With Cymbals Between My Legs

by | Jun 3, 2016

My father was a decent enough musician, but I was never very much good at blowing my own trumpet. It is with this in mind that I’m posting this message today. After ten years, we’re launching a subscription service here on Twohundredpercent. This isn’t to say that the site is going behind a paywall. Very few websites do that and turn a profit, these days. But how successful this venture is will probably have to determine the future direction of the site. After this long, it’s time for the site to pay back some of what I have shovelled into it – both financially and in terms of time – over the course of the last decade.

This, however, is not the only reason why I’ve decided to do this now. There are three main reasons why now is the right time for this:

  1. The Practical View: To the extent that I can do anything, this is the thing that I can do. And, while it’s hard work, I enjoy it, find it rewarding, and I think I’m probably reasonably good at it. I work in an office. If I ever want to try and break free of that, this is the only likely chance I have of doing so. And extra money would be more than useful.
  2. The Perfectionist View: I’m an insufferable perfectionist. You might not always think so from my writing, but the truth of the matter is that I am. And I want Twohundredpercent to be the best that it can possibly be, to do more investigative work, to campaign and to produce the sort of content that I wish to for the site. Being freed up to do so would allow the resources and the wherewithal to be able to do so, because…
  3. The Point of Principle: Writers, content producers, should be paid. If I have a long-term goal in my life it would be to run a website that hired talented writers and damn well paid them. You can’t pay rent with “exposure.” You can’t buy food with If I could somehow find a way of contributing towards the idea of small, independent media being important and worth paying for, even if I’m far from the first to make that argument.

I don’t make this request in return for nothing, of course. “Why should we pay you when you’ve done it for nothing for ten years?” is a valid question. The short answer to is that no-one is forcing anybody to pay anything. There won’t be a paywall going up around here, after all. But I can no longer guarantee that this website will not include advertisements in the future, and/or perhaps sponsored articles. They won’t be obtrusive (and sponsored posts are now required to be clearly marked as such and would be easily swerved) and I won’t accept advertising revenue from anybody that I’m uncomfortable with, ethically speaking. The user experience of this site will remain the most important thing of all, for me, and I can’t imagine the circumstances under which that would change.

But for a small subscription payment, you won’t see any of this. On top of that, anybody who pays £4.80 per month ($7, to be specific – such is the nature of payment systems being run by American companies) will get a copy of a specially produced e-magazine which we’re planning to start from the end of August. It would be nice to run off hard copies in the future, but this would need to be affordable for both readers and the website. I’m planning further benefits for subscribers as well – more on those as I finalise them. I certainly don’t want to make promises that I can’t keep, but I can say that we’re looking at micro-payments for individual articles and a second podcast for subscribers only, amongst other things.

We’re now also actively seeking sponsors for the podcast, as well. Because these days, running a website isn’t just a matter of merely typing for an hour or two and pressing the “post” button. Nowadays, I’m required to be a jack of all trades, to an extent. With regard to the podcast, I had to figure out how to record something, edit it a bit, add things to it and upload it onto the internet. And I’m still learning this, still trying to improve it. Considering the paucity of resources at my disposal, it usually turns out okay, and people seem to like it. Similarly, I’d like to move the site to better servers in order to improve load times, properly catalogue our vast archive, and a lot of other sweeping up exercises that would improve your experience.

I’m aware that over the course of the last few months, Twohundredpercent has lost a little of its forensic edge, and a little of its campaigning zest. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that time has been against me in with regard to this, but it is something that I would dearly love to get back to. I’d also like to have a go at writing a book. I’ve even got an idea for one, for heaven’s sake. Well, three-quarters of an idea for one. Ultimately, the point is that I when I allow myself to peer out of the little pessimistic cave that I’ve built for myself over the last twenty or thirty years or so, I start to think, “Perhaps I can do this after all. I mean, other people seem to like it and I don’t get much hate-mail”. That’s not an easy thing for me to allow myself to think. I guess I’ll find out whether the optimistic or pessimistic sides to my personality are correct.

There is a broader principle at stake here too, though. In the event of it looking likely that I could be in a position to do so, I’ll start approaching people for commissions. A lot of people have done a lot of work for Twohundredpercent over the last ten years of an exceptional quality level. I’d love to be able to repay them for their time and skill in the future, and to offer that opportunity to others, as well. I don’t think anybody will ever get rich off this website but that’s not why I started it ten years ago, and it’s not why I’m launching this today. After ten years, it’s time for this to happen.

So, what happens next? Well, a “call to action” banner will be added to all pages of the site with a link to our Patreon page shortly, and I would consider the next couple of months to be akin to a consultation period between you, the readers, and those of us who run this website. If you have any questions, I’m contactable through Twitter or through the form on the Contact page of this site. If you have any suggestions for what we could do for you, please let me know. I hope that you will understand that I’m doing this with the very best of intentions, for myself and my family, for the regular contributors to this site, for you, the readers, whose support would mean so much, and in support of the principle that writers and content producers should be rewarded for their work.

If I haven’t persuaded you of this case, I do understand. Nobody pays for everything that they could pay for on the internet. But the media has to find a way of making this work at somewhere other than the lowest common denominator and at places other than those already owned by powerful media barons. Should I fall flat on my face over this, I hope that somebody else does make it a possibility. But ultimately I have no say in the matter, because the decision will be taken by you guys. I hope that you believe that we’ll be worth a small amount of investment, because I sincerely believe that we will be.

You can become a patron of Twohundredpercent by going here. You’ll get a very lavish thank you, and the promise that I will do my utmost to make this place the absolute best that it can be. Thanks for reading.