Ebert might have said, if you want to read it, $1.50 a week is too little… and if you don’t want to read it, free is too expensive.
For those of you who choose to just stick to the free subscription, I will do my best to serve you as well. This includes a free week of paid access for everyone.
I spent much of today planning a piece on the state of the industry, but this whole thing about turning on paid subscriptions was just too distracting. I find it unnerving. I don’t enjoy marketing myself. It’s like asking a couple thousand girls on a date at the same time and just waiting to find out what percentage of them will reject you. I know… focus on the ones that embrace you. But we are all vulnerable to the slings and arrows of outrageous paywalls.
I thank you for your time and indulgence… and perhaps a bit of your money.
Now I am looking forward to writing as soon as possible about what I am more comfortable with - and more interested in - the industry. It will be behind a paywall… which we will figure out together.
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