a Saturday afternoon conversation about Collapse Board
This is an exchange that took place earlier today, between myself and an editor from another music website.
Does CB ever pay for content?
I wish. No. We have no money whatsoever.
Why do you think people contribute?
They enjoy the freedom of being able to write what they want: they think it’ll make a good reference on their CV: they’re attracted by my name; they find our rather haphazard iconoclastic approach to music criticism refreshing: they appreciate the pro-female stance; they appreciate the musical aesthetic; they view it as part of an ‘underground’ (that doesn’t really exist); for lesser-read bloggers it’s a chance to be read by a (slightly) larger audience; money isn’t the main motivating factor and never has been; they really enjoy the style and/or quality of writing on the site and are proud to feel included; sense of community; sense of independence; sense that at CB we might be able to change the established way of doing things; presentation; lack of interference on individual articles (though this varies from contributor to contributor); love of music; love of communication; appreciation of being given a platform that has credibility and weight immediately attached …. that, and a thousand other reasons. I think this question is actually more appropriate at sites that pay for content, but I am aware this puts me in a minority, certainly in Brisbane. If we paid, we’d probably end up with a bunch of half-arsed sub-standard contributions like most other places. (No disrespect to yourself intended, because I’m continually amazed at the quality of writing you attract.)
Also, and I haven’t properly examined this, but I think we have a way higher proportion of musicians-as-critics to non-musicians-as-critics than most places. I could be wrong.
Good response. I don’t know about paid contributors submitting worse content, though. It’s more that paid editors probably don’t want to rock the advertising boat. Get the right paid up contribs and they can be priceless. In fact, unpaid contribs can often be a nightmare/sub-standard. Do you knock stuff back?
You know, that’s the weirdest thing. You think we would, constantly. But no. It’s really, really rare. It’s almost as if folk operating on that sub-standard level are intimidated by us, or just so don’t understand what we’re trying to do that they genuinely believe it to be bollocks.
Of course you’re right about the right paid-up contribs. Of course. But that also applies to non paid-up contribs … you think they’d disappear elsewhere once they’ve established how good they are, but again this has only happened about once or twice during the first year of CB. Mostly, I suspect, it’s because the reasons these folk are at CB in the first place (and this has applied, to a lesser or greater degree, to both CTCL and Plan B Magazine) weren’t for the money, and so it genuinely isn’t a factor.
The money issue would be more problematic if CB carried ads – any ads at all – and thus was perceived to have money coming in, however little or much. If the contribs know that everyone is being treated equally then that’s fine … it’s when there’s a perceived inequality it becomes difficult. Plan B did pay a core team of staff a (barely) living wage to keep the magazine going, and paid its freelancers little or nothing … but we were always extremely upfront about the situation.
In my experience as a freelancer, as long as you’re informed of the situation in advance, that”s the main thing … because then you can make your own mind up.