Business models more promising than local subscriptions

Peter A. McKay
Nov 7, 2019 · 2 min read
Image by Amador Loureiro via Unsplash

I feel like a palate cleanser is in order after my rant yesterday about digital paywalls for local news. On a more hopeful note, here are some alternatives I see as more promising:

  • Paid events. Local publishers have connections to their communities that tech giants don’t. Why not leverage that advantage to bring people together in physical space?
  • E-Commerce. A risky one since it flies in the face of the mighty Amazon. But, again, maybe there’s room to leverage local knowledge, since neighborhood merchants aren’t exactly fond of the House that Bezos Built either. Why not provide a real solution to them, become the new hub of a truly local economy, and capture some revenue as a more benevolent middleman?
  • Memberships. A first cousin to subscriptions, but at least the sales pitch for memberships sidesteps the notion that the customer is paying straight-up for the content. With that out of the way, there may be greater flexibility on pricing, as well as incentive to throw in value-adds for the members. Could overlap neatly with members-only events, for instance.
  • Blockchain. This one isn’t really a revenue stream per se, but more of a modal change to their business that locals could embrace. Any of the above models, or many others, could potentially be made more robust through tokenization. There are also existing experiments and products in this area, like Brave, MakerDAO, and Civil, that more local publishers could probably benefit from implementing.

Mind you, I don’t think any of the above options are slam dunks. Solving the local publishing problem is hard, admittedly. But at least the upside of the above options is actually untested for the most part, unlike local subscriptions.

Again, we’re all just pretending that idea is a revelation in 2019 even though it’s already been failing for two decades straight. Why not try something that’s actually new to the industry?

If you’re a publisher interested in exploring non-subscription models more seriously, I’m glad to chat anytime via Twitter or email peter[at] Thanks for spending some time with Indizr today. For regular updates about Web 3.0, subscribe to our email newsletter.

Peter A. McKay

Written by

Consultant and writer focused on Web 3.0. Former award-winning reporter for WSJ, Washington Post, and Vice. Sometime founder and product manager as well.



Indizr is all about Web 3.0, defined loosely as anything that supports decentralization of people’s digital information. Our goal is to spread awareness and understanding of such tech widely, among everyone from geeks to rank newbies.

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