Backstage – Episode #12

Why we're launching Changelog++

let us take you closer to the metal

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We first launched a membership back in 2013… before they were cool! 😆 Now we’re back with a brand new edition. It’s called Changelog++ and we hope you love it. This episode of Backstage is a tell-all about the program. Why we think the timing is right, what we hope it can become, how we’re experimenting with ideas to make it great, and what you can do to get involved.

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Changelog

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So we’re here backstage, talking about Changelog++.

Uuh, ++… What is that?

It sounds better. It sounds at least one better.

It sounds like it could be more than one better.

It’s at least one, but it could be more… And better than our last membership system, perhaps?

Lord, I hope so… [laughter] The last one was sort of embarrassing, honestly, which is why we stopped doing it, and then we even refunded people’s money. Okay, it wasn’t that embarrassing; it was just more like – it was more charity than it was you get something of value, and that’s why it didn’t make sense to have it. Because these things need to have a good value exchange. We need to give the listener more than we’re giving elsewhere, and they can’t be the same thing that you’re getting for free, essentially.

And it was the early days of memberships - pre-Patreon…

Yeah, it was pre-Patreon.

Pre-YouTube – well, YouTube existed…

This is early days of Memberful.

Memberful, yeah.

It was even early days for that.

It was pre-Jerod on your team. It was right when I joined the team.

You had relaunched… It must have been beginning of 2013, end of 2012 was when I got involved…

Yeah. Well, I had high hopes, man. I was hoping that our listening audience would be like “Yes”, and they’ll support all the things and that did not happen.

Right. And this was what was – maybe we need to say it’s a little bit embarrassing… This was when I saw it, and I thought “Hm, interesting…” - it was because it was something that we both know about you… The pure, romantic announcement “Members only. No ads. We’re going full member-supported.” That’s what the launch was, wasn’t it? Fully member supported.

It was. And I remember talking to you about the Members Only jacket even.

Which we could bring back now… [laughs]

We could bring back now… But it was cool, because I liked that – I suppose I liked the story; not so much the exclusivity, but more the story of like “This means enough to you, and clearly it means enough to us to do it, so let’s find alternate ways to sustain.” And yeah, this was 2013, so way back, even before people were used to paying creators or their makers or their whatevers for that value exchange of something interesting, unique and creative, that served them some sort of value. And I think we had high hopes. I think it was early.

We probably could have kept going down that road and find ways to iterate, but I think it just hadn’t been proven yet, and been done by enough people to make it change the perception. You hear this on Shark Tank all the time, like “You know what - to market that thing, you have to change everybody’s mind.”

“There’s a lot of education you’ve gotta do there.”

Exactly. A lot of dollars of marketing. And that was the hard part of that decision - we had to change a lot of minds on this perception of paying makers, paying creators.

Meanwhile, businesses were discovering that podcast advertising was very effective, and so that was kind of taking off…

It was, yeah.

…and was a much easier sale, and it ended up being more sustainable. We would not have made it if we stayed members-only then, right?

[00:04:13.20] Yeah, definitely not. The difference in total revenue was just such a gap that it’s not even worth mentioning. There’s clearly an upside on the advertising model, and people know that. And whether or not it’s sustainable - I guess it depends. Luckily, we’re in tech, and tech seems to have a lot of dollars rolling around, no matter which side of the fence you’re on… So I think we were fortunate.

I tell everybody that knows me – it’s like “You podcast for a living?” I don’t know if yo get this or not, Jerod, but like “You podcast for a living? How the heck do you do that?” Well, now it makes more sense, but several years ago it was like “Really? How do you make money?” “Well, ads…” But it wasn’t exactly like “Oh, just ads.” We have relationships with these brands, and it’s just much, much different, and I think that’s the approach.

If we had been in a podcast around real estate, it may not have been as sustainable. But because we’re around tech and software, it’s a different world and there’s different kind of advertisers that want to be a part of what we’re doing. But I think our secret sauce there was just this different approach towards relationships, too.

Yes, but now we find ourselves full-circle, because here we are… Memberships.

So what’s changed? I mean, I’m asking you as if I don’t also know what’s changed; I have a perspective on that. But from your perspective, why are we here now, back where we were in 2013? First of all, we should mention we’re not doing the all-in; we’re gonna stick with a hybrid approach, right?

But what’s changed around us?

I think what’s changed is this concept of listener-supported now to me is people want to support, and it’s almost like a way to call their place home even.

Right.

