Evan's Blorg

Context you may need for my dumb stories about The Music Magazine

June 18, 2017

I used to be the tech lead for a Major Music Magazine’s website. I didn’t work for the magazine itself, though, due to complicated boring corporate stuff that you don’t care about, and thus I will definitely explain it to you.

The Magazine came from an old-school print tradition, didn’t have tech people in-house, and frankly resented that it needed an online presence. So it found a series of sucker tech companies to partner with; in the case of my sucker tech company, at least, the deal was that they provided all the content, we built the whole site, they had creative control and design authority, we did all the ad sales, we got the vast majority of the ad revenue.

This may sound on the face of it like a pretty okay way to do things. The magazine has a bunch of content and needs a website; the tech company can build websites but doesn’t have the content. Cool, right?

The trick is that this meant two companies from different industries on opposite coasts had to work together and agree on everything. “Cross-corporation consensus” is a phrase that should strike fear in the heart of anyone who’s ever worked with a third-party.

The other trick is that the companies had completely opposite incentives. The Magazine had bore none of the cost of engineering, and made essentially no money off the ads. The Tech Company bore the whole engineering cost, and got all its revenue from the ads. Recall, if you will, that the magazine had design control, and thus control of the cost that its tech partner will have to pay.

So on the one side you have a magazine that is getting a free thing built for them, with no skin in the game to keep them from making ridiculously complicated designs; on the other, you have a tech company that wants to build this thing completely on the cheap with a skeleton staff. Maybe in some alternate timeline both parties realized they were critical to each other’s success, and this worked out beautifully as they both labored to make their partner delighted.

It didn’t happen in this timeline, though! Haha everything was fucked


Picture of EvanWritten by Evan Stoner, who is this guy wearing glasses in the dark. You can find him on Twitter or GitHub, but the open web is nicer.