MacStories launches new paid membership programs/Discord server/exclusive content

MacStories has launched a new set of paid plans for a variety of new offerings:

The previous Club MacStories subscription continues to be available, but they’ve added $10/month and $12/month plans with more exclusive content and community-based activities. The content includes a new show/community focused on automation tools and another one focused on macOS. All of it is anchored to a Discord server and a new CMS custom-built for MacStories.

I can’t justify spending $10/month to fail to participate in another community, but it may interest other Apple power users.


More broadly: damn, did Seth Godin ever get it right. Paywalled, focused communities seem to be the way of the future.:tm: I don’t know if I like it, but I don’t think there’s anything to be done about it.

There is a bit of a catch-22 in the MacStories announcement. Federico and crew have done this work to make more of their content available on the web and via RSS, which is awesome. However, paywalling it means it won’t be part of the public web, which—to me, anyway—should be the whole point.

At the same time, marketing and advertising is no way to run a 21st century business, so this business model seems both inevitable and effective. It does look like good value if you’re able to buy in with both money and with the time and attention it will require to participate.

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Tribes! I remember being part of Seth’s Xing(?) community around the time of that book. Too bad Facebook won that corner of social media, for awhile, anyway.

I have to say something about the tiers of this is confusing, I think in service of making sure existing subscribers feel secure, so understandably. Partway through reading I was wondering if there were two MacStories podcasts (there’s just one, AppStories.) The Discord being a major benefit is interesting; I’m definitely unmoved by the zeitgeist there but I’m glad people are into it (same for Relay’s.) Intrigued by John’s desktop column.

I am sure I’ll at least give it a month to check out the custom CMS and see if I can get hooked as well as see what I’ve missed in all these back catalogs. I get excited when other people are excited about the web apps they built. We need more of that.

Glad you posted this.

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I have reread the options repeatedly and I’m still not totally confident I understand, especially between Club MacStories+ and Club MacStories Premier.

I think you pay an extra $2/month from Club MacStories + to get AppStories+ (the extended version of the AppStories podcast) and searchable show notes for AppStories+? That’s all, though. There’s something called the “ultimate Club experience,” but that just sounds like promo speak, heh.

It would definitely be better if they showed the features in a classic table format…

With all respect, I can’t imagine anyone paying any money – let alone this much money – for this type of content.

But hey, I’m also not interested in a 25 page review of iPadOS 15.1.2.

Which, if anything, proves that I’m not their target audience.

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I also can’t fathom why someone would want to read the OS reviews in full, unless they’re an Apple staffer or commentator. But I think that’s the thing: they do provide an important critical journalistic function in the Apple ecosystem. Apple Execs read them, or at least it appears so from the interviews I’ve seen.

The reviews have occasionally proven useful to me, however, in looking up how specific features work.

Otherwise, in theory, I’d rather pay for content like this than be advertised to. (In practice I just feel a little bad for using content blockers…)

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I stopped subscribing to MacStories some time ago.
The reviews / info aren’t aimed at or related to those in a more traditional job roles or neck deep in pkm.

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I just two weeks ago renewed my MacStories subscription, only to receive news this week that the service has been relaunched. Nothing in the new features entices me to upgrade – I have enough forums and podcast options already – and I wonder if perhaps the features I get with what just became the lowest tier will be diminished somehow as time goes on, despite the disclaimers. Discord channels sometimes feel like non-stop shouting matches in a stadium, where only the cleverest questions and comments rise to the top.

I’m striking my comment because I think it is unfair. See below.

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ONLY if it’s included as part of Setapp.

I’m not writing a thesis on iOS or iPadOS nor writing a certification exam for the same.

MacStories produces excellent articles. I enjoy the in-depth reviews, and given the increasing lack of discoverability (unavoidable to some extent, at least on iOS and iPadOS), there are a number of features I’d never know about without Federico and his crew.

That said, I found myself reading less (and unsubscribed) as it got more focused on iOS and iPadOS, and less focused on the Mac in its name. I gather that may have changed, but in the meantime I find this forum and Automators mostly fills the gap. I’m much less interested in “breaking” news about the apple ecosystem.