So that exchange is like buy-in. It’s not begrudgingly, like “Oh, here’s my X dollars”, it’s more like “I want to give you this”, and we’ve never – because I guess of our PTSD of prior membership fails or however you wanna term that, because of that PTSD we had sort of resisted… And we’re even late coming to it, even though we were early… Because I suppose we didn’t wanna feel that pain, that embarrassment again. It was more like “We wanna wait until the opportunity is right”, but we have a lot of people who say “I’d love to support your podcast.” And now, because this way is normal, we don’t expect to take every “free listener” and turn them into a paid listener. That’s not the deal here.

The deal is meant to be options. There are people who want more, care a ton, are willing to hand over a few dollars in exchange for that, and we’re more than willing to have more fun. This is a lot of fun, and to me, this is an experimental thing that lets us have more fun, find more ways to even give our free listeners even more bonuses, too… Because everything’s gonna get upgraded, because we’re doing more cool things. So to me it’s just like, you’ve got listeners who wanna support, and we’ve never given them an outlet or an opportunity to, considering our prior membership flounders.

Right. We’ve been asked many times “How can I support you, how can I help you guys?”, and historically, all we could say is “Tell your friends. Listen to the show. That’s enough for us.” People say “Can I at least donate? Do you have a Donate button? Can I buy your merch?” No, you can’t buy our merch; we’re working on that. You can buy our merch here, soon… You can buy it right now, technically, but you have to find the URL. We’ll be talking more about merch here soon, but there just wasn’t any sort of avenue for that. So this provides an avenue in a way that’s additive; it provides value back.

[00:08:15.02] We’ve never been ones out begging bread, asking “Please keep this thing going. We need you to survive.” We thought this is a thing where we’re providing for others, not asking for provision. So if we can’t find a way of making it sustainable, we’re not gonna just rely solely on that… So Changelog++ is not us saying “We need your help. Keep Changelog alive. Join Changelog++.”

Like Wikipedia, for example.

Right. Jimmy Wales. That being said, there is a need to, we believe, diversify the way that we do make money, because of changes in the podcasting industry that are going on around us. Nothing super-scary from where we’re sitting, but it’s definitely changing. It’s maturing. You see a lot of bigger players, there’s big moves for exclusivity going on. Spotify is buying up a bunch of podcasts and building an ad network…

So we see that the way that people acquire podcast advertisements is gonna start to move away from the way that we do them, which is, like you said, long-term tightly woven, powerful relationships, and it’s starting to become a little more transactional, which could have implications on smaller players like us. When you can just go to a dashboard and spend your ad budget through Spotify’s dashboard, it makes working tightly with small indies like us less attractive, even though we think there’s more bang for the buck when you do that… But things are changing slightly around us, and having an alternate means of income is not a bad idea either.

Yeah. The way that ad dollars are being changed – Spotify is doing for podcast advertising what Google had done for text-based ads, AdWords.

Or they’re trying to, yeah.

Yeah, that’s their hope, at least. And if they succeed, then that does mean that our relationship, whether we like it or not – it doesn’t matter if we’re the best people ever, something’s gonna change there. And yeah, this is definitely something to diversify that.

It’s also establishing that 1,000 true fans kind of thing… Because I could be hopeful and hope for 10,000-15,000 people to become Changelog++ members, that’d be awesome, but I think if it was just 1,000 or several thousand I’d be happy with that. And that’s cool, because the folks who are doing that are clearly a unique fan, willing to exchange dollars, and that says a lot.

Mm-hm. Also, our style of listeners are probably more ad-adverse than a typical human, don’t you think?

Totally.

We talk about that a lot on our shows, as things grow up, even though open source, how that is only icky if you do it icky… Like, marketing or sales is really just providing value and just showing people that value, and either convincing them of it, or just showing it to them… But a lot of the real either not good or insincere marketing that goes on is very unattractive, and lack of sincerity is something that I don’t appreciate, and I think a lot of our community also doesn’t… So I think an ad-free offering for those who do want a more direct relationship, but really is just sick of the ads - why not give that option? Why not?

[00:12:23.14] Well, the reason why not is because it was gonna be a lot of work… That was the reason why not. So we were talking about how we’re kind of late at this point… We had been thinking about rebooting the membership program for a while, but we’ve just prioritized other things. And a lot of that just has to do with the effort involved, don’t you think? Did you have other reservations besides pulling it together? We’ve had a notion card for over a year with details on how we would do this…

[unintelligible 00:12:51.18]

Yes, we probably pulled it over from Trello. It’s probably been a few years… We’ve had the name Changelog++ for at least a year… So far back that we can’t remember which one of us came up with it…

We think it was you though…

[whispering] It was me…

It was Jerod.

[laughs]

But as soon as I heard it, I was like “YES!” So I’m dove-tailing into his naming, because I would have named it that had I been thinking about it.

Well, it’s an obvious, nerdy name… Plus everybody was doing the Plus thing: Apple TV Plus, Disney Plus… It’s like, “Well, we can one-up that, and use the increment operator. Boom.”

