Today, Stereogum is entering a critical phase in our evolution as an independent online music magazine. You are no doubt aware that the era of exclusively ad-supported media has been coming to an end for some time now, as ad revenue alone no longer seems to support any publication. This is especially true for a medium-sized blog like Stereogum that doesn’t have a sales team besides me. That’s why I want to talk to you about crypto haha jk, that’s why we’re launching a paid membership program and yes, it includes an option to browse the site without ads. *Lizzo voice* It’s about damn time.
When I first made plans to buy this website back from our business leaders in Fall 2019, subscription fees were part of a varied revenue proposition in addition to a merch store, vinyl affiliate sales, sponsored emails, and some of the other steps that were needed if not particularly lucrative. A membership model that is fully integrated into the existing platform – as opposed to an emergency service like Patreon or Substack – would be expected to be key to our survival, albeit a major technological hurdle as we don’t have full-time developers. Fortunately, in the journey to get here, partial paywalls and member-only benefits have really taken hold in the modern media ecosystem. Hopefully the idea of paying for digital content you love isn’t so strange to you now. For example, I pay $20 a month for DJ Khaled and Fat Joe’s joint OnlyFans, even though it’s free.
Of course we wouldn’t have survived until now without the crowdfunding of our Save Stereogum album from two years ago. The money raised (minus the not insignificant costs of producing the comp, producing and shipping merch, and for that matter Indiegogo and credit card processing fees) allowed us to redesign the website, fix tons of site bugs, create a new commenting system to implement, hire dozens of new freelance writers and, finally, build this membership experience.
As of today, Stereogum membership is available in two tiers: MEMBER ($5/month) and VIP ($10/month). You can sign up to pay monthly or annually (with a discount). We didn’t want to pay for any aspect of the existing user experience if we could avoid it, so think of all these benefits as really great bonuses.
✓ An invite to the Stereogum Discord, which – surprise – has been seeded over the past six months with some of Stereogum’s best and brightest commentators. In the Discord, Stereogum writers share music news and gossip that didn’t make it to the site, semi-confidential music biz and release information, and previews of upcoming editorial features… plus we’re asking for your input on columns like Album Of The Week and 10 Best numbers. On your birthday, you can ask Tom to rate your life on a scale of 1 to 10.
✓ Exclusive articles and playlists. One of them will probably be an editor-in-chief (hi) column with inside baseball stuff about our editorial decisions and my adventures running this music blog for the past 100 years. Maybe we’re doing a music movie or book club? We will include your suggestions in the aforementioned Discord.
✓ Exclusive discount codes for our merch store.
✓ Access to articles before 2013. OK, I think I lied about not paying for existing content; our old articles are now members only.
✓ Everything from the MEMBERS layer
✓ A little red VIP trophy next to all your comments!
✓ No ads!
Some of our ad units are pushy, we know that. Stereogum partners with a top monetization network that helps us determine how we want ads to appear. Pages are optimized to make the most money, and as you might imagine, banners that are hidden or easily ignored are not good for business. So if ads annoy you, slow your page loading, or worry you because of tracking, you might want our VIP experience.
Whether you become a member or VIP, your financial support will help us remain completely independent, hire more writers and fund more ambitious editorial projects and events. And in case you were wondering, stereogum.com does not store your credit card information. All billing is handled through Recurly, so your financial information is safe.
Check it out at stereogum.com/membership.