Discover more from The Honest Broker
The 20 Greatest Hits of The Honest Broker
We celebrate our 2nd birthday today—so I look back at the most popular articles of the last 12 months
Today we celebrate our second birthday at The Honest Broker. That’s not much in human years, but things move faster on the web.
In just the last few days, for example, I’ve witnessed Twitter launch two wars against Substack. Elon Musk’s huge rocket (named Starship) actually exploded on its maiden voyage yesterday in karmic response. It’s almost like a Mission Impossible movie around here.
And it’s not even Record Store Day yet.
The Honest Broker is a Reader-Supported Guide to Music, Books, Media & Culture. Both free and paid subscriptions are available. If you want to support my work, the best way is by taking out a paid subscription.
Below I’ll share the ranking of the most popular articles of the last 12 months. But first let me celebrate the highlights of a remarkable year.
I should call it a surprising year—because so many things happened here that I didn’t expect. Almost all of them positive.
Subscribers received 170 articles during the last 12 months. Even I find that hard to believe. I started out at a slower rate when I launched The Honest Broker, but readership grew when the pace picked up. This runs counter to everything I was taught about scarcity value—but most of what we do here seems to violate some rule.
Subscription numbers skyrocketed in the last 12 months—from 12,000 to 60,000. This is also a surprise, far beyond anything anticipated when launching. Face it, I’m a jazz writer—we usually count the audience on our fingers and rarely need to take off our socks. So where all of you came from is a grand mystery. But a pleasing one.
And there’s no sign of any slowdown. In fact, growth has accelerated in recent months. It’s likely we will reach 100,000 before the end of the year. I’ll have to throw a party or something.
I also decided to publish my new book on Substack. I’m doing that at the pace of one chapter per month, more or less.
But the best thing is an intangible—that’s the gradual emergence of a community here. The Substack folks get a lot of credit for this. They have focused on creating ‘network effects’ (as they describe it). At first I didn’t have a bloody clue what they were talking about. But they actually knew what they were doing, because there’s a palpable sense of community at The Honest Broker, and also in the larger world of Substack.
So you get loads of credit too. The quality of the comments is perhaps the most striking example of this. But I hear from many of you in other ways, and have come to realize what an unusually gifted demographic has gathered here. This is deeply gratifying to me, and probably many of you as well.
“Somehow we fought the law—and this time the law didn’t win.”
Now let’s move on to the popularity contest. Below are the 20 most viewed articles of the last 12 months.
20 Most Popular Articles from The Honest Broker (Year 2)
Some readers have asked me to narrow my focus here. But you can see from this list why I can’t really do that.
There’s really no rhyme or reason to what goes viral. The list of most popular articles covers everything from King Tut to TikTok.
For example, I would have never guessed that an update on a bookstore would have topped the list—with more than 400,000 views. But that’s exactly what happened. And the second most popular article was an advice column. Go figure.
As noted above, the publishing world considers me a music writer—to the extent I’m considered anything (other than a pain to deal with). But 7 out of the top 10 articles have little to do with music. A surprising number aren’t even about arts or entertainment.
Of course, my plan from the start was to push the limits. I warned that on day one. The fact that you have come along with me on this ride is the real surprise. The conventional wisdom in publishing is that this degree of unpredictability in the offering would kill any newsletter or column. Readers would rebel.
But somehow we fought that law—and this time the law didn’t win.
We will do more lawbreaking in the next year. You’re my partners in this outlaw endeavor. Feel free to enlist others to join our gang of desparados. The ruckus is just starting.
I’m off now to blow out the birthday candles, but before leaving let me thank each of you for your support.