Matt Reed shares the best independent newsletters you should follow and why.
Imagine opening up your email and there’s something you actually want to read. Substack is a platform that allows anyone to start their own newsletter, with every article sent directly to their subscribers’ inbox.
Substack attracts around 16 million people to their website every month, with over 500,000 subscribers paying for a flood of distinct newsletters. Here are five top-tier newsletters to get you started:
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Having left her staff jobs at Vulture and New York Magazine in late November, Hunter Harris took to recreating media on her own terms. As the internet’s de facto tastemaker of all things pop culture, Harris’s newsletter Hung Up has been a huge hit with her pre-established audience as well as new converts. When she presses pause to dissect her latest thoughts, be it Reformation’s email formatting or how men are in their ugliest iteration yet, you know it’s going to be a ride – and one where it feels like she’s sat right next to you.
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Emily Atkin’s HEATED is one of the most popular Substacks going. After just two months of paywalled newsletter writing, she was making a six-figure yearly income from 2,000 paid subscribers. The fervent depth to her reporting adds clarity to the endless stream of climate news and provides everything you need to stay in the loop on one of our biggest societal challenges this century.
The caveat is that Atkin is US-based and focused. For an equally fascinating look at British ecology and conservation through long-reads (like colonialism’s imprint on the British countryside) and weekly UK news roundups that I’m yet to see replicated in-depth elsewhere, Sophie Yeo’s InkCap is a must-read.
One of the most cogent writers on football that you’ll find, Grace Robertson’s newsletter ‘Grace on Football’ engages you with her novel use of statistics, Premier League insight and great sense of humour (see her Twitter for more of the same). If you want bigger picture discussion the mainstream outlets won’t touch, look no further. Comunicado Oficial.
Music Journalism Insider is a touchstone for any music aficionado. Created by Todd Burns, former Editor-in-Chief of Red Bull Music Academy and Resident Advisor, the world’s only trade publication for music journalists provides deep-dives, news, and interviews from inside the music machine (both with musicians and those writing about it). Whether it’s a short history of music in the Soviet Union or simply a list of the week’s most interesting music podcasts, Music Journalism Insider is the exclusive track you want to be on.
— Venkatesh Rao (@vgr) September 22, 2020
Venkatesh Rao, a writer infamous for founding Ribbon Farm (a long-form blog for ‘unusual takes’), is also the creator of the website turned newsletter-podcast Breaking Smart. Besides creating great brand names, Rao supplies weekly, in-depth coverage of all things technology alongside series about the future of the nation state (After Westphalia), temporality (The Clockless Clock) and my favourite serialisation, The Great Weirding, an essay collection focusing on global transformations since 2016.