Last month we hosted our first ever member Q&A for Community and Advisory members to learn a little bit more about what we’ve been up to, and to open the floor for any questions or concerns those members might have. Organizing members Katerina Stamadianos and Michael Rancic addressed and updated attendees on what we’ve been up to and our plans for the future. The session was recorded and you can hear it in its entirety above. We’ve also transcribed the Q&A so you can parse through the info at your own pace.
If you weren’t able to make the meeting, we’d still love to hear from you at your convenience. Especially on the following topics:
- Would you use/participate in a community Discord?
- Are there any organizations that you think we should reach out to and partner with?
If you have any thoughts or suggestions not covered in the recording above/transcript below, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject heading “October 2021 Member Q&A.” Thanks!
Katerina Stamadianos (00:01):
So we wanted to have this check in with everyone because we launched [memberships and subscriptions] about a month and a half ago now. And we are really looking to get our member activities into motion or to really like start off strong with our membership. But there are a couple of considerations that we have up in the air and a couple of things we wanted to update you on. Just because the membership is such a large part of what New Feeling is from our standpoint, but I don’t really think it’s quite public yet what we’re trying to do with it. And so this was an opportunity to introduce you to some of the things we have planned for members. As well as answer any questions you may have.
New Issue, budget, membership drive
Michael Rancic (01:52):
So last month we relaunched with a new issue and simultaneous membership drive. And for this new issue, we were fortunate enough to pay writers for their work. Thanks to a SOCAN grant of $1,000. The way that the grant works is that the money is sort of conditional on the production of the issue. So we will be reporting on it after the fact. So co-founders Leslie Ken Chu, Laura Stanley, and myself I’ll pooled funds to compensate the writers and artists for their work upfront, so that there wasn’t like this long wait time. We’ve never applied for this grant before. So we don’t really know how long it will take for a) for us to report on it. We’re aiming to report on it by next month, once things have kind of like wrapped up for the, the issue. And then b) we’re not sure how long it will take for us to hear back. So we didn’t want to leave people hanging. So all the writers and artists for that issue have been paid. And yeah, the reporting kind of involves us basically saying how the issue launch went how it fulfilled the goals that we proposed in our grant application and how it helped us launch our membership drive, which has sort of set us on a path to this financial sustainability that we’re aiming toward. So to that end, we’ve added about 20 some odd people to the co-op as community or advisory class members over the course of this month in a few days. So that’s really great. We, and that means that we’ve raised about $750 so far through this member drive. That said it was sort of like falling short right now of what our goal is, which is ideally hitting about 200 members to really sort of like reach the goal of being able to pay people a fair wage which we looked at, I think it would be about like 30 cents per word to sort of start, and then we can kind of grow it from there. And then we didn’t, we didn’t really know what to expect, like how long this sort of like membership drive action would take and how long it’s going to take us to, to sort of reach our goals.
So yeah there was a bit of a hiccup early on with our payment gateway. Oh yeah, so I’m the team lead of the budget working group. So that’s something that I directly oversee. And there were some sort of unexpected issues with that in terms of when we basically we’re doing all of our membership coordination through a plugin that we added to our WordPress site and that plugin works very nicely with different payment gateways. But what we didn’t really realize at the time was that in order for subscriptions to work with PayPal you need to have a PayPal account. So everyone at checkout had to pay using a PayPal account. And that was sort of a deterrent for people who didn’t have one, or who don’t use PayPal but it was also creating issues with the form itself. So some people were able to actually successfully check out without creating a member ID because PayPal is sort of, for security reasons, sort of sends you away from the site in order to finalize the transaction and then brings you back to sort of complete it. So people were submitting their form and not really creating like a user ID. Thankfully we were able to match the transaction order with the member who signed up because of the information that PayPal pulls, but ultimately the web team and budget team sort of worked together to resolve the issue, which basically means switching to a different payment gateway, which has Stripe. So this doesn’t affect people who have currently signed up using PayPal. And there’s no need for us to push those individuals to sign up using Stripe because those memberships are sort of self-contained and we’ll sort of continue on a, on a renewing basis, no problem. But immediately, as soon as we switched to Stripe, anyone who signed up after the fact, we haven’t had any sort of issue either with the form because everything stays nicely on the website. And then also, because it just generally accepts credit card without having any sort of like, need for login information. So yeah. Do you want me to take, oh, no, you got this one. Okay. I’ll pass it over to Katerina.