And also, a lot of things begin with the right name.

What was it before – was it Listener Supported? What was the card’s name again?

Which one?

The card in notion–

Oh, Paid Supporters. We kept talking about supporters.

Yeah, Paid Supporters. Exactly. So going back to how we frame things - we didn’t want to be like “Hey, support us.” When we did this, we wanted it to be something where we literally said “Hey, here’s something so valuable that we’re not asking you to support us, we’re asking you to enjoy this viable thing. And there’s a cost associated, because there is extra time behind the scenes to make that possible.” Production time, effort, thought time… The magnitude of hours across the shows we do. So there is a time, effort, value exchanged there into producing it. We wanted to deliver something that was of actual value, not just like “Hey, paid supporters.” So I think it comes down to the right name, too…

It gets you excited.

…because once you’ve got that name…

And who doesn’t wanna make something called Changelog++? That’s cool. It’s cool to listen to as well, by the way.

Especially once you realize that there’s no problem with URL encoding… We can actually just use the plus symbols in our web page URL, and not have to do any sort of weird encodings… It’s like, that’s a sweet URL, /++.

Yeah, that was. Even when we finally got there, we were like “Will ++ work as a segment in the URL? Let me try.” And then a minute later like “Yes, this works. It’s no problem at all. Let’s do it.”

Plus, we also use the spelled out version for people who aren’t quite sure…

Right. So if you do “plus” twice, or just plusplus, either goes to the right place.

Got you covered. Got you covered.

Yeah. Which is good.

So yeah, the biggest hold-up for us was really just priorities and bandwidth, and thinking about all that we had to build in order to launch it on our website… Which kind of leads us to the way that we’re launching it, which is somebody else’s website, right? [laughter]

Yeah… Thank you, Supercast.

Well, one, we like a good competition. Competing is fun. Easy buttons are fun to push… I mean, I prefer an Easy button than a Hard button. I guess it depends… Going back to the conversation I just had with Jeff Sheldon on Founders Talk, which is on the feed, by the way, so check it out… He talked about the long, hard road. So he might not say the Easy button is fun to push.

[00:15:56.22] In this case, I’m enjoying pushing the Easy button because it’s about experimentation. We don’t know - like Jerod said, we’re not all-in on this. We think it’s a great idea, we think we’re on to something right here, especially given the things we’ve expressed, which is like another avenue for our listeners to support and enjoy…

Right.

So this lets us try it in a way that makes the tech a little easier; it gets us into a competition, which we’ll explain a bit more here in a bit… And just lets it be something like “We can try this out. You can try this out.” Literally, we give a trial for it too, so everybody who signs up gets a 30-day trial. We want you to try it and love it. If you don’t love it, then let us know, because we want you to love it. We want it to be awesome. So that 30-day trial of Plus is not even that expensive, so… Pretty easy.

So we’re launching on Supercast… And as I said, the industry is changing; there’s a lot of startups and toolings, and the anchors of the world, the transistors, the firesides, there’s hosting providers now, there’s ad agencies for podcasters…

Booking agencies…

There’s PR firms that are like “Give us your bio and we’ll get you on podcasts…”, which are the bane of our inboxes at times… And there’s Supercast, which is a new service, about a year old now, that’s providing tooling for podcasters to run memberships around their podcasts. And we did find them because they’re running a competition, and as Adam said, who doesn’t love a good competition… So we get a chance, if we can make Changelog++ a success in the first six months through the end of the year, we’ve got a chance at some promotion from them and some goodies… So we thought “Well, that’s interesting.” That’s what actually caught our eye.

And then we went and looked at the tech, and we were like “This does do a lot of the things that we would have to build…”, which admittedly is not tons of infrastructure, but it’s all there and ready to use. And then we hopped on a Zoom with them, and that’s probably what convinced me that this was a company that we wanna do business with… It was because they kind of rolled out the red carpet for us, and we had a call with one of their head engineers, their main sales lead, James, and the CEO also hopped on and spent a half hour or ninety minutes with us… Which was awesome, and we just felt like “Okay, these people really do care.” So we decided to give it a shot.

So yes, when you click on the ++ logo in our nav, or when you go to changelog.com/++, right now we’re just redirecting you over to changelog.supercast.tech. That’s where our landing page lives, which is a bit barebones, but that’s one of the reasons why… And that’s where the membership lives, and that’s where the private feed lives etc. For now.

Yeah, I was surprised by the appearance of their CEO on the rollout. Surprised and impressed… And I agree, that’s something that – you know, they were pitching us.

[unintelligible 00:19:19.20]

Well, we’re relationship people. That’s how we would have done it, right?

