We’ve been fairly explicit in recent days about our disgust with Big Tech and what it’s doing to free speech. That leads to a common question we hear from our readers and others: what do we do about it? Well, we all have a part to play, but here at The Hayride we’ve been working on our own contribution and we can announce, finally, that our mobile app The Speakeasy is here for your viewing pleasure.
We’ve had a beta version of The Speakeasy available for a couple of months, and a thousand or so of our readers have been taking it out for a spin But that was the web app version. The mobile app which is available on both major app stores has more bells and whistles and is a lot more reflective of our vision for what this thing will become.
And that vision is for The Speakeasy to be much more than just a mobile app for Hayride readers. We’ll come to that in a bit.
There are three major features the app will encompass. The first is a news feed, which will begin with an aggregation of The Hayride’s content which app members can get totally ad free. Our readers have told us quite loudly that they want an ad free mobile experience, and The Speakeasy is the vehicle for it. Through the news feed you’ll get a very clean, easy-to-read experience here at the site.
The second, which has been up for a while but the new mobile app version offers an enhanced version of it, is a social feed not dissimilar to Facebook or Twitter. It’s better, in that we aren’t going to do any of the arbitrary, opaque and capricious censorship of our users that the Big Tech tyrants are so famous for, but the basic experience will be very recognizable.
As an aside, we want to emphasize that we’re coming about this in a totally different way than Big Tech does. If you’re a Facebook or Twitter user, and frankly this is true of Parler as well, there’s a reason they don’t charge you for your account. The reason is, you’re the product, not the customer. They capture your personal information and they use it against you in order to let advertisers hypertarget you in a creepy, manipulative way. That’s why they treat you like a child – they’ll scold you, “fact-check” you, shadowban you, put you in jail and so on.
Because they don’t care about you. You’re a hen in a hatchery, a cow in a dairy.
The Speakeasy isn’t built on that. We want a different relationship with our users. We want you to be a customer. It’s in a free-look stage right now, but it’ll cost $2.99 a month, or $29.99 for an annual subscription which will offer two months free, in a couple of weeks.
That subscription creates a relationship between us which insures a better user experience. It also allows us to give away ad-free Hayride content.
You’ll notice once you jump on The Speakeasy that there is a pretty sensational amount of engagement for such a nascent community. With a little over a thousand people as of this writing, you’d think there were ten times that many of us. And the folks get along, which is something we think is not an accident.
The third element, which comes on line next week, is we’ll be building a podcast network starting with the debut of my return to the podcasting game. My podcast is going to be called The Post-Republic, and it’s going to be an interactive livestreaming extravaganza appearing a couple of days a week. But mine won’t be the only one. Within a couple of months we’ll have a half-dozen or more of them, and we have big plans for the podcast network to grow into something much more.
The second phase of this, which we’ll begin developing this spring after we’ve done a proof-of-concept with The Hayride’s readership, is to bring other publishers in to develop channels within the app. Those other publishers – whether they’re blogs and websites, podcasters, YouTubers, authors or what have you – will be sharing in the subscription revenue. Why is this a big deal? Because it points to another colossal problem with Facebook and Twitter and the others: they screw content creators unmercifully. Content creators are the people who really drive traffic to social media sites, and content creators are the people who generate large followings on those platforms. But Facebook and Twitter don’t offer any way for them to monetize those presences. The way it’s supposed to work is they’re dragging people back to their websites, and then they can monetize the traffic therein.
Except it doesn’t work that way anymore, because digital ad networks – a market segment completely dominated by Google, with Facebook and Amazon having small pieces as well – pay publishers almost nothing these days.
So as a content creator building a channel on The Speakeasy, which would be analogous to a cross between a Facebook page and a YouTube channel, depending on how they decide to use it, you earn revenue directly both from people you bring into the app and then from the size of the following of your channel.
Nobody is doing this now. It’s pretty much a brand new idea. And when we’ve bounced it off some content creators as a concept to say they’ve been enthusiastic is absolutely not sufficient. We think it’s going to result in more and better content in The Speakeasy than on any of these other platforms.
So jump on in and check it out. Head over to either the Google or Apple app store, depending on what kind of phone you’re using, and search “the speakeasy.” Look for the yellow cocktail glass logo against the charcoal background and join us in a new free-speech-committed social app with a heart and a free-market capitalist brain!