Editorial output + Publishing schedule
Katerina Stamadianos (06:31):
Okay, great. So Michael just talked about our members and their dues and kind of the, the amount of funds that, that kind of amassed for us in order for us to pay writers. And that obviously has to correspond with our output from an editorial standpoint. So moving forward and this wasn’t necessarily a decision made based off of budgeting, but more so I think our general workflow and, and the workflow that helps us meet our goals. We decided that publishing monthly was just something that we weren’t really interested in doing, because it’s a big churn, there’s a lot of turnover, like a lot of deadlines need to be met way in advance of publishing. And so it kind of looks like a constant year round effective publishing. All of us actually have other jobs and other responsibilities outside of New Feeling, and so it just kind of seemed like too much. And something that’s a bit more sustainable, both from a budgetary perspective, but also from a just general quality of work perspective, as well as just respecting everyone’s timelines is publishing on a bimonthly schedule. So every other month we’re hoping to publish an issue. What that issue looks like is something Mike will touch upon in a second. But essentially the schedule is better for us to give us more time to fundraise, to cover the cost of paying writers fairly and just take more time so that we can produce content we like. A big part of starting New Feeling was that we felt like a lot of publications for, for good reasons and bad were kind of just pushing out content perhaps popular news stories, get clicks, et cetera, et cetera. But we wanted to actually be really intentional with what we publish. And so we think taking more time to do so is a really big a really big priority on our end. And of course our biggest priority remains to compensate writers for their time and for their work. And this is just better done on the bi-monthly publishing schedule, but Michael can speak just because Michael, sorry, I realize we didn’t intro ourselves. I am Katerina, and I do primarily the member related activity planning as the lead of the membership working group. And also previously the organization slash the board working group. So I worked primarily on setting up a lot of our membership structure and the bylaws that kind of undergird New Feeling. And so I have less of a role in the editorial side of things just because it’s something I’m interested in, I’m interested in taking part in going forward, but I think that’s kind of the beauty of our organizing structure is we were on a bit of a rotation basis. So this is all to say Michael can tell you more about what our next issue is going to look like.
Michael Rancic (09:47):
Yeah. and just to sort of like add to what Katerina was saying too about the bi-monthly thing. You know, after learning, we learned a lot just by taking some time to sort of sit back. And one of the things as we sort of realized very early on was that we weren’t really ready to publish regularly on a monthly schedule and it was sort of forcing us to make decisions that weren’t really in line with our values. And as we’ve sort of learned, you know, having a sense of urgency around stuff really sort of promotes a like white supremacy culture. And so we saw that in full view in terms of, you know we were really only getting pitches from predominantly white writers. And then we were, you know, because of the time crunch also had to having to give those opportunities to white writers. And it just it didn’t really make sense. If we want to be a little bit more thoughtful about this, and that really seemed like the best path forward. And it also seemed like it would help us sort of raise a little bit more money to sort of put out good work and pay people well. So, yeah as far as the next issue is concerned I’m not on the editorial team, but I did attend that meeting. And because we’re not quite at our goal yet, rather than building the issue around a theme, it’ll sort of focus on a specific writer somebody that we’re eager to work with and a topic that they’d like to focus on in a sort of feature as well as the return of a regular popular column, which is Yes In My Backyard. So it’ll be a smaller issue. But you know, I think our first priority is to pay people fairly. And so when we were looking at the numbers we couldn’t really do the sort of like grand thing that we’ve done in the past. And so this is kind of the benefit of having a little bit more time to think about things is that we can sort of adjust to what our situation sort of demands. So yeah no theme, but really prioritizing, just like working with people that we want to, and yeah, shining a light on, on emerging, great emerging Canadian talent. So I think that’s sort of it for the next issue stuff. I can throw it back over to Katerina to talk about more community stuff.
