The publishing site Quartz.com laid off more staff this past week. It’s not that Quartz hasn’t found a revenue model; it has already decided its best revenue future is via monthly subscriptions. Quartz like many others knows that bleeding you bit by bit over time is much less painless and less noticeable. The risk is having people experience financial pain by a thousand cuts.
In the past publishers preferred to get their subscription revenue on an annual basis but that also was a way for them to deliver controlled circulation for advertisers. As print advertising continued to live but wane, actual subscription revenue became increasingly important. The ‘get a few free’ before demanding pay-to-view is now the default for many publishers.
I’m quite fine with publishers and content distributors charging real money to access their platforms and associated content. But there’s only so many platforms that people can possibly follow and derive value from. We’ve come a long way from twenty-somethings having expenses outside of food and rent be not much more than a phone bill and a power bill. The monthly subscription fees that add up for you today are probably much more than you are aware of or would care to admit.
Clearly there’s more high quality content out in the marketplace than ever has been the case prior. It’s just…well who has the TIME to view it all? Read it all? Listen to it all? When you think – ‘hey’ it’s only $5/month’ you are likely not thinking that you will try it for a month and if you don’t get your $5 you will cancel. A year later you have paid $60 for this subscription that you hopefully have used to some degree. $3/month here, $6/month there, it all adds up more quickly than you might realize. Add your precious wireless bill to that, Hulu, or cable, or Dish, or whatever, and for an individual, monthly subscriptions are on the way to being $200 or more.
Do I have an answer? No and I don’t know that there is an ‘answer’. Maybe controlling the urge to sign up would be a place to start. Subscription deals are not always so easy to cancel if you know what I mean. But if the content is really good even only some of the time there’s that feeling – FOMO if you abandon ship. I’ve got some work to do on that one. Since it’s the Fourth of July Holiday this week I will celebrate by NOT reading everything.