If you told me a year ago that I’d be writing up to 16,000 words a month and editing a web magazine that’s read by thousands of musicians and audio professionals, I’d have been flattered — and suspicious about what you were trying to butter me up for.
Today, publishing Trust Me, I’m a Scientist is a part-time labor of love that earns us zero dollars, but a fair amount of praise. Here are a few of the things you’ve been saying so far:
“Relentlessly tasteful and interesting.”
-Chad Clark [Beauty Pill, Fugazi, Marc Ribot]
“Nice to know there’s still some hope left in the music biz. Another awesome article by Justin Colletti.”
-Heba Kadry [At The Drive In, Sea and Cake, The Lodge NYC]
“A great ‘signal-to-noise’ ratio. It’s really all signal.”
-Damian Taylor [Bjork, The Prodigy, Arcade Fire]
“AWESOME issue Justin. Really impressed. I’m a fan.”
-Tony Maimome [Pere Ubu, Frank Black, They Might Be Giants]
“Loved your Brooklyn studio articles. A lot of great info in there.”
-John Congleton [St. Vincent, Modest Mouse, Erykah Badu]
“I love what you are doing and the quality of the writing. Keep it up.”
-Fabrice “Fab” Dupont [Brazilian Girls, Marc Ronson, Isaac Hayes]
“The best article I’ve read on iTunes Mastering yet.”
-James Beaudreau [Masterdisk]
“Justin Colletti engineers magic and has the patience of a saint.”
-Ana Breton [Dead Leaf Echo, Mahogany]
“THIS LOOKS COOL”
-Larry Crane [Tape Op Magazine, Elliot Smith, Sleater-Kinney]
“This issue was phenomenal. Incredibly well written, pleasantly confident, positive and full of wonderfully insightful commentary that if printed on paper could easily fill 100 fortune cookies.”
-Nick Krever, Musician/Artist/Music Video Werewolf
The Future of TMimaS
Praise like that is enough to keep anyone going for a while, and the next 6 months, Scientist plans to remain completely free of advertisements or donation buttons.
Following that, we’re going to have to find a way to offer incentives to our contributors, and to keep dedicating our time to the research and writing of informative, fun-to-read, and downright kickass articles of the kind you can’t find anywhere else. Otherwise, the lure of doing music paid writing and audio work elsewhere is just too great.
Our goal is to begin paying our contributors in 6 months, beginning with our guest writers. In addition, I’d like to offer a small stipend to our humble editorial staff , in order to keep us from saying “yes” to all of the clients we have to turn down the first weekend of every month while we finish up the magazine.
Our initial target is to bring in $600/issue beginning in January. This is a super-lowball estimate for the current value of just 3 unobtrusive ads on our entire site. This sum will allow us to attract more great writers, dramatically expand our coverage, and even begin producing specialized long-form content like eBooks, industry reports and interactive product reviews.
There are essentially two ways we can do this. We can either:
A) Go commercial and start accepting sponsors (we’ve turned down every one so far) or
B) Go community-funded, and put out the tip jar in exchange for premiums (we’ve never asked our readers to pay for magazine content, and never will.)
Our question to you is: What will it be?
If we go the crowd-funding route, then $600/month means that just 1% of our readers would have to donate an average of $60/year (or that 6% of our readers would donate just $10/year) in exchange for fun gifts and premium content. This would keep us completely free of commercial interests.
Can we rely on you for your support? Please write in and let us know. I’ve always fantasized about running a community-funded outlet, but I’m also aware that most of my favorite non-profits rely on large donors and even underwriters. We can only consider this crowd-funding option if the level of reader support allows us to pay writers and expand our coverage.
Our other option is to accept a select few sponsors who would be allowed to access to you: an incredibly good-looking and brainy niche audience of musicians and audio nerds. We’d let them tell you about their newest tools and toys in a few strategically placed and unobtrusive ads, and maybe do some promotional giveaways as well.
At a couple hundred bucks a pop, most of these advertisers would see a real return by moving just a single product. Based on what I’ve witnessed at SonicScoop and Tape Op, I believe that with a little care, it’s possible to run an ad-sponsored publication with integrity and with the consumer’s interest at heart. A few of our readers have even told me they’d prefer the kinds of targeted notices and free giveaways that come with this kind of approach.
So what will be? I may have my own preferences, but in the end, this one is up to you.
Thanks as always for reading, and for sharing your thoughts.