Respect To The Loyal User

So it appears that Google is phasing out its Reader service. This is rather annoying because it is the way I follow the vast majority of blogs. Given that it appears they are also phasing out Feedburner, it looks like the writing is on the wall that Google is no longer interested in helping people follow blogs.

So if you are subscribing to this blog via Feedburner, I encourage you to subscribe to my blog directly by using the subscribe by email field to the right——>

I have seen a fair bit of annoyance and anger over the impending disappearance of Google Reader. The strongest came from Maria Popova:

(The language is a little strong so I am placing it after the fold)

Maria Popova

I see this and I wonder if this might be what long time audiences are thinking, but are too polite to say, when performing arts organizations cancel performances due to financial troubles and labor disputes. Snow storm and sickness cancellations can’t be avoided, but business decisions like that of Google or labor related cancellations in the middle of the season (or after a lot of ticket money/donations have been collected) can seem more like something that could be anticipated and with good planning and sincerity, avoided.

Recalling what Andrew McIntyre said in his Arts Marketing is Dead: Long Live the Audience talk (which I covered here), it is a mistake to think people are not invested in your organization just because they haven’t subscribed. According to his research, people who hadn’t attended in 4 years still identified strongly with an arts organization and thought it had only been a year since they attended.

If that is true, the actual reprecussions of a cancellation on general goodwill can be more far reaching than one might anticipate.

Add into that the fact that younger audiences may not feel the need to be as polite as older audiences and may express, as Popova does, their true sentiments on social media.

That said, I think if you do need to enact something that will be unpopular with your constituents, it may be best to be direct and acknowledge the impact rather than use a euphemism like “sunset period.” People may be angry, but at least they can’t fault you for using some sort of duplicitous double speak.

One thing I haven’t seen arts organizations do, thankfully, is try to explain away an inconvenience like a bankruptcy reorganization or firing/laying off musicians by framing it as a “reorganization in order to serve you better.” Given some of the board actions I have read about, I wouldn’t discount that approach.

N.B. Hah, no sooner did I hit publish when I remembered and verified a place that has recently closed, let go of all the staff and is employing euphemisms and sentiments akin to the “in order to serve you better” while suggesting an eventual return. I want to attribute it more to awkwardness than being smarmy. Still, it doesn’t feel entirely sincere.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


1 thought on “Respect To The Loyal User”

  1. A slight correction; Feedburner hasn’t been phased out, and I haven’t been able to find any credible suggestion anywhere that it will be. What WAS phased out was the feedburner API, which allowed third-party software to monitor a Feedburner feed to provide additional metrics.

    From what I have seen, one blogger misunderstood what the API did, and a rival company fanned the disinformation to encourage people to try their paid service.

    That said, I’m exploring my options. I won’t use email subscriptions; I get too much crap already. Blogs without RSS feeds are going to become blogs I no longer follow.


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