It’s mid-November 2020, and if you’ve been paying close attention to New Feeling, you may be expecting a new issue on your digital doorstep. We’ve published two issues, Renewal and The Fear, on a monthly schedule, in line with our original intention to release a dozen issues in a calendar year. However, after some internal discussion and feedback from our community, we’ve decided to publish our third and final issue of 2020 in mid-December and pause any further publishing or solicitation of pitches going forward until we can sort out funding or a revenue stream.
We are in the midst of developing a long-term plan that allows us to properly compensate our membership, freelance writers, and any other work we contract out. New Feeling has been and continues to be an entirely volunteer-run organization, with no financial backing or revenue stream, but this was never intended to be our model for very long. We had originally opened up pitches for freelancers with an eye to providing people interested in joining the co-op but unable to help organize with a track toward membership and the collective ownership that comes with it. However, we now see that calling for freelance writers without compensation, however well-intentioned, was not in line with our values and mandate as a cooperative. In fact, it served to reinforce the structures of power that impede the progress of Canadian music media in the first place. The voluntary nature of our call led to an increased amount of pitches from predominantly white folks and did not reflect the representative writership needed of a truly equitable cooperative. We are also indebted to a community member who provided us with this valuable feedback and criticism as well as our steering committee for their reflections and input.
We’ve been trying to do something different with New Feeling, and our mandate has always been to work towards building a strong cooperative rooted in mutual respect, equity, and anti-oppressive principles. We have decided to shift our focus away from our editorial work for the time being to continue to challenge ourselves and strengthen our commitments to these principles.
We’re cognizant of and thinking through the ways in which a commitment to a regular publishing schedule has already influenced the decisions we make, and the areas in which this commitment has compelled us to compromise on what we value in order to publish within the time frame we’ve set for ourselves.
Stories have fallen through, sources have been delayed in ways that meant we’ve had to react quickly to meet our internal goals of both schedule and theme. This dynamic has led to members with the power and privilege of flexibility in their schedules, often those who are white and male, to take on more writing work. When we launched, the goal to publish monthly was one we set for ourselves that allowed and accounted for the amount of time our membership can contribute to a publication, and out of all of the rhythms established through organizing this co-op, it was perhaps the one we’ve fallen into the easiest.
But if the schedule is undermining our efforts to organize and publish in an equitable way, then it will change. What we’ve learned from this experience of publishing since September is informing how we move forward, because we’ve always intended for New Feeling to be flexible and responsive so that we can reinforce our commitment to providing equitable opportunities for our membership and publish the highest quality writing possible.
Going forward, we’ll be re-evaluating our publishing schedule in line with our budgetary needs to ensure what we publish is sustainable and doesn’t bind us to making decisions out of timeliness over decisions that are supportive of our members, writers and the subjects we tackle. We also know that offering compensation won’t do anything to shift the dynamic of writers reaching out to us alone— rather than waiting for them to come to us, we need to develop more intentional ways of connecting with new talent and voices.
Advertising-based revenue streams are symptomatic of the ecosystem that devalued our labour and a big part of what brought us all to developing New Feeling in the first place, so finding a model outside of that and one which works for us will take time but it is something we are committed to.
Developing New Feeling’s editorial arm has been exciting, but takes a high level of attention and care. At times, this has overshadowed the foundational work that needs to be done on the cooperative end. This includes the development of what ‘membership’ with New Feeling will look like, an important aspect of the cooperative model and a potential step towards financial sustainability. We’re also going to take this time to focus on the crucial work of developing the co-op and incorporating as a cooperative organization. We have decided to carry on with the release of our third issue because we are proud of its contents— and excited for you to read it!— and because it does not feature the labour of external freelancers.
We will be sure to provide updates on our progress via this website and on our social media.
We can’t thank everyone enough for their enthusiastic support for New Feeling’s editorial output. Seeing you engage with our writing, listening to the artists we’ve covered, and spreading the word about the cooperative has been a privilege. We’re excited to take this new direction and hope that you share in our enthusiasm for building something different.