Cellos, weed, and content management systems.
Greetings from New York City, where we’ve managed to keep (most of) our succulents alive despite the single-digit temperatures (okay, that was one day, but it scarred us) and we’re drinking plenty of mulled wine to 1. keep warm and 2. pretend we’re in some sort of idyllic European festive market and not an office.
Our succulents’ continued existence isn’t the only exciting thing happening over at LHCHQ. We moved into a bigger office, and Charlie is especially loving the extra roaming space. We also have a new hire! Tallie Gabriel has joined us from Contently, and she’ll be helping with social media, blog posts, and anything else we throw her way. She doesn't own a dog, but she IS a cellist in a super cool band, so while our canine population is flat, our hipster credibility is up like 100x.
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On to the #content:
Mediapocalypse now (but maybe less so, later)
If you're not following Kyle Chayka, you're missing out on one of the more perceptive voices about the modern media landscape; a writer who understands better than most the invisible digital hands that shape what we read, what we listen to, and by extension how we think.
When we last checked in, he was writing about the tyranny of algorithms; and most recently he's written a long-form story about Content Management Systems (CMS), which is somehow not only fascinating and perceptive, but also a well timed look at a media industry that's just undergone another painful round of layoffs driven by the increasing obsolescence of its ad-based business model.
To be overly reductive: digital advertising increasingly takes place on Google and Facebook, which makes things very hard on media outlets that rely on ad revenue. And you know shits real when AOC is weighing in:
But as Chayka writes, some media companies have been making strides towards alternative business models that are less dependent on ad revenue: subscriptions, affiliate campaigns, and crucially, content management systems:
"(If) the largest digital-media companies can become software providers, then they’ll be well-positioned to ride out the death of print, the bursting of the new-media bubble that claimed companies like Mic, and the inevitable plateauing of social networks as user growth stagnates."
This won't help everyone, and certainly is cold comfort to the people who just lost their jobs, but as businesses from grocery stores to cell phone makers move to subscription software models, existing and new digital media companies would do well to take note.
Things are happening
In the department of ideas we definitely had while high: a series of artfully crafted glossy magazines about weed. The NYT has the story of how Gossamer, Broccoli, and Miss Grass are finally ready to give the tried and true stoner bro stylings of High Times some competition.
Our good buddy Jordan Teicher at Contently has finally figured out how to write about advanced metrics in basketball in the context of content marketing. Extra points for slipping a reference to his own suspect jump shot.
As mentioned above, last week was not a great one for the media industry, as Verizon Media Group and Buzzfeed laid off 7 and 15% of their workforces respectively — in total nearly 1,000 people.
Marie Kondo is inspiring parents into cringeworthy dad jokes on Twitter.
Netflix hiked its prices. In return, Hulu got cheaper. Most likely it all has something to do with those dueling Fyre Festival documentaries, though at press time Ja Rule could not be reached for comment.
Competitive virtual farming is getting its own Esports league. It’s about time!!
The New York Times’ “Overlooked”—a section that goes back to the obituaries of people that didn’t originally make the white male-dominated Times obits—gave us a look at circus tiger trainer Mabel Stark, also known as “Tiger Girl” and “Crazy Mabel.” She’s a certified badass and we loved learning her story.
What We're Listening To
The Milk Carton Kids’ latest album, All The Things That I Did and All The Things That I Didn’t Do is giving us all of the cold January winter feels. Our latest hire is also a folk music maniac and may or may not be writing this part of the newsletter, so there’s also that. She thinks you’ll like it regardless, so give it a listen here.