Right, exactly. That’s what I’m trying to get at to the audience. It wasn’t a pitch. I don’t believe that all those people came on the call as a means to a pitch. They came on as a means of support. Like “Hey, who are you? What are your goals? What are you trying to do? How can we be of service, essentially?” And they spent necessary time answering our questions, going through all the things; we weren’t rushed. And I really appreciate that. That’s exactly how we would do things, and if you’re listening to this, that’s the kind of stuff that works. That’s the kind of sales that works. Non-sales sales.

[00:20:04.05] Not only that, but they actually made changes to their platform quickly to get us on board. So we started these conversations early July - it might have been before the 4th, or maybe right after the 4th; I can’t recall. And as you may know, we have our own custom platform, we’ve invested in that over the years, and we have our workflow, and everything is pretty streamlines the way that we do what we do… And the last thing we wanted to do was double all of our efforts; so we’ve made that clear to them, that if we had to put all of our episodes in our own CMS and then double all of that - the show notes, the title etc. over into their side for every episode… We ship about five episodes a week, and that’s kind of a non-starter for us. So they built some tooling, and they’ve improved some stuff that already existed, and allowed us to do it very simply… And that was awesome. They moved very fast. Within a week and a half it was all ready to rock. So that’s cool. Very exciting.

That being said, this is an experiment, and there are limitations on Supercast, and so our plan is to be there for six months, do a retrospective, and then if it’s something that we wanna continue to build and invest in, we will be building Changelog++ into Changelog.com directly, at which point it will unlock all sorts of cooler features. The one that’s guaranteed if we do that, and the most exciting, is completely custom feeds, where you can build up exactly what you wanna listen to out of our catalog, whether it’s certain topics, certain shows, certain people… Maybe you like to listen to JS Party, but not when I’m on it…

[laughs] Yeah, they’re not gonna filter you out, bro…

[laughs]

…but they could though, which is the important thing.

Exactly.

The cool thing too was that when we asked them about those changes even to their tech, they – not so much even that, but they were gracious enough to not be offended when we said “We’ve done things custom so far…”, we even explained it, not that we’re using them, but this is a launching opportunity for us, so we may not be long-term Supercast users… They weren’t offended. They didn’t even turn off because of that; they weren’t offended, by any means. In fact, they were like “That’s awesome. Use us to launch. That’s great.”

I think it takes a lot of confidence and maturity for a company to say “You know what - it’s totally normal, and we would hope that some of our customers outgrow us”, you know?

Yeah. Which shows that they seem to have this long-term play trajectory too, and I think that comes from – and this is just what we know of, or at least what I know of, the behind-the-scenes of Supercast. Andrew Wilkinson - you may have heard him on Founders Talk before, and not just there, but because he’s got Tiny Capital, Tiny Company; he was the original creator of Metalab, a well-known design agency out of Canada… Well-established and well-credentialed person.

The Metalab stuff was awesome.

Yeah, definitely. Everything they did was amazing.

It was just like eye candy.

They’re known in the Tumblr space, they bought Dribble recently… But not just bought, but invested in. And I think the moves Andrew has made in the businesses he’s been a part of and/or invested in as a part of Tiny, have been strategic and smart. And because of that, I also felt like “Okay, that’s who’s behind this. This is somebody’s brainchild that was involved with Andrew.” We talked to Jason the CEO that day, and he’d kind of given us a little bit of the behind-the-scenes… So maybe on a future Founders Talk we might go deeper with Andrew, we might go deeper with Jason, who knows… But the gist of the story though is people who truly care about the future of creators were behind this, so that gave me even more good feeling about this move for us to give it a try.

[00:24:09.24] It’s really akin to Substack, but for podcasters… You know, what Substack is doing for writers, Supercast is trying to do for podcasters. Now, I do know that Substack also has some podcasting tools, because writers also wanna podcast, so maybe they become competitors… But I feel like they have the same spirit, which is really providing a platform for indies to stay indie. Go indie and stay indie.

Yeah. You know, without giving away too much, to speak to the sustainability opportunity for different podcasts, whether it’s an individual show, or more of a network like we are - we’re portraying ourselves to be more of a portfolio network - it doesn’t take a ton of paid members to sustain that thing. It could be as little as 500 to 1,000, it could be as much as 2,000 to 5,000. So the opportunity for us to diversify, and I would say more secure ourselves against things like Covid and coronavirus with the world, and how things have changed monetarily. We have lost money this year as a part of this… And I guess not enough to make it suck, to make it not okay… So this definitely opened our eyes too to be like–

[laughs] It still sucked.

Yeah, definitely; I mean, anytime you lose money, it sucks. I’m trying to be not so dramatic about it, I suppose…

Yeah. We’re fine.

