Depending on who you ask, Substack is either a haven for writers who have flounced away from their journalism jobs claiming that Cancel Culture forced them out, or a platform that allows writers to actually (maybe) pay their bills without relying on a media company owned by a fickle tech billionaire (or spending half their lives chasing down payments for freelance work). One thing is undeniable, though: Substack has thrown a lot of money at writers, including, as of recently, Patti Smith.
Substack announced on its Twitter account that the iconic singer-songwriter—and National Book Award-winning author—had joined its platform. In her first dispatch, Smith describes, in a very Smith-ish way, the tiered content of the newsletter.
Each week I will post my weekly ruminations, shards of poetry, music, and musings on whatever subject finds its way from thought to pen, news of the mind, pieces of this world, free to all.
She later clarifies that [paid] subscribers ($7 a month or $70 a year for a paid subscription, or $210 a year to become a “founding member”—unclear when that includes) will have access to The Melting, her “first serial.”
No one has read these pages. A journal of my private pandemic. My first entry was exactly one year ago, on April 7th, the night before the full Worm Moon.
In case you’re not ready to commit, Smith is planning to post the first few entries for free. Full disclosure: I have never read her books, but a friend of mine told me that Just Kids includes a number of sections that read like really arty versions of those “What’s In My Bag” features in women’s magazines, which seems like precisely what I want from an email newsletter.
Does this mean Substack is punk rock? Well, to quote Smith herself, “Punk rock is the freedom to create, freedom to be successful, freedom to not be successful, freedom to be who you are. It’s freedom.” Okay!