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I started my first publication when I was in third grade, though I can’t take credit for the Conde Nast-worthy moniker: The Casual Person. My childhood best friend and cofounder came up with that one, and together, we resolved to provide the most critical coverage of 1993—offering our takes on the thrill of new Sega games, the mediocrity of the Yankees, pictures of our cats. All this for the bargain price of $1 per issue, if you paid for the first ten in advance (cash only). As I recall, we quickly amassed six subscribers, but went the way of Spy as our interests shifted from publishing to pogs.
A quarter-century later, I’m giving it another go. There’ve been a few detours in the meantime, from spending the past decade covering the business of media and entertainment as a senior editor for Forbes to writing a Jay-Z biography for Penguin. My fourth book, A-List Angels: How a Band of Actors, Artists, and Athletes Hacked Silicon Valley, was published last year by Little, Brown (Arianna Huffington called it “an essential read” and DJ Khaled said it “has the keys to securing the bag on the highest level.”)
But as of this moment, the home for my writing going forward will be Substack. Sign up and you’ll find me writing at least twice a week, in a familiar style, about the latest developments in the area I’ve covered in the past--the intersection of music, media and money--with an eye toward the future. The first post each week will usually be a newsy profile, feature, or think-piece focused on the individuals and organizations who drive (and bankroll) global culture. You’ll also get the occasional net worth or earnings list, perhaps something like the Hip-Hop Cash Kings list I pioneered at Forbes.
The other weekly installment, as the New York Post recently reported, will be a serialized excerpt of a brand-new book called We Are All Musicians Now. The premise is simple: over the past few decades, artists have consistently been the canaries in the proverbial coal mine of modern business. Nearly every major technological disruption of the past half-century has impacted musicians first, be it the shift from bricks-and-mortar retail to digital sales, the move from downloads to streaming, and even the rise of NFTs.
If you pay attention to the music world, you can almost predict the future in just about any other industry. I’m going to interview some of the most interesting characters in my Rolodex to explain this theory—and offer prognostications as to where things are going next.
My free subscribers will get one piece every week, while paid subscribers will also get the serialized chapters of We Are All Musicians Now. One of the first topics I’ll cover: how the first true NFT turned out to be the Wu-Tang Clan’s secret album—as you’ll hear from its creator.
Your $5 per month (or $50 per year) covers all the research, editing, fact-checking, and legal costs it takes to make this kind of work a reality. It also gives you unparalleled access and insight into the way things actually operate; no media empires will keep anything hushed up, no publishing houses will deem any topic too risky. And you won’t have to wait two years to read the result on a printed page.
You’ll also get a bunch of other goodies (some of which I’m still pondering). If what you really want is a physical book, become a founding member and I’ll inscribe any one of my previous works and mail it anywhere in the United States. I’ll also include you in the Acknowledgments section of WAAMN and send you a PDF of the whole book as soon as it’s finished.
I think you’re going to love Zogblog and We Are All Musicians Now. At the very least, I can promise they’ll be a better value than The Casual Person.