Which makes me wonder about the utility of members-only discord channels and so on. Content takes time, effort and resources to produce. I understand (and support) paying for them. making Discord channels and forums a paid extra seems like monetizing your reader/viewer/user/fan base.

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Worth noting that one of the features of Club MacStories+ is a column from John Voorhees focused on the Mac (“The Macintosh Desktop Experience”).

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I do.

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I read all the MacStories reviews, and always look forward to and enjoy the Friday emails with their in-depth discussions of new or favorite apps of the authors. It is interesting to read about things I’ve never heard or, or might not even use. Of course, tech is my career. The tone is always balanced: when John or one of the others is enthusiastic it is well-reasoned, with explanations, and not off-putting.

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100% agree. I imagine many other people will realize this too.

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That may be, but I’m not sure why that’s a bad thing.

Isn’t monetizing your ‘fan base’ the only alternative to relying on ads?

(Sincere question, I may be missing some nuance or some such.)

When it comes to forums and Discords, having it limited to paid subscribers is also an effective tool for troll-prevention and moderation. You’re a lot less likely to have people come in just to be a PITA or whatever if they’ve paid money to be there and can lose access if their behavior gets them kicked out.

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In my opinion, these prices for the services being offered are closer to exploiting the fan base.

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For any membership program like this, I don’t look at it as “I’m paying $X for exclusive content Y”. I look at it as “I like all of the content this creator produces, both for free and exclusively available for members and I want it to continue.”

For instance, I’m not paying $5 per month for More Power Users just for a few minutes of extra content each week. I’m making my tiny contribution to the continued existence of the podcast and this forum. The extra content is just gravy.

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I saw the news as well this week and to @ryanjamurphy point, I can’t fathom upgrading my plan at all. The Discord community is enticing, but I just can’t justify for it myself. Getting extended podcasts isn’t a selling point for me. Life has been super hectic the last several months, I am barely able to listen to a single podcast episode in full (just partials at this point). What I found odd was that the comment of making their newsletters searchable because they sit in the archive on their website and can’t be searched. While the thought is good, but as for me, am I really the only one who downloads the newsletter into PDF each week and then puts it into DevonThink, which then makes it searchable?

Just my opinion, but I wish them the best, I do look forward to the weekly newsletter. It helps inspire me for different ideas

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What do you get out of them? Maybe I will be compelled to read the next one top to bottom.

(I don’t chagrin it, obviously—do whatever you want with your time! I appreciate that people can both write and read this much about an OS update. I probably would, too, if I didn’t feel like an expert on the details thanks to all the coverage that comes out over the summer.)

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I find them useful guides to new features in the new version of the OS. I don’t run the betas, so by the time an update hits my iPhone or iPad it’s been a looong time since WWDC. If a feature hasn’t been generating a lot of news over the summer I’ve probably forgotten about it. Not to mention that Federico generally goes into more depth than the keynote and gives his opinions on how these features might (or might not) be useful from a power user perspective. I find it very helpful in separating the new iOS features I want to dig into myself from those that I’m not that interested in.

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Ah, I see. I definitely understand the feeling, even if I don’t share it. Obviously everyone has their own price point.

I’m wearing a T-Shirt from The Rebound and have several others (including MPU), and I subscribe to several websites and podcasts. I guess I’m fortunate to be able to do so, and I’m willing to, but realize not everyone is in the same situation or feels the same way.

Personally, I do it to support the creators more than “Getting Something for SomeNumberOfDollars” - to use the old analogy, you don’t support PBS because you’re getting a good price on a tote bag, you’re getting a tote-bag as a “thank you” for supporting them. Except now you’re getting a Discord, etc.

The thing that I like more about the Relay.fm offerings is that all of the podcasts have added bonus content, whereas I think an argument could be made that a lot of MacStories content would have been free (articles and so forth). On the other hand, if they weren’t making money through the site so that they couldn’t do it full-time, then maybe they couldn’t have written those articles.

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