To be honest, I feel a bit responsible here. I mean, what I have been doing for the better part of fifteen years is what you normally would have only found in print, for a price, and never for free. You also would have only very limited access to content, since, well.....print takes a long time to produce. The format is akin home cooking- it's almost always better than fast food, but who has the time and the know-how to do it? Plus, we could be eating this now and that later without the hassles. I have a new post every day. You didn't even get that with newspapers. Magazines? Yeah..... See ya in 28 days. Maybe more.
More is better, or so some think. 24-7 access is cool. Websites clamor to be 'first' with the latest news and reviews. Advertising was cheaper on digital media, (not sure about nowadays), and so brands and marketers went with the least expensive options. Then along came 'influencers' and brands found ways to get the word out about their stuff without fears of negative reviews and without having to pay advertising fees. Suddenly professional writers and photographers were out of jobs. Big corporate holding companies bought up floundering mag titles and liquidated, or outright shutdown everything but the bones of the operations. "Bike" reportedly had four employees at the time of its shutdown. Word was that COVID had something to do with it. Look for that 'excuse' to get well-worn as we approach 2021.
Andy and I were bouncing ideas off each other regarding monetizing content for RidingGravel.com or on some other platform. I told him it would all hinge on an advertising revenue, or a direct subscription based format, like Patreon, but that it wuld be a hard road since most folks see what I do as being 'free' so why pay? Plus, when there are others in the same space doing everything free, how do you rise above and give value enough to the point that people would be willing to have monthly withdrawals on their credit card to support you?
And the effort you would have to put in would be immense. That's really what it boils down to. If I am willing to go all in, quit my job, and sacrifice personal and family time, yeah....maybe then it would work. But that's a steep price to pay. In my mind, that's what it would take though.
Also something else to consider is the unimaginable amount of information overload that is already at our fingertips. Do we really need more? It's kind of like gluttony, or pollution. All this information. Maybe we need to take the nearest exit off the super-highway and find a nice, quiet dirt road.
But back to the print mags and "Bike" magazine in particular. I recall my friend Will Ritchie telling me that he left WTB to take an opportunity with "Bike" when it came up to him as an option several years ago. He told me it was his 'dream job', (an example of his work can be seen here), and then later corporate cuts left him on the outside looking in, and now the final death blow has seemingly been rendered. I cannot imagine the pain Will must feel over this, not to mention the rest of that crew's feelings. My heart goes out to those folks.
Is print dead? Maybe. They said Kindle would kill the bookstores and books would be obsolete, yet the darn things are still being sold at book stores, of all things. Print magazines are also not "dead", but the traditional model isn't working either. In my wildest dreams I don't see magazines going away, but something has to change for the platform to work. And maybe that's going artisanal or bi-yearly, or some form of mixed media like YouTube and print. Hard to say. I do know that I support a guitar based publication called the "Fretboard Journal" by subscribing to their magazine and by listening to their podcasts. I also am a Patreon supporter of one of the podcasts. Maybe this is the way forward for print media.
I don't have the answers, but one thing is for sure- media and how we consume it will be changing and ten years from now, who knows how it will look? I know that back fifteen years ago it sure looked a whole lot different than it does now. I've got a lot more to say about this subject, but that will have to wait for another day. These are just my jumbled thoughts on the subject as it relates to cycling.
Thanks for reading.