Member discord server
Katerina Stamadianos (12:14):
Yeah. So the rest of the meeting, I think we’re going to just cover what we have planned on the member side. And then we’ll, we’ll answer any questions you have. But like I was saying earlier, the membership is something that we’ve put a lot of thought into and we’re really excited to show our members what that means. And I think it’s through forums like these, that we can actually start to build everything out and really communicate to you at what we envision membership being. And partly that’s because we want it to be member, you know, inspired and member run. And so it’s really based like the community membership of which many of you are part of is based on the idea that you’re also a stakeholder and you can also build your perspectives on how New Feeling should be run into this. And so what that looks like is really up to all of us. And so that’s why I think sessions like these are important, but another kind of way that we can pursue that goal is by having a place where people can speak to each other more regularly. And so what we’re interested in developing if there is interest at the community member level is a Discord channel. So Discord is something that you feel like uses really regularly. I think it started off as like a messaging or like workflow or whatever app for gamers, which is really sick. But I think a lot more of like community based organizations or like people based around a certain interest or people super interested in even like, I’m sure there’s a music Discords there places where it’s like basically a messaging board where people can converse with each other and about like a centralized topic. So for example, I am on several Discords and some of them are kind of like self-help based, other ones are like, based off of volunteering things I have. But what we had envisioned is a community member Discord where members specifically, could come together to chat about everything and anything related to music made in so-called Canada. We want it to be a place where people can ask questions about New Feeling, but also post music they really love not necessarily their own, you know, we’ll have to come up with rules surrounding what the I guess conduct is. And I know that some people really have feelings about what soliciting looks like and if they want that, but anyways, sorry, that’s a bit of an aside in general. The Discord can be a forum for people to ask questions about New Feeling, propose ideas, chat about music, chat about, you know, genres chat about events coming up, chat about maybe some things that they don’t really feel like they have a community for elsewhere. But we do want to do this responsibly which would include like moderating some of the chat just because we do need to open ourselves up to the possibility that a member may post things that we don’t necessarily stand behind and we want to make sure that the Discord is a safe and respectful online environment for everyone. And so we’re still figuring out what this would look like, and we’re still actually trying to figure out if the Discord is something that people would actually be interested in. So later when we turn to taking your questions, I may actually pose one to you on your experience using similar programs, and if you’d be interested in it. And I think what we may also do is the leaps done a lot of like Twitter and like Instagram polls before to see where people’s interests lays. And so we may do the same. So don’t feel like you’re deciding for everyone, like this is something where we’re, we’re testing the waters of in general.
Writer Member class
Katerina Stamadianos (16:53):
The next thing I want to talk about is the writer membership class. So we originally thought of our membership structure as taking three different classifications, the first being the community members structure that you’re a part of. And I guess kind of similarly the advisory members structure where community members are supporters of New Feeling, and they essentially are also helping to fairly compensate writers for their work. But also we thought of something a bit further, which is the writer member class. The writer member class would be interested in supporting New Feeling’s, growth, and like benefiting from the the decision-making structures that each of you have as members of the co-op, but they would also be interested in pursuing writers activities provided by the cooperative. Essentially these individuals would be working towards writing two or more pieces for New Feeling in a calendar year. And that would be inclusive of shorter reviews. But this is not to say that they would receive first dibs on pitches. Like this is just something that we would work towards. It wouldn’t be a hard and fast rule, but essentially it would be an avenue for writer members to work on something they’re trying to develop, which is their writing, and also be a forum for members to receive writing assistance, not assistance, but programming that is beneficial to developing their writing as they scale. And so the membership breakdown working group when we do instate this membership class will be responsible for coordinating these activities and working with writer members to facilitate their contributions to New Feeling’s editorial while prioritizing equity and opportunity for marginalized writers. So some of these recurring writer’s activities would be like Q’s and A’s with guest speakers who have experience in certain subject matters skillsets tutorials for specific skills, writing circles, writing buddies, mentorships, the kind of things that go both ways. So that people who are a part of New Feeling can also professionally develop by you know, offering a writing tutorial. That’s also something that I, I know a lot of writers are looking at doing is, is kind of building out that sort of teaching skill. So community members, the way we envision it will be able to switch their membership classification to be writer members when we do instate that level of membership. However, we’re just not sure when exactly we do want to instate that, the idea here being that we want to build up our community level memberships first and kind of get ourselves familiar with working with people external to the organizing membership before we really try and add all of these different elements into the pot, because I, we realized it could be confusing not only just for us, but also for members who are looking to join, but not really sure what they want. And essentially what we’re planning on doing is rolling this out sometime in the future. And this isn’t something we really publicize a lot, but we did want to bring it up today just to like, keep it you know, at the back of your head that this is a possibility for yourself if you’re interested and just to get involved in a different capacity with New Feeling. And also it’s a possibility for other members and perhaps down the line, this could be a really cool way to actually to actually attract new members. I don’t know if Michael, you are down to chat about the annual general meeting, but I can, I can go as well.
