Support Journalism: Consider Patreon-izing The Runout

It’s true that starting a blog on platforms like Tumblr come with no initial cost, but anyone trying to make a legitimate site knows that going the ‘free’ route rarely results in success. Just to get on the radar of most publicists you at least need a URL, which comes with an annual cost, and unless you have a strong grasp of coding you will likely have to pay for site customizations at some point along the way. You may also incur server costs, which range anywhere from ten bucks a month to thousands of dollars every year, and as you grow the rate will continue to go up.

The point I’m trying to make is that, while arguably incredibly cheap compared to barriers preventing entry into other industries, there is some cost associated with creating and maintaining a proper music blog. Most will pay out of pocket at first, but as a site begins to flourish the cost of upkeep can often become too much for some people to afford on their own. This leaves them with only a handful of options, the most popular being to either allow advertisements or shut down completely. Neither of these are necessarily the best options, but all too often they’re the only ones most writers consider. 

Recently, a service called Patreon has been rising in popularity. The service, which admittedly was not created with blog owners in mind, allows anyone to create a donation/support system for their project. People can choose to donate as little as $1 a month every month or they can opt for a one-time payment. Additionally, projects and websites seeking support can offer gifts/rewards to people who support their efforts. It’s kind of like Kickstarter, except the funding period never ends.

The reason I tell you all of this is because one of our favorite sites, The Runout, has recently launched a Patreon page in hopes of finding reader support for their ongoing efforts in punk journalism. You can read a message from the site’s founder, former featured professional Bryne Yancey, below:

It’s that time. We’re eight months into The Runout’s existence, and now I’m going to ask you nicely for something.

I was laid off from my day job at the beginning of 2015, a day job that essentially paid for The Runout to keep going; the site had no income, per se, so I used my own, like everyone tells you you’re supposed to do when you love something. I didn’t mind doing it, but given what my income was (small), it was far from a sustainable model. I knew that.

I really, really don’t want ads on The Runout. I’m guessing the majority of you don’t want them either. You know how everyone says the separation of church and state doesn’t really exist? Neither does the separation of advertising and publishing. I don’t want The Runout’s content to be influenced by ad partners. I’ve been in meetings with ad departments before where some, not all, but some editorial coverage was bargained over based on who was spending the most ad dollars that month. Even recognizing it as a necessary evil in that situation for keeping the lights on and everybody paid (I don’t know for sure, but I would guess that almost every magazine functions this way to some degree), it was routinely as soul-crushing as it sounds.

I didn’t get into this to placate ad partners, but I can’t feasibly keep The Runout going on income earned as an underemployed freelancer. So I’m asking you to help.

We’ve set up a Patreon page (thanks to PropertyofZack for the inspiration) where you can donate as little as $1 a month to keep The Runout up and running and constantly improving. If even 20% of our followers on tumblr gave $1/month, I could afford to run the site full-time, like, *as my job.*
There are also higher tiers, where if you give more, we will give you more in return:

—For $5 a month, you’ll get access to a monthly, members-only podcast that will feature roundtable discussions of topics covered on the site, interviews, new music and more.

—For $10 a month, you’ll get access to the podcast as well as a membership in our new mix CD club. Every month, we’ll mail you a new CD with tracks curated by The Runout’s contributors and special guests. The CDs will be themed each month, with artwork, liner notes and all kinds of other cool stuff. If you don’t want CDs but want to join at this level anyway, we’ll send you digital files instead. But as a 30 year-old, CDs are cooler, in my opinion.

—We’re also taking pre-orders for a year-end zine. For a one-time donation of $25, we’ll mail you a year-end physical zine with some of the site’s best work, as well as exclusive essays, interviews, artwork and more. We’ll package the zine with some music and other stuff to make it even more worth the price.

Check it out here, and please give if you can. Thank you.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.