New York Times Audio App

“Introducing a New Audio App for Our Journalism and Storytelling -New York Times Audio provides news, depth and serendipity.”:

This was not supposed to happen. New players were supposed to come along, disrupt the the staid Grey Lady and leave it in the dust. But just the opposite is happening. Vice and BuzzFeed news failed. And in a world of too many messages, too many unresearched and false, the “Times” has more impact than it ever has. You may hate it, but it’s affecting your life even if you avoid it, because the “Times” sets the agenda for the whole world, the right needs something to rebel against, there’s not an equivalent right wing newsgathering source, mostly there’s opinion, and at the end of the day people want facts.

And they want to be informed.

Sure, many people don’t care about the news, but if you’re hungry for it, the “Times” is the place to go. It has more reporters in more places than competitors and a bigger newshole and…

You’ve got to pay for it.

Oh, you can read ten articles a month for free. 

But that’s not enough.

Assuming you’re into the news.

So you subscribe. It’s cheap. Assuming you’re willing to pay.

That’s the hurdle, getting people to pay. But once you’re unconcerned with reaching everybody, knowing that your power is so great that you reach everybody anyway, via outside forces, you can charge.

Even worse for competitors, although there are news junkies like myself who will subscribe to multiple papers, most people will only pay for one. Or maybe two. The local, and the “New York Times.” I mean if you’re paying, why not get the best?

I’m not saying the “Washington Post” and the “Wall Street Journal” are bad, I pay for them, but they’re a noticeable step behind the “Times.” After Trump left office, WaPo subscriptions stalled. But the “Times”‘s did not.

And then the “Times” started to diversify, build upon its empire. All the news is about Elon Musk and Twitter, but the real story is the “Times.”

There’s the “Wirecutter,” the “Athletic,” “Cooking” and “Games,” with the “Crossword.” You can pay for them individually, but the bundle is so much more appealing. Apple’s bundle? Not a deal. The “Times”‘s? A no-brainer.

So there was just a stealth introduction of the Audio app. I read about it yesterday and downloaded it, today the “Times” pushed me a notice in its app (as for notifications…the only ones I allow are from Libby, for library books, I don’t need an endless scroll…then again, I’m checking my phone constantly during the day…oh, I can put it down for dinner, but if I’m alone…except at night, bugs me when people tell me not to text them late, don’t they turn off the sound…but too many are Luddites…especially in this 24/7 world where people are waking up when you’re going to bed).

All the podcast apps…put up everything, like Spotify. And most of it is junk. Poorly recorded people speaking inanities. You have to separate the wheat from the chaff. But even worse, it’s hard to find great stuff under the morass. But on the “Times” Audio app…

It’s a walled garden. For subscribers only.

And it’s got breaking news. Know how the podcast you’re listening to from this morning is already out of date? Well, the “Times” is now publishing news/podcasts later in the day, after events have transpired.

So you’ve got a cornucopia of “Times” content. Some brand new.

But you also have curated content from other outlets. But a very limited number. In terms of publishers, there’s the “Atavist,” “Foreign Policy,” “Mother Jones,” the “New Republic,” “New York,” “Outside” and “Rolling Stone.” I.e. there is CURATION!

This is what has been promised in music for more than a decade which has not arrived. Playlists never lived up to the hype, because there are too many tune-outs and not enough people are listening to any one to create mass. For a minute there we had Tuma Basa’s Rap Caviar, but then he left Spotify for YouTube and he’s now nearly irrelevant. The imprimatur of the organization means something, and most people don’t follow you to your new home (remember this Tucker Carlson), and Rap Caviar has lost its luster on Spotify because personalities matter, and now there’s no longer a recognizable face.

What we’re looking for is a very few tracks that most of us listen to. But all the record companies and independent creators don’t want to be left out, so we’ve got zillions of trash tracks on the streaming outlets. But if someone only put up the best…we could have a more cohesive music business.

But no one has the power of the “Times” in music.

So now if you’re looking for a podcast…

Well, first the “Times” is timely. And that makes a difference in news. But also, the choices are limited, so you can comprehend the landscape.

The “Times” also has “This American Life,” but overall it’s got little, in an overwhelming world of too much.

So what’s your first stop? Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon, Stitcher, individual publishers’ sites or…the “Times”?

The “Times” sits above. It’s not for everybody, but somebodies. It’s a club, and if you don’t belong…

This is not Facebook, the great unwashed intimidating each other with falsehoods.

This is authorized, curated, appealing to the intelligentsia, who drive this world. And so many people want to consider themselves members of the intelligentsia.

The “Times”‘s the “Daily” is already the number one podcast on so many platforms. That’s what people want. So it’s a no-brainer to start at the “Times” Audio app, assuming you’re a subscriber. And if you’re not, the “Times” just made it more enticing.

And I was listening to Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway talk about the twentysomething who bought “Forbes” for $800 million…insane! But what was mentioned is that the “Times” is not a great business. What they meant was it’s not a tech company minting billionaires.

But that’s something the public has forgotten in this income inequality world wherein the rich have been venerated. It’s not about money, it’s about power. And sure, sometimes money yields power, but if you can speak truth to power, if you’re perceived as not being beholden to the almighty dollar, then you’re more powerful than all of the richies, assuming you have mass.

The “Times” has mass.

Forget the locals already, we need local news but the model is broken. To the point that papers have slimmed down to maintain profits and there’s nothing left. Everybody in L.A. used to read the “Los Angeles Times,” now almost everybody I know has given up their subscription. You can feel good if your album is hyped in the “Los Angeles Times,” but it means next to nothing, because no one sees it, or those who do are those who don’t matter!

Is this the future? A walled garden with fewer offerings?

I mean Amazon cocked up its site with ads and inferior products from China. The Everything Store really shouldn’t have absolutely everything.

But really, when it comes to intellectual as opposed to physical objects…you can’t read everything, you want someone to clarify the scene.

The “Times” is the first major to do so successfully.

We’ll see if anybody else can replicate their model.

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