Plans for our first Annual General Meeting
Michael Rancic (21:12):
Basically every co-op has like a, an AGM and typically the first one is the one that you have to sort of vote on the collective’s bylaws. You use it to elect a board to represent the different member stakeholders of the cooperative. This is a big priority of the organizing working group that Katerina and I are a part of. We are sort of holding off on having one at the moment until we sort of like build our membership to a sort of slightly larger state. So kind in tandem with meeting our membership goals that I mentioned earlier, in terms of like, for budgetary reasons, we’re also looking at sort of like increasing our numbers to a point where it would make sense to have this first AGM because the way that sort of things are stipulated, and you can sort of see this information. I don’t know, Katerina, if you want to paste a link to the bylaws real quick in the chat, just so people have it as a reference, but right now, the way that we’re sort of envisioning the board is that there would be typically like three seats per membership class or thereabouts. This is a conversation that, that we all will have as a co-op, but in order to do that, we need to, you know, a substantial amount of people. And I think that there would be, you know, a strong enough showing right now in community and certainly in the organizing side, but right now our advisory class is a little smaller and, you know, we’re, we’re sort of trying to get a better sense of when this writing member class would be, would sort of fit in. So right now we’re sort of looking at probably like early next year for the first AGM that would give us some time to sort of grow a little bit, and then also basically develop what we need to before then. That said you are all co-owners of New Feeling. And so we won’t do any, anything to substantively change the cooperative on our own without first coming to all of you. So there will be other opportunities to have general all member meetings in the future when we make decisions that affect all of us. But right now we’re sort of operating on the basically on the designs that we’ve sort of established why we took a break and it was just sort of laid out in the bylaws as well as yeah, I think just mostly the bylaws. But yeah, I think that’s kind of it for the AGM stuff. So yeah, basically we’re aware this is something that needs to happen. It’s definitely a priority for us, but we would just want to sort of like get everything in line before we, we do it.
Michael Rancic (24:16):
So I think that sort of wraps up all the things that we wanted to talk about. We did have a question submitted beforehand. We asked everybody in the email, if you had any questions outright that you could send it in and we could address those here. So that question was: “are there partnerships with other orgs, such as artist run centres that new feeling is interested in pursuing in interested in, or pursuing, sorry. I’m just thinking, especially about the diversity mandate and tapping into writers who are interested in, but not necessarily as attached to the music scene.” That’s a great question.
It’s definitely something that’s been on our mind. So we have a social media slash community focused working group and the real focus and priority for that working group is everything that’s like public facing. So that’s all of our social media, but then also our the way that we sort of connect to different either community members or community groups. And so in that working group have had multiple meetings talking about, you know, reaching out to different organizations, like-minded organizations. So first so, so the short answer to this is, yes, this is something that we’re thinking about but we haven’t done it enough. Partially because before we approached anybody, you know I said “like-minded organizations,” we can’t really talk to anybody who’s like-minded before we really figure out what it is that we want to want to be. So we needed to solidify our values. So the values development process was a month long process that basically started from the very first like iterative conversations that we had before New Feeling even had a name to when we brought on our steering committee and basically ran by a draft of our values to them, which they then give us feedback on. And then that became the published version, which exists on our website. So now that we have those values in place, we have a better sense of checks and balances in order to sort of like say, okay this group, do they, or don’t they sort of fit into that? So one way that we’ve sort of talked about potentially like partnering with other community related organizations is that one of our steering committee members, Anupa Mistry, suggested partnering with other organizations to do sort of like editorial takeovers.
