First, let me apologize to those of you who pre-ordered a subscription to the Hayride 2020 app. Having never built one of these things before, I’ll confess that this project has been the source of no small amount of consternation and disappointment. I fully expected to have a live, working mobile app a couple of months ago. That we’re still short of that mark doesn’t stem from a lack of effort on my part, though I will admit to some errors in decision-making.
Errors which I’ve now corrected, I think.
As such, I’m happy to report we have some movement on The Hayride’s new app. It’s no longer going to be called Hayride 2020. The name we gave to the insider forum, namely The Speakeasy, is going to be the name of the app going forward.
We think Speakeasy is a good moniker and brand for this thing. First of all, it’s being designed for grownups, hence the snazzy logo depicting bourbon and a large ice cube in a tumbler glass, and second it’s an app which is focused on its users and treating them like grownups with the right to free speech. Unlike those other Big Tech monsters out there to whom you as a user are nothing more than a hen in a hatchery or a cow in a dairy, with this app the relationship is different. Facebook and Twitter don’t see you as the customer, which we do. They see you as the product. That’s why they don’t charge you anything – they’re too busy gobbling up all your information and selling it to advertisers and God knows who else for them to data-mine you.
That’s not what we’re interested in.
The more this project has lingered with a lack of progress, the more I’ve thought about what is really out there waiting for all of us where social media and apps are concerned.
And then I found a company called Disciple Media, which builds branded apps for clients all over the world. A few discussions with them gave me a great feeling that I’ve finally found somebody who can do what I want to do with this app.
Accordingly, we’ve switched The Speakeasy to a new platform we think will be more in tune with the times and give us a better opportunity to build something really fun and useful.
What you’ll see here is that rather than a message board format, The Speakeasy is now a social media feed which looks a lot like Facebook or Twitter. We think that will help engagement. It’s already certainly done that. My phone keeps popping with notifications as folks sign up and get involved.
It’s a web app at this point, meaning you can access it on your phone through a browser. By Halloween, if we hit our production target, it’ll be a fully functional mobile app through which you’ll be able to…
(1) get Hayride content ad-free
You’ve told us this is the number one thing you’re looking for out of our app, and we’re listening. It turns out that building this part is a bit harder than I expected, and it’s the main reason this project has taken longer than it should have. But we’re going to make it happen – and when we do, your viewing experience at the site through your mobile device, using the Speakeasy app, will become a million times better. No more annoying popups, no more clunky-looking banners to scroll past, no more occasional trap ads that make you think your device has a virus. All of that will be gone when you’re a subscriber to the app.
(2) access a social stream that will be full of tidbits of information, insider stuff, funny memes and other things you won’t see anywhere (and be able to participate and speak your mind without Jack or Zuck or any of their minions treating you like a naughty five-year-old)
This is what we demonstrated to a small extent with the previous iteration of The Speakeasy when it was set up in a message board format. A social stream is just better, so we’re switching to this. From the standpoint of content creation, there are lots of items out there which constitute worthwhile information to pass along to our readers, but maybe all they really require is a quick comment and a link, or an image, or a paragraph or so. Hayride posts are 300 words or more and we soup them up with images, introductory snippets for SEO purposes and so on. We’ll still post anywhere from seven to 14 of those a day, meaning The Hayride will always be a worthy place to find news even if you’re not a Speakeasy subscriber, but with the app we’ll have the ability to offer far more.
(3) enjoy a budding podcast network we’ll be building which includes an interactive livestream.
People have been bugging me to do a podcast ever since Brian Haldane and I stopped doing the Red Bayou Show. But a podcast is a pain. It’s a lot of work, and if you don’t get it off the ground with thousands of listeners every episode you’ll never be able to monetize all that time. Tucking it into the Speakeasy app means it’s a piece of premium content subscribers can enjoy, which solves the make-it-worth-your-while problem on my end. Plus, there are lots of other podcasts out there looking for an audience and some who already have one, so building out a roster of really good ones, whether they’re exclusive to the app or not, will make this section a must-visit for folks interested in podcasts. Who knows? We might even be able to make the jump from a podcast network to a streaming service down the road.
The relationship we’re seeking is, as mentioned above, not the one Facebook and Twitter have. They don’t care about you, because you’re the PRODUCT, not the customer. With us, you’re the customer. We’re not going to censor you, or fact-check you, or put you in jail, or sell your information. Instead we’ll charge you $2.99 a month, or $29.99 a year. If that’s more money than you can handle, you probably shouldn’t be on social media anyway, because you need a job. For that, you get social media which treats you like a grownup and is responsive to you.
That’s a different model than these other “conservative” or “free speech” social media apps, like Gab or MeWe or Parler or Minds. All of those are better than Facebook and Twitter in that they’re committed not to censor their users, but the differences really stop there. Parler, for example, is better than Facebook or Twitter because they don’t censor their users, but they also don’t offer anything different. You post on Parler like you do on Twitter, and then you get a tenth, at best, of the engagement your tweets would get because the audience is so small.
Our plan is to build something better, which after we’ve perfected The Speakeasy as a production of The Hayride over the last three months of the year you’ll begin to see take shape. This will be a platform where content creators are celebrated and given a chance to actually make a buck or two by coming into a partnership with us, and that’ll mean the stuff you see on The Speakeasy will be better than what’s out there now.
But that’s for later.
For now, until the app is fully constructed, you’re welcome to join and interact without having to pay to subscribe. Soon we’ll offer a discounted deal on pre-payment for the app, but that’ll come later. And for those of you who have already prepaid a subscription to the app in its previous posture, we’ve made a decision to extend your subscription through the end of 2021, in the event you purchased a full year, or through June of 2021 if you’ve purchased a six-month subscription. We want to make sure you get the full value of what you’ve purchased.
So in the meantime, we’d like to welcome you aboard the new app, and to encourage you to take it for a test drive, let us know what you like and don’t like about it, and help us to build it!