…it opened our eyes to a need that – you know, it would be nice to give our loyal listeners that wanted… They already want this kind of thing, they enjoy this exchange with the creator and the opportunity.. And that combined with Supercast - their graciousness to change their platform and take ideas… I mean, if you want, you can speak to some specifics, but there were some specific ideas you had given them, Jerod, that changed the way they did importing, and stuff like that… That was cool, that riffing. It’s like creators riffing, even.

Right.

That’s what I love so much about being a creator - whether it’s software, or a podcast, or anything else… That collaboration is just so much fun.

Totally. Yeah, it’s fun being involved at this level as well; kind of in the startup level. I’ve been on the Plausible Analytics issue tracker, I’ve just been watching Uku and the gang working on Plausible as we are now customers… If you’ve listened to that episode of the Changelog, you know what we’re talking about. If not, we’ll throw a link in the show notes if you’re interested.

It’s fun to just be a part of Plausible. The system is small enough I can understand the code, the team is small enough that I can have a say… Not that I have – I don’t even know if I’ve even said anything yet; I’m just watching the issues, and like “Oh, that’s cool”, and then I go and see him close things, and I go to my dashboard and see what’s changed. It’s just fun at that level, and it’s been like that with Supercast, where it’s like they’ll email us like “Hey, reload the page. It’s different now.”

Yeah, exactly.

Awesome. That’s cool.

Instant feedback, instant gratification even… The whole – it just reminds me of the way bands orchestrate themselves. You get the lead singer who jumps over to this band and does a cameo, or something like that… It’s fun to just make together. That’s just a lot of fun.

Yeah. So we’ll say it again, we’re at the experiment phase. We can talk about what Changelog++ is today, and then we can talk about some of our ideas; not necessarily where it’s going to be in the future, but things that we would like to do with it if it proves successful. Today it’s basically an ad-free version of the Master feed. There’s more there, but that’s the gist of it. So imagine our shows – you know we have transitionary, awesome BMC beats in between our spoken content and our ads. Well, the music is still there, it’s just the ads are gone. And then you came up with “Make the ads disappear.” That’s basically what you do when you join Changelog++, you make the ads disappear.

[00:28:16.07] We didn’t stop there though, because our main ad, the one that’s probably burned into your – what’s the ear version of a retina? Burned into your earlobes… No, that’s not the love. Eardrum? I don’t know…

Your earholes. Just keep it simple.

Yes… It’s the part of pre-roll.

Did you know that our bandwidth is provided by Fastly…?

Mm-hm…

…and we’re hosted on Linode cloud servers? Of course you do…

But we move fast and fix things because of Rollbar, too. You can’t forget that.

That’s right. Of course you know that, because those three partners have been with us for a long time…

…and we love that.

…and our pre-roll has been exactly that eight-second spot for a long time. And even that gets disappeared. But we thought instead of just making it disappear, since it’s at the top of every show, what we should do is replace it with some really cool BMC sound. So we turned to Breakmaster Cylinder and said “Make us a really cool sound, basically, that we could put in the spot of the partner pre-roll for our Changelog++ peoples.” Anytime you tell BMC, “Hey, make us a really cool sound”, there’s a lot of sounds that come out of that, right?

Oh, yeah…

And also – have we ever talked about the file names, how Breakmaster Cylinder names their files?

No, I don’t think so. Not publicly at least.

Not sure if I should name that publicly. I don’t think that’s exposing too much… Let’s just say they’re crazy file names.

They always have unique names, and they’re not direct, but they also do make sense. It’s really interesting how they do naming.

Right. Let me give you a couple of examples from our Stings folder here… We have CloudLevelStartReverbAlteration.wav, GlitchWoosh.wav, CurbyPew.wav, CurbyPewPewPewPewPew.wav, KungFuSendOffEndingReverb.wav…

Oh, yes…

MetaManWithEnding, MetaManLoop, PregaManALittleFaster, TadaBassyWayBetter.wav, Waltz01Shortest, Waltz01NotAsShort, Waltz03SortOfOnTheLongerSideIfIHadToPinItDown and Waltz04Long. So half of my fun is just reading the file names that BMC comes up with for all these little sounds…

Yeah. The WayBassier one was funny, because I was like “It needs more bass.”

It needs to be bassier.

It needs those 808s, BMC… So that was bassier.

The one we came up with, which is our new Changelog++ exclusive stinger (or sting; I don’t know, I’m not an audio nut) is called YouFoundASecretCoin.wav. And it sounds like this. [jingle 00:31:10.17] Who doesn’t want that at the top of their episode? Come on…

So much better than what I say, gosh…

[laughs] Sorry, Fastly, sorry, Linode, but you can’t beat BMC right at the top. [jingle 00:31:29.19] That’s worth the price of admission right there, isn’t it?

I mean, take my money.