So we wouldn’t be setting or determining what the editorial for the issue was. It would be through a community partnership. And I really liked this idea because I think it would help us reach audiences beyond our own. And that’s really important to us in terms of just like growing as a publication, but then also adding new members to a New Feeling, but it’s sort of a difficult strategy to have without first having some, some money to compensate people fairly. There has been like a, sort of a wave of outreach that we in the social media slash community working group have done. But most of the organizations that we’ve reached out to. So one of them is n10.as, the radio station in Montreal, the Encampment Support Network in Toronto, All Access Pass in Vancouver, which is a radio show and Face the Music and Entertainment, which is like a professional development music focused organization based in Vancouver. A lot of them didn’t get back to us or yeah, we never, we never sort of like heard back. So we basically sent out emails basically, just sort of saying, hi, this is what we’re about. Would you be interested having a conversation about the way this so we can sort of like help each other? One successful conversation that we did have was with a cooperative based in Vancouver, they’re called VALU Co-op they are a visual artist run co-op and there’s also a union component to that. So that’s gone really well. Basically like tying things back to our values again VALU co-op actually their values on their website are actually were very informative to the development of our own. So they’ve been an organization– they’ve kind of formed about a year before we did and we’ve really looked to them as an inspiration because a lot of cooperatives tend to hide the fact that there a cooperative. There was a period of time where it wasn’t really cool or hip to, to start one. And so they sort of obscure that fact, whereas VALU are sort of very transparent in how they’re organizing, why they’re doing it, the fact that they’re organizing around labor, which really resonated with what we’re trying to do. And so they’ve been really great and we’ve had some very early conversations with them about ways in which that we could work together, which would involve I can’t say too much because we haven’t really like fleshed it out, but potentially could involve more writing opportunities for members of the cooperative. And it could involve more organizing around labor as writers as well. So we will keep you all sort of posted about that and we will very likely be having conversations amongst the organizing team soon about ways to sort of move forward with that. And then once we’ve sort of had that conversation, we’ll sort of bring that forward to you all, the community members to sort of discuss our options with these partnerships, not just with VALU, but with other organizations that we, we like. So that kind of covers our response to that question. I think now we can probably open it up to the floor if anybody who’s joined has any, any questions that they want to run by us? Anything that’s been unclear anything that they want to know more about just yeah, you can drop yourself off of mute and fire away.
Katerina Stamadianos (30:44):
So also if anyone has any ideas on, if they’d be interested in a Discord or any other platforms that you may not be aware of, happy to chat about that as well.
I’ll just chime in quickly just to say, I appreciate all the detail. That was a lot. And yeah, it seems, it seems like it all makes sense, I guess, just to know that, you know, things are still getting worked out, but I appreciate all of the organization and, you know, just that bylaws page and will take some time, take some time with that. And yeah, in terms of the Discord topic, I’m, I’m, I’m still more of a, like a Slack person myself in terms of workflow, but I’ve from what I’ve gathered from some friends of mine that use Discord, primarily there seems to be some major advantages there. I think mainly that it has better options, I think, around the free plan, you know, just to keep things cost efficient. So, yeah, that makes sense there. So that’s, that’s all I have to say. I just appreciate your time and all the work that you Katerina and Michael have put in towards sharing all this information with with us.
Katerina Stamadianos (32:12):
Thanks. and just to to add to that, Tom Beedham joined us a bit late, who’s on the care team and has done a ton of work to support and make New Feeling what it is. So he’s also very appreciated. One thing that I do want to say about Discord over Slack is for some reason Tom, and I work on a project outside of New Feeling together and it’s Slack based and I find the work and generally just, I find Discord a bit more intuitive. I’m not sure what Tom thinks, but I find it’s way easier for chatting, which I think is what we’re trying to do. Less like assigning tasks cause I would never do that to you. And I it’s kind of like Slack’s cool sibling, I would say, which is kind of my, my, my, but that’s just a preference I think. But yeah.
Michael Rancic (33:17):
Cool. Any other questions from anybody who’s joined us today? No pressure. If you don’t have any we are always available email@example.com or, you know, you can reach out to some of us on Twitter as well. But yeah, if you have any other questions, happy to answer them here.
Katerina Stamadianos (33:50):
Great. I think that’s all thanks so much for joining us, everyone. This will be available I think, in the coming days or week or so for listening back, if there was anything complicated or something you want to just hear again, or you loved it so much that you want to listen to twice it’ll be available and we’re going to timestamp that I think so that we can streamlined at all. So thanks again, really means a lot that you guys showed up and hope to, to chat more.
Michael Rancic (34:25):
Yeah. Thanks so much for joining and believing in what we’re trying to accomplish and yeah, showing up today aswell. It means a lot. And yeah. Thanks everyone. Have a good night.