Upgrade your Medium
I’d like you to be among the first to become a Medium member, a new subscription program we’re launching today to a limited number of people. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be rolling it out to everyone, but for now, this post is unlisted, and we’re only inviting those who meet certain criteria to sign up.
In this post, I want to take you behind the scenes and share our thinking on membership, so you can join us on this journey from day one.
First, the basics: Medium will remain the best place to share ideas that matter and to find independent voices and fresh perspectives — for free. For members, it will get better. For $5 per month (introductory price), you’ll get two upgraded aspects:
A better reading experience: We’ve been working on a whole new reading experience, which I’m excited for you to see. It’s based on the premise that, instead of yet another never-ending feed, people would be much happier with a limited set of carefully curated stories, chosen by experts among topics we care about. Something that is completable, satisfying, and puts you in control. If you read Medium regularly, I think you’ll find this new feature set more than worth the subscription. (And if you don’t read Medium regularly, with this, you soon will.)
While the complete new experience is still under development, as a member you’ll get early access to everything, as well as some exclusive features.
Even better content: We will be routing 100% of the revenue from founding members (those who sign up in the first few months) to writers and independent publishers who have important work to do. Those who have hard-won expertise, do exhaustive research, and think deeply. Those who make us all smarter. Those who maximize our understanding of the world but don’t necessarily maximize clicks — and, therefore, are at a disadvantage amongst the highly optimized algorithm chum being slung by the truckload by low-cost content purveyors.
This is the real point of Medium membership. And this is where I’m going to get a little bit on my high horse, because I know you’re with me.
Media is broken. And we need to fix it.
I’m super passionate about this. Though we’ve changed our approach recently, this has been Medium’s mission from day one. We saw the feedback loops for publishing content to be a major problem, and we set out to build a new model. We’ve come a long way since — establishing ourselves as the platform for thoughtfulness, depth, and insight from independent thinkers. But the greater challenge — changing the incentives that drive our consumption of media online — has become even more pressing. It’s time to double-down.
I speak to many publishers and media organizations who are doing important work, but still find themselves trapped in a system that incentivizes the wrong behaviors. It’s time to establish a real solution to the distorted feedback loops that cause misinformation, noisy feeds, and a general lack of understanding. All of this is pushing our society to become more insular, close-minded, and unscientific, despite living in the most powerful information revolution of all time.
But how does this lead to you paying Medium $5 a month?
It’s simple. Corporate advertising budgets become the primary funders of our information providers. No matter how skilled or well-intentioned, ad-driven publishers are rewarded on their ability to capture attention and even, at times, to weave a particular corporate-driven narrative. Not to provide informed perspectives, be thorough, or even be factually correct. But to capture attention. As cheaply as possible. For a few fleeting seconds. Click, click, scroll…
There is no way to fix this dynamic until we demand better — and decide to pay for it. We need a system that funds stories and ideas not just based on their ability to attract attention, but on their value to readers. This is the system that Medium is building, and as a founding member, you’ll get to help tell us what’s most valuable and how we spend that money.
This feedback cycle will start small. Most of what you enjoy on Medium will be the same great stuff you’re used to — from an array of publishers and individual writers who are funding their efforts in a variety of ways. In addition, you’ll start seeing stories — some exclusively for members — funded via our Medium Partner Program.
Through this partner program, which we’re also kicking off today, we’ll be working with independent writers and publishers to fund stories you wouldn’t otherwise see — on Medium or, likely, anywhere else. That’s the goal of creating a new economic model for content — to enable the creation of even better work. We’re planning to accept a limited set of contributors to start, and we’re particularly looking for those with expertise in key topic areas. (If that sounds like you, read more and apply here.) Over time, we plan to open up new revenue opportunities for as many creators as possible.
Can we really make a difference?
Yes, Medium is one small player. But with you, we are a team. That team already includes many of the most knowledgeable thinkers, reporters, and writers on the planet — thousands of whom would no doubt love to spend a lot more time doing deep work, if they could afford to. Work that elucidates, illuminates, and matters. And isn’t that what you want to spend your time reading?
Let’s stop relying on ad buyers and social media echo chambers to determine what we put in our brains — which is just as important, or more so, than what we put in our bodies. Spend $5 a month and start taking control. Start demanding — and paying for — expertise, knowledge, and true insight.
Join us. Join us early, and help us figure it out. We’d love your feedback and support.