Welcome! I'm Simon Owens and this is my media newsletter. You can subscribe by clicking on this handy little button:
Let’s jump right into it…
The Tenuous Promise of the Substack Dream
I continue to think the worries over "subscription fatigue" are based mostly on bad assumptions. There are billions of people on the internet, and there are so many ways to splice and dice their niche interests and information needs. If you make something that people are obsessed with, they'll pay for it. You don't see countless columns written about "book fatigue" or "music fatigue." [Wired]
Inside YouTube’s plan to win the music-streaming wars
A good piece on how YouTube has stumbled in its music ambitions and why it's still well positioned to rival Spotify in the space. Spotify just can't compete with YouTube's depth and diversity of content. [Protocol]
How a bestselling author became a one-man media company
For several decades Randy Gage had the kind of career that most writers only aspire to. He’d written multiple bestselling books on career success and traveled the world to give motivational speeches to sold-out audiences.
But several years ago, Gage made a major pivot. He decided he wanted to spend more of his time writing, and he also recognized that authors needed to create a large body of work online in order to remain relevant. So he began producing regular blog posts, YouTube videos, and podcasts. He also doubled down on social media, amassing 400,000 followers across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
I interviewed Gage about why he made this pivot, how he structures his content output throughout the week, and why he’s abandoning traditional publishing to self-publish his next book.
To access this case study and others like it, you need to become a paying subscriber to this newsletter. By doing so, you’ll not only receive these case studies in your inbox, but you’ll also be supporting the production of the free newsletter and podcast. You get awesome content that’ll help you in your career and you’ll be supporting an independent creator. Click on the below link to get 10% off for the first year.
Why publishers need to play “moneyball” to beat The New York Times
Like everyone else, I’ve noticed that Vox Media has suffered a recent exodus of its star talent. In the last year or so, it’s lost Kara Swisher, Ezra Klein, Andrew Sullivan, Casey Newton, and Matt Yglesias. In all these cases, the writer either went to The New York Times (Swisher, Klein) or Substack (Sullivan, Newton, Yglesias).
Vox isn’t the only media company to fall victim to this trend. BuzzFeed, for instance, has also lost talent to these destinations, including its longtime editor-in-chief. While mulling all this over, I began to draw parallels to the movie Moneyball and the predicament Billy Beane faced when trying to go up against much richer baseball teams. I thought about turning these musings into an article, but it felt too much like a hot take with not enough connective tissue, so I turned it into a Twitter thread instead. [Simon Owens]
‘A digital Madison Square Garden’: How Complex reimagined the sponsorship opportunities for ComplexLand
Complex continues to out-innovative virtually every other publisher in the events space. [Digiday]
Why a Paid Newsletter Won’t Be Enough Money for Most Writers (And That’s Fine): The Multi-SKU Creator
This makes an interesting point that a paid Substack doesn't need to generate a full-time income to be successful, but I think it underestimates how much time you have to put into growing a newsletter. It's hard to do as a part time job. Like you're not going to see any meaningful growth of your newsletter if you're only putting in 10 hours a week. Not unless you already have a huge existing audience. [Medium]
I have a private Facebook group I only promote in this newsletter
It now has hundreds of members, almost all of whom work in digital media. We have pretty vibrant discussions about industry trends, and I dip into the group pretty often to respond to user comments. Join over here. [Facebook]
Kindle Unlimited Funding Pool Rose by $300K in October 2020
Wow, Kindle Unlimited, Amazon's Spotify-like subscription service for books, is paying out $32.9 million per month now to authors. That's not nothing! [The Digital Reader]
Snapchat Takes on TikTok: Snap Launches Spotlight, Will Pay Creators Over $1M Daily for Top Videos
This is an interesting way to pay creators: creating a daily pool of money ($1 million) and then doling it out each day based on the amount of engagement. Kind of similar to how Spotify and Medium pays creators, but with a fixed amount. [Variety]
I love it when this happens
Every week, a few of you take the time to recommend my newsletter on social media.
Not only does it provide a huge boost of validation, I also see an immediate uptick in subscribers. That means every time someone recommends this newsletter, I get just a little bit closer to making it my full-time job. Could you take just a few moments to recommend it?
Here, I’ll even provide you some language you can copy and paste:
I've really been enjoying @simonowens' media newsletter. If you work in the industry and aren’t subscribed, then you’re missing out.
Thank you in advance!