After more than 25 years of publication, SECRETS is faced with a situation that requires actions that I never thought I would need to even consider.
The COVID-19 virus crisis has caused many of our advertisers to pull back on existing contracts and potential new advertisers to defer decisions. Unfortunately, these actions have forced us into a financial deficit position that we cannot sustain.
I want to keep the lights on for our SECRETS team and our hundreds of thousands of readers, and we need to take some, hopefully, short-term actions to try to do that. I am outlining these actions here, and I certainly look for your advice and suggestions. We are in this together. But first, I