Facing The Music: We Need You To Subscribe To The Quietus

We’ve recently had to strip back what the Quietus does, closing down our film and arts sections and have reluctantly put our books section on ice. In order to protect our music coverage we need at least another 350 people to subscribe to the site, says editor John Doran, but just look at what you get in return…

We have recently had to cut back what the Quietus does, closing down our film and arts section and placing our books section on ice. In order to protect the rest of what we do, we need 350 new subscribers. This is a tiny fraction of the millions who read the site annually, but those who sign up will save this site, securing its short to medium term future, allowing us to cover (and provide) the best music being produced today. We are party to the same violent forces which have closed countless magazines and websites over the last five years and which are currently threatening some of the biggest names in publishing worldwide.

It has never been cheaper to become part of the Quietus Low Culture community and you get more than ever for your money. To find out more, click here.

For the next six weeks** we’re offering reductions of over a third on our top tier and over 10% on our middle tier.

The first thing to go during the pandemic was our office.

It was a blessed relief to be honest. By 2020, such were the financial problems the Quietus was facing due to the collapse of advertising, that I had started to visualise this website as a stricken plane, one of the engines clearly on fire and emitting a frightening amount of black smoke, skimming precariously over a vast mountain range, nearly clipping the occasional peak. In brutal terms, the question seemed to be – what can we throw out of the door in order to reduce our weight so we don’t fly screaming into unforgiving vertical granite? “Luke, why are you gripping the door frame so tightly with a worried look on your face?!” In reality, we didn’t have much we could afford to lose – but the office made sense. I’d already beaten a retreat from London, my home for 25 years, to rural Wiltshire in an attempt to keep my living costs down and Luke was beginning his own outwards trek towards Essex and family life. It was time to cut our last ties to us pretending to be something we weren’t.

When we launched as an independent online magazine nearly 15 years ago, we both felt it was important to present a – completely false – image of ourselves as a successful, powerful, well-funded organ. We figured that no one would take us seriously if we didn’t have an office, so we initially pretended that we had one.

We wrote all morning, all afternoon, all evening and, sometimes, all night long. Always powered by coffee, but sometimes also by some slightly stronger fuel. We published the amount of work – often under a dizzying array of made up names – that we felt a successful, powerful, well-funded magazine would publish. We muscled our way into local, then national and then international conversations about culture; at first, this was admittedly done with more energy than expertise or planning, but we were always, unceasingly, learning on the job. We acted bullishly, as if everything depended on this… because, ultimately, it did.

But there was no hi-tech office full of staff playing table football, brainstorming in the imaginarium or riding round on little plastic tractors, there was just Luke and I sat at the rickety kitchen table of my flat share in Manor House, hearts soaring after a pint of espresso each. And then before long, a good pal Chris offered us use of a tiny table in his garret offices in East London from which he wrote smartphone apps. And from that miniscule hectarage, our fingers banging down furiously and deafeningly on shitty spring loaded DELL keyboards, our vaporous subterfuge gradually solidified into actual reality. That is to say, we never graduated to a nice office with a full complement of staff and we never will, unless one of us wins the Lottery, but from an origin point of cos-playing what we felt an important voice in the cultural ecosystem would sound like, we actually became one; providing a platform for and a context to innumerable bands, producers, writers and artists all but ignored by an increasingly conservative mainstream digital marketplace.

I treasure those first dawning realisations that we weren’t on our own, that we were actually part of a network of independent folk all with similar feelings and aims – small record and tape labels; cool venues; other magazines, papers and websites, who believed just as strongly in the culture they were supporting.

Looking back to 2020 and the mad panic to keep tQ going while so many of those very same magazines, weeklies and websites; so many of those record and tape labels; and so many of those cool venues were closing up shop or downscaling massively, I can see clearly now that getting rid of the office wasn’t the thing that saved us. What saved us then – and will save us again now – was Luke and I trusting our instincts that it was time for us to collaborate more directly with you, our readers.

Setting up a subscriber model early Autumn 2020 saved this site and for that I want to thank you.

