We are now one year into our paid membership offering and, thanks to all of you who have signed up, I can write that Stereogum’s new independent era is a success. We are a success by virtue of the fact that we still exist! You are no doubt aware that dozens of publications both big and small have shut down this year. Between the dismal advertising climate, unreliable social media traffic, and other factors, it’s extremely difficult for an online magazine to stay afloat. But our readership is larger than it has ever been and thanks to Membership we’re on the right track to sustainability.

Crucially, as an independent music site we get to run things the way we want. I don’t just mean publishing interviews with obscure hardcore bands and reviewing jazz box sets, though that’s part of it. We provide competitive salaries, benefits, and vacation time for our staff. We pay all freelance writers within one week of their invoice. We block entire ad categories, such as military recruitment and get rich quick schemes, that we don’t want to promote. We don’t measure an article’s success by its traffic and we don’t pay close attention to those numbers anyway. We don’t “experiment with AI-generated content.”

Stereogum has two tiers of paid membership. The $5/month standard Membership gets you perks like an invite to the delightful Stereogum Discord, exclusive articles and playlists, and access to the site’s pre-2013 archives. The $10/month VIP Membership gets you all that plus a trophy next to all of your comments and ad-free viewing.

I know our ad experience has been brutal lately. I am on this site more than anyone, and I would love to reduce the ad density and disable some of the more obtrusive formats. We simply cannot afford to. Not yet, anyway. Over 90% of our revenue still comes from advertising so we have a ways to go before we are as reader-supported financially as we need to be. But there are some changes beginning today that will hopefully nudge things along.

The first thing is that The Number Ones, which has been publishing three times a week, will now publish once a week (Mondays). We need to relax the burden on both Tom and the writers covering news while he’s doing research for the column. This change is also helpful because TNOs has already reached 2010 and we want to slow the pace so we don’t run into modern day too soon. But! We’re carving out time for Tom to write a brand new auxiliary singles column. Starting this Wednesday, in addition to The Number Ones, every week he will review the #1 songs from Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart (aka Modern Rock Tracks from 1988-2009) in chronological order. We’ll probably end the series when we reach 2020, which was when the chart splintered into Hot Alternative Songs and Alternative Airplay. The Alternative Number Ones will be Members Only.

Our paying members deserve more regular exclusive articles so that column will be for them. Additionally, Shut Up, Dude: This Week’s Best Comments will now be Members Only. Because of changes our commenting software OpenWeb made to its API, it takes me forever to build this countdown I’ve been doing every Friday since 2011. As The Alternative Number Ones is a brand new thing and Shut Up, Dude is mainly for our active community members, I think they’re two reasonable things to paywall. I see a lot of blogs that have paywalled the ability to comment entirely, but that’s something I’m trying to avoid.

Along with this news comes a sale (our first, so these don’t happen often) for new signups to annual VIP membership. VIP usually costs $110/year, but beginning now through 7/9 you can use coupon code INDEPENDENCEDAY for 10% off. So $99 for your first year of ad-free viewing, access to all our articles, and all the other perks. Alternatively (heh) you can sign up for standard Membership for access to all paywalled content, but that’s not on sale this week. If you’re already a Member and feel left out, our merch stand is over here.

In case in doesn’t go without saying, additional reader support will mean we can hire more writers, throw more concerts, produce more original videos, etc. We’ve had a bunch of unexpected technical and financial challenges this year, and I won’t get into all of them, but I will tell you we wouldn’t even want to be around (anymore) if it wasn’t for our awesome community. We don’t take any of this for granted. I hope all the Members enjoy their new column — more will come — and thanks to everyone who has supported us.