For the past ten years, when anyone has asked us about going into a subscription model, we have proudly said that it’s not something we need, have, or want to do because the Brand New Conference has been a way of monetizing the blog since the audience for that conference lives here so the effort and time spent on the blog pays off in the form of conference attendance. In the past two years, this nice feeling of being able to keep Brand New free was enhanced by the introduction of First Round, which gave us another source of income. This was going so well that, as some of you know, our business plan for 2020 revolved around nine in-person events which are not happening anymore and, to be honest, for the first time in months we are questioning if they will happen at all… ever again.
We still have a sliver of hope — because there is literally nothing we love to do more — that we will be able to do our 2020 events in 2021 and that we will be able to get back on track with in-person events as our main source of income but, from the tone of this post, you might be able to gather that we are not fully optimistic of that.
Two bucks a month or twenty dollars a year for one of the best branding and design resources around is shockingly cheap as far as I’m concerned. The bad news is that it’s a hard paywall, not a metered one — as of Monday next week, non-subscribers will only see the before and after image. The good news is that those who really cannot afford a subscription can request a free account.
I suppose the other bad news is that this is another nail in the coffin for the expectations of a free — as in beer — and discoverable web. If you’re a student or you’re just casually interested in design, you’re now either committed to paying for Brand New or it’s off-limits. It’s almost like the web is now part of the real world or something. It would be cool if the web were more like a library; but, of course, physical libraries themselves are seen as radical and potentially unviable in the current financialized climate.