We felt that it was important to match the money you gave us with good quality tangible perks, which is why we split the subs up into three streams. The £5 a month cover price – approximately half the cost of a UK monthly music magazine, for twice the amount of writing – gets you the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping us stay airborne. The middle, Low Culture tier costs £9 a month and gives you the same lovely glow but with amazing perks. When you sign up to this you get the equivalent of one excellent perk a week. Every month there is a new podcast featuring Luke and I discussing the culture that we all love – whether that’s our favourite albums by The Cure, the Joe Orton biopic Prick Up Your Ears or El Tren Fantasma by Chris Watson. And as soon as you sign up you get immediate access to our podcast library featuring the likes of Shirley Collins talking about O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Tariq Goddard on Sisters Of Mercy’s Floodland and Nicky Wire on Echo And The Bunnymen. You also get access to our now scores deep archive of Low Culture essays featuring some of the best writers currently putting pen to paper. In fact the first piece we commissioned for this series was written by Darran Anderson who has recently been awarded the £140,000 Windham-Campbell Prize for his excellent writing. Other recent essays have included Megan Nolan on her love for Billy Joel, Adelle Stripe on Julian Cope and Stephanie Phillips on PJ Harvey. And that’s not to mention the hours and hours worth of playlists we produce for our Low Culture friends and the modern guide to record shopping which is the Organic Intelligence newsletter.

But what I really want to talk to you about today is the top, Sound & Vision tier, which costs just £12.50* a month, a reduction of 37.5%…

When you take out a Sound & Vision subscription with us, you get it all: the warm glow, the great writing, the amazing playlists, music recommendations, the newsletters… but then each month you also get original music on top of that. And it is through this tier that we now see ourselves fitting into a much wider, more inclusive, international community of independent, underground cultural producers; no longer in naive terms of physical proximity but in the practical and dynamic way we offer our support and connect with them digitally. And when you take out a top tier sub to this site, you automatically become part of this community as well. Not only does your money help to keep this site operational but, along with very generous support from our Sound And Vision backers at state51, it also goes directly into commissioning amazing, original, groundbreaking music that never would have existed if it were not for you. So on behalf of all of the musicians, singers, producers, engineers, lathe operators, artists, designers, mixer/masterers, writers and photographers working in a highly vulnerable zone who benefit directly from your input, we’d like to say thank you.

And to those who can afford to, please take out a subscription. Subscription money is by far and away our biggest source of income and we would close instantaneously without it, yet only a tiny fraction of our readers subscribe. We currently have 900 subscribers. We need 1,250 to have any kind of future. More people are now reading the Quietus than at any other point in the last five years; in fact our readership and the number of articles read, both went up by a quarter since this time last year… a phenomenal leap, for which we’re really grateful, but this needs to be met by a similar increase in people subscribing.

Over the coming weeks we’re going to be looking more closely at our relationship with progressive label/distributors state51 and we’re going to reflect on all of the amazing music we’ve commissioned so far, so I won’t labour the point (too much more) here.

But in short, the list of artists that we’ve given subscribers free music by includes Sleaford Mods, Godflesh, GNOD, VÄLVĒ, Alexander Tucker (MICROCORPS), Nik Void (Factory Floor), Better Corners (Wire/Thurston Moore), Alison Cotton, Shit & Shine, Roger Robinson, Richard Skelton, Siavash Amini, Matmos, Teleplasmiste, 75 Dollar Bill, Ghold, Jo Bevan (Desperate Journalist), Hey Colossus, Vanishing Twin, Wacław Zimpel and UKAEA. And that’s not to mention an incredible new series focusing on exciting electronic music producers and a special release for our 15th birthday already way past the planning stages.

Thanks for reading and please, please, please consider taking out a subscription. We only need another 350 people out of the millions who read us annually worldwide to chip in to secure our future for at least the next year or so.

*All of these prices are the cost when the subscription is paid for annually rather than on a monthly basis. It costs fractionally more to pay on a monthly basis

**The discount runs from 11am GMT Thursday 20 April until 11.59pm GMT Monday 5 June

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