Shut up and take my money.

I do appreciate the tweet you’ve put out recently… Maybe it was a DM, or I think it was a tweet… The partner pre-roll, which is what we’ve called it - the way it’s burned into your earholes (or whatever term you came up with) was a feature, not a bug. I really appreciate that, because that’s the truth. It’s not meant to be annoying, but it’s meant to be memorable, and that’s why it really hasn’t changed.

We’ve thought about changing it, but we’ve never changed it. We thought about getting different voices to say the same thing…

[00:32:08.21] Yeah, and I think those are all still great ideas. I don’t not welcome a change of just my voice up there saying it… Because as a listener of our own shows, it kind of bothers me sometimes, too…

[laughs]

So I might be a ++ subscriber just for that reason. Just to get rid of me.

[laughs] Right. Well, we have introduced the cold opens lately, which have been an almost unadulterated success. We’ve had one person that was super-confused by the cold opens, because they’re like “Is this the middle of the show? What’s going on?!” and then the show went on and the pre-roll would come in.

Right. It’s funny, as I was looking at my to-do list here recently, because I was going back in my retrospectives - it’s literally right here, March 11th: “Ideas. Cold opens for the podcast”, and then there’s a checkmark next to it, because it’s been done.

Yeah. Boom.

I mean, I think they’re a great success. I enjoy opening up to – we call it “time to content.” I don’t know if anybody else is getting as geeky as we’ve gotten with these things, but…

Probably not.

Several years ago I’m like “Dude, our time to content is just terrible.” I want the sponsors, we have these necessary – I don’t wanna call them evils, because they’re not evils, but these necessary things to sustain and to build… This is a business. We have families, you know?

Right.

We have employees even, for a lack of better terms, that are full-time. We have people who rely upon this thing to be successful and sustainable, so there are choices we have to make… But the time to content thing was like “The faster we can get time to content, that’s the best thing.” So the cold opens have been really great on that front.

They bring out a poignant moment, or a funny moment, or just something that brings the show into theme right away. Instant value. The first 20 seconds - boom. Value. Done.

I love them.

So Changelog++ subscribers - of course, you’ll still get the cold open; it’s just when the cold open transitions - right now we have a transition sound, which is either Coin Stab or the Press Start sound.

Yes. Or Press Select.

Or is it Press Select? Yeah, Press Select.

It’s both. It’s Press Start, Press Start Glitch…

That’s right.

This is back more to BMC naming…

Right. And here’s a little Easter egg for you, which we don’t reveal very often… I did reveal it to one person via email. The Coin Stab and the Press Select is different, depending on if there’s a post-show, post-outro clip. So put that one in your backpocket and think about it. But that’s gone, and replacing the partner pre-roll. You’ve just found a secret coin. So that’s kind of exciting… I mean, it’s the little things; we nerd out on little things…

…but we wanna make it kind of special. We know that we’re not doing too much extra. Now, in addition to the ad-free Master feed right now, with the awesome BMC intro sound, we also are experimenting with some extended episodes. So it’s the same exact episode, but the Changelog++ version is just a little bit longer. One or two more questions, maybe a post-show gets put in… We haven’t really done too much of that. We’re just starting to experiment. Adam’s done one Founders Talk with an additional question. Of course, you had those same couple questions you ask at the end, so maybe make that a regular thing, you’re thinking?

Yeah, exactly. I think it’ll be a regular thing. So if you want those two questions, you’ll be a ++ subscriber. I think even on that note, I’ve been a die-hard hater of walled gardens too, so take that, listener, with a grain of salt… Because I’m like – it’s so hard to think about exclusivity with this, but there is a line to be drawn… So you’ll still get the same amazing value that you would normally get from the shows as they are, but we’ve just sort of added extra seasoning, or maybe one or two more extra days of aging, so to speak…

[00:36:13.00] You’re not saying you’re gonna release them later, you’re just saying they’re gonna be more aged…

Yeah. It’s a metaphor for a little bit of extra extraness (whatever that might be) to them. And that’s the value thing - it’s experimental for us, it’s us playing with it to see how that resonates on both sides. This isn’t like “Stuck. This is the way it is forever.” We’re just trying to make sure there’s a little bit more value on that ++ side, because we’re asking for that dollar exchange.

When we talk about aging, one feature that some people are doing with memberships which just doesn’t really make sense for us, I don’t think, is how members get the content a day earlier, or whatever it is. I think it makes more sense for news shows, or for analysis, or stock tips - anything where it’s time-sensitive.

Yeah, totally.

The fact of the matter is I think most of our listeners don’t listen right away. There’s that group that does… But I’m actually surprised oftentimes when we’ll ask somebody about “Hey, did you hear this episode? It was a week and a half ago”, and they’re like “No, no, no. I’m like three weeks back”, you know?

