Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch


One of the strangest things for me about starting up Souciant is that the site was designed for running ads. In all the years that I was involved with Bad Subjects: Political Education For Everyday Life, we never sold the publication itself -- "Hard. Good. Free" was one of our early slogans -- and never sold advertising for it either.

Ironically, although I was fond of critiquing those who aspired to ideological purity, I was rather fond of our refusal to let ourselves be commercialized. And so were other members of our Production Team. In fact, the decision to allow an anthology of our work to be published by NYU Press was pretty fraught, because several people objected to our work being up for sale in any capacity, even though we had demanded the right to keep every anthologized piece available online for free.

A lot has changed since them. Sources of funding, whether public or private, have dried up. The resources that Bad Subjects leaned on in order to distribute hard copies for free and maintain a presence on the Web are battled over by worthy ventures to a demoralizing degree. Simply put, the price of remaining above the commercial fray is too high even for some of the stoutest advocates of free publishing to pay.

Whether Souciant ever makes enough money to provide support for its staff and contributors remains to be seen. At the very least, it will probably take at least a year before we can even think about how to make progress towards that goal. But that doesn't meant we are trying to keep ourselves pure in the interim. Until we have a deal in place to incorporate a more sophisticated means of serving ads into the site, we are plodding forward with Google AdSense.

It's not generating much revenue for us yet. But we're at least making a little money that we can apply towards the fee we pay for being hosted. And the best part is that many of our click-throughs seem to be of an ironic stamp. Because of the way AdSense works, unintentional comedy is rampant. Sometimes, the accidental montages generated by the relationship between Souciant's content and the ads that pop up are so delicious that they seem like performance art:

The unapologetically blasphemous audio collage rebels in The Christal Methodists meet their match, so to speak, thanks to Google AdSense

If you have ever heard my Co-Editor-in-Chief Joel Schalit's audio collage outfit The Christal Methodists, you will understand how perfect it is to have his piece about their recent rebirth via YouTube running alongside an invitation to become a minister. My mother was always incredibly open minded about music. Hell, she often listened to the records my sister brought home and even became a big Smiths fan. But when I put The Christal Methodists on the stereo one New Year's Eve, she turned white with anger and demanded that I take their "blasphemous noises" off at once. Thinking of that moment when I first saw this particular iteration of Souciant's home page, I couldn't help but smile broadly.
Tags: bad subjects, marketing, new media, souciant

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