Why I’m switching from Tinyletter to Substack

New year, new platform.

Travis Yewell / Unsplash

So, friends, we come to the end of the side. On Sunday I sent out my last Tinyletter.

I started my weekly newsletter, Mixtape, in January 2016 with a simple promise: subscribe and I’ll send you a new hand curated ten track playlist each week, with a Spotify link. After 103 editions over the last two years, my little newsletter has grown to over 1000 subscribers. It’s been great fun, and I’ve enjoyed sharing music with friends and strangers alike. But it’s time for a change. Mixtape and I are moving to a new home. Next Sunday I’ll be sending out the first newsletter of the new era on a platform called Substack.

Substack is a newsletter startup that supports creators by allowing you to charge subscriptions. They have already signed up writers like Mallory Ortberg, Helena Fitzgerald, and Caroline Crampton, and in the changing landscape of internet publishing I think their proposition is a good one, versus platforms like Patreon or Ko-Fi. I’m not switching to Substack in an effort to get rich — my subscriber base is modest and there will be a drop off in numbers — but because I enjoy the newsletter and I’d like to keep doing it.

Since I started Mixtape my circumstances have changed — I had a novel accepted for publication. I quit my job and went freelance. I put a lot of hours into Mixtape each week. From selecting tracks, making artwork, and writing liner notes, it can be 10 or more hours a week, which has thus far been unpaid. As a freelancer/starving artist, I need to prioritise paying work. Over the last few months I’ve come close to shuttering Mixtape altogether as it became hard to justify the effort, even though it brings me a lot of joy as a hobby. I considered other options, but nothing seemed to make sense.

When I got an email from Substack, explaining their propositon and inviting me to try their new platform, it was just the thing I was looking for.

I know not everyone will wish to subscribe, and some won’t be able to afford to, which is why I’m keeping a free tier: I’ll send out a free playlist once a month to all subscribers. But there is also the option to get the regular weekly newsletter: Subscriptions are just $5 a month, or $50 a year. You can subscribe here. I think that represents a fair deal for everyone.

I’m also going to expand the guest mixtapes, inviting more cool people to come and make playlists for for my subscribers, with in-depth interviews about their choices, and the music they love. I’m also adding a few more perks for subscribers, including regular ‘track of the week’ updates, and more detailed liner notes with each playlist.

If you’re interested in Mixtape, you can read more about why I started the newsletter, and listen to some of my archive. If you want to try it out, you can subscribe for free, or take the plunge and start a paid subscription. The link for both is here. Substack uses Stripe for payments, which is very simple and secure. You can do that at anytime to start receiving weekly Mixtapes.

So yes, it’s the end of the side. It’s time to turn the record over, drop the needle, and enjoy. Side B has plenty of tunes and good times yet to come.

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