And I’m that way as well, when I listen to other people’s podcast - I do like it to be consistent, I like to have it “On Friday I listen to this”, or on the weekend the show is there, in my inbox… And there’s some newsy analysis type shows that I do wanna have like right after the Apple event; I wanna hear people’s thoughts on it. But generally, I think our stuff is kind of consumed when you want to, and I just don’t think that’s super-attractive, just putting things out for ++ early, and then delaying it for everybody else. I don’t know… I guess we haven’t really talked about it that much, but that’s my take on that one.

Yeah, it’s sort of give and take. I agree with you, I don’t think that people are listening to our feed thinking – okay, maybe prior to the pandemic, it may have been like people were chomping at the bit for more content and they were on the…

On their commutes?

On the bleeding edge of our feed… But now, with less travel and things like that for people, we’re seeing people fall further behind on their feeds, so I don’t think we have that problem now.

With that said though, we did talk about - which we haven’t done yet, and that’s not how it is currently - so we’re talking about what is Changelog++ today…

Right.

…we have talked about Backstage - since it’s already exclusive to the master feed - being a ++ thing… Not sure if that will happen, but it might happen. But more so speaking to the exclusive content, extended content. I think it’s more like Bonus. We wanna consider, if we do put things into ++, it’s more like bonus, extended, not augmented. We’re not changing current to slice JS Party in the middle, for example, like “Oh, f you want the other half of your normal JS Party, you’ve gotta be a ++ subscriber” - we don’t wanna do that.

Right. We’re not putting a paywall in front of our content.

Yeah. It’s actually something I thought of as like we wanna optimize – and I don’t even know if these terms work perfectly, because I guess podcasts have always been free, but optimizing for the free listener. Let’s optimize to keep that same listener happy, but for the ones who decide to go ++, a little bit happier.

“A little bit louder now…” Yeah, it’s bonus.

Yeah, bonus.

Come get the bonus.

The sizzle.

That’s why we came up with the “Get closer to the metal.”

That’s right, I like that…

I came up with that because I love saying it with JavaScript people. Like, “You know, what I like to do is use Express.js, because it’s closer to the metal”, which is a hilarious sentence…

Oh, yes.

[00:39:54.22] But it is closer than what some people are doing, because I’ll use meta frameworks now. NestJS basically configures Express for you. Anyways, you are closer to the metal using Express, but you’re nowhere near the metal. That being said, with Changelog++ one of our taglines is “Get closer to the metal”, which once I started analyzing that, I realized “I feel like maybe we’re calling ourselves metal then”, and maybe that’s arrogant. Are you metal?

Well, I guess I don’t understand the arrogant side of it, but I think–

Well, metal is cool, or like “We’re hardcore. We’re metal, man…”

Oh, yeah…

So I figured in “closer to the metal”, then we’re calling ourselves metal… You know, like two fingers in the sky…

Oh yeah, we’re definitely metal then. For sure, one hundred percent.

[laughs] Oh, speak for yourself man… I’m a nerd, through and through. You’re cool, I’m nerdy. That’s kind of our thing…

Well, I think you’re a cool nerd.

…so that means get closer to Adam. He’s metal.

I’m just joshing with you… But a little bonus. You can get closer.

I’m excited about it.

So am I. Hopefully y’all are excited about it as well. Since this is Backstage, this means it’s going out to Master feed subscribers, so you are already our corest of the core. You’re the one who’s interested in most of the stuff that we do, so we appreciate you for that. We’d appreciate your thoughts on Changelog++, and of course we’d appreciate you to sign up for it, but…

Tell them the pricing, man…

…if it’s not attractive to you, if there’s things that you’d love us to do that we’re not doing etc. we’d love to hear from you as well. Pricing? No, you came up with pricing. You tell them the pricing.

Well, for a limited time only – I’m just kidding…

It’s true… Don’t say it like a car salesman.

Literally true, but [unintelligible 00:41:44.08] This is not meant to be salesy “limited time only”, but more like a thank you… Because like Jerod just said, if you’re listening to this as a Master feed subscriber, we would consider you the loyalist of loyal. You’re listening to all of our shows, and that’s awesome, and we thank you for that… And as a thank you, if this sounds valuable or attractive to you, rather than you paying full price – because we’re only telling people about this in a limited fashion; we’re not at the rooftops, we’re just talking about it on Backstage. We haven’t put out a blog post about it yet. We’ve lightly mentioned it in our newsletters…

It’s a soft launch.

…and a couple of times in outros. Very lightly. So as a bonus, as a thank you, rather than paying the full $10/month, or $100/year if you wanna go yearly, we’re doing $6/month, or $60/year. So a 40% off thank you. That is a limited time only; that ends September 1st. We might be hard on that date, I don’t know… I don’t have a to-do timer for that date, so… I’m sure we’ll change it at some point, but probably September 1st sounds good to us.

