Since I opted out of the race to the bottom months ago, some have reached out to say:
Okay, Wilcox. We get it. You removed all the ads. The Amazon affiliate links are helping dogs now. You’ve removed all financial incentive to kowtow or chase quick hits, so you’re free to only write about what you actually find interesting and/or exciting. But does enacting your principles necessarily mean taking a vow of poverty? That seems like a dangerous precedent to set for the future of online music coverage.
Actually, no people have said that. But they could have.
So I’ve put myself and this site on Patreon, which is like Kickstarter but with recurring monthly donations for ongoing projects. You can see (and support?) my page here.
You’re already retching, but hear me out.
Indie musicians regularly raise $10,000 and up to record a single album. Is $10,000 too much? Not at all. It’s the real cost of bringing the new thing into the world. If enough people want the album to exist, they help fund it into existence. People who are indifferent or offended needn’t participate.
What’s ongoing music coverage worth? I don’t know. But I’d like to believe the things I bring into existence here – the quote roundups and the album reviews and (now) the podcasts and everything else – are worth something to a large enough group of people to justify their continued creation. Perhaps even worth something to musicians who rely on sites like this for coverage?
Patronage beats running ads because… Well, I hate ads and you hate ads. Let’s start there. I also know that the people who click ads are not generally regular visitors (who develop ‘ad blindness’) but rather half-interested, easily-sidetracked first-timers. Making ads profitable means continually attracting more and different eyeballs, beyond the faithful folks who see a site all the time. As if the ads themselves aren’t bad enough, reliance on them also infects content in the form of needing to ‘go viral’ to keep pulling in those tasty new hit-and-run clickers. And then you get Taste of Country.
A patron is different from an ad-clicker. There’s about a 0% chance of a first-time visitor becoming an immediate backer. Patronage requires loyalty, which must be earned. For this experiment to work, I’ll have to always be producing content of such quality that people find themselves returning often and shuddering to imagine a world without this site. No ads to sell or viruses to spread. Just being indispensable. Patronage, as a funding model, will allow me to put my focus where it belongs.
For you, Patreon has the additional advantage of transparency. There’s no wondering if enough ads have been sold or if enough other people have donated privately to keep the site humming along. Whatever money is made will be made through patronage. If I have to shut down for financial reasons, those reasons will be clear enough from the public campaign page.
(If you’ve donated to the site within the past couple years and want that amount applied toward the new perks, let me know and I’ll figure out a way. I remain deeply appreciative of everyone who has ever helped Country California through any of its various awkward developmental stages.)