Then it bumps to $10/month, or $100/month, and there you go.

$100/year, not per month.

Oh, sorry. $100/year, thank you.

Yeah. Interestingly, all but one of our earlierest of Changelog++ members have all gone yearly. All but one.

Yeah. That’s very surprising. I didn’t expect that.

Are you a yearly guy or a monthly guy? I tend to go monthly on people that I’m supporting, because maybe I’ll change my mind.

You know, I kind of resonate with the yearly, honestly. If it were me, I’d probably just go yearly… And I’m thinking because of who we’re speaking to and who we’ve suggested this to so far, that kind of does make sense. Now, as we get out to the less loyal, less known, they might go monthly, because there’s more risk, so to speak.

Right. They wanna check it out first.

Right. But if I’m a listener, then I’m like “I’m already loving this. I’ll just go yearly, because I already love it enough…”

Right.

And those dollars aren’t – they’re significant, but they’re not tremendous. They’re not enough to turn somebody off and be like “I can’t afford yearly.”

Usually, that’s a number that most people can handle. And I would say that’s –

People with software engineering salaries, right?

Yeah, exactly.

Yeah, I get that.

So I was surprised, because I didn’t expect it, but thinking about it now, I would probably have gone yearly. The cool thing is though - 30-day trial. So anybody who gives it a try - hey, guess what? Try it for 30 days, and if you don’t like it, dump it.

[laughs] Dump it… Drop it like a bad habit.

That’s right. I’m excited about the experimentation of this though. I think it’s gonna be kind of fun.

We did mention BMC already, but I wanna go back into one thing… Being able to share some inspirational things to BMC. That whole back and forth custom music across all of our shows, whether they’re ++ or not, is so much fun… And we made the decision three (or I don’t know how many) years ago, or lots of years ago, to work with BMC. And as part of this, too - even more [unintelligible 00:45:11.29] we’ve recently gone into a deeper relationship with BMC, a more concerted monthly effort towards new music… So there are additional costs coming into play that we’re just absorbing for now. We’re hoping that this and other things might shake that up for us… But it’s been a lot of fun to work with BMC and get this custom music. None of our music can be used by anybody else. It’s all exclusively licensed to us, BMC-produced, brainchild from all three of us, so to speak. It’s a true creation from all three people.

Yeah. And we hope you enjoy it. We’ve been cranking out new tracks and new transitions here and there. You probably hear a lot of – maybe some Metroid inspiration, maybe some Donkey Kong inspiration…

Castlevania…

Some Castlevania inspiration… That’s been awesome for me. It’s because we like to keep it fresh. I get bored of the same transition music all the time.

So that has been a lot of fun, and continue to expect more of that. As we build out a catalog, we’ve been thinking about maybe releasing some stuff on Spotify or somewhere, where you can just go listen to the Changelog’s catalog of music, which would be cool, too… Holler at us if you’re interested in that; we’re not sure if that’s even worth doing, but if people are interested, it might push us over the edge.

Yeah. If you’re interested, say so. One of my personal goals is to go onto Spotify and see this Press Select or You’ve Found a Secret Coin be played like 25,000 or 50,000 times. That’d be super-cool. I want that, so hopefully you do, too.

Changeloggy Country…

That’s right. Changylog Country…

Changylog Country…? I always call it Changeloggy in my head. I must be reading that wrong every time.

I did too, until I told Heather last night, I’m like “Oh, it’s Changy-Log country.”

That is Changy-Log. The other one I like is Do Not Stare Directly Into The Changelog, which is a nice, ambient chill song.

…which if you’re listening to this right now, you already heard it, because that was the opening track to Backstage.

To Backstage, that’s right.

Alright - well, you’ve been staring directly into the backstage… Anything else we wanna say to people before we let them go?

Thank you… Either way. If you’re not a ++ subscriber, no big deal.

Seriously. Keep listening the way you do. We don’t want you change a thing. This is only if you see value in it, if you’re tired of ads, if you think our ads suck, or whatever… If you just wanna get rid of that stuff, or you just wanna find ways to support us… This is not an end-all-be-all; as Jerod mentioned, it’s a hybrid for us, it’s meant to be experimental and fun… So I’ll just say thank you for listening, period.

Listen however you want, never change a beat. And if you find value in ++, then subscribe.

I’ll also say that this is an opportunity for community, right?

So if there are things that you would like this to be, let us know, because we’re just shooting from the hip over here.

And having fun doing it.

Thanks for listening.

Changelog

Our transcripts are open source on GitHub. Improvements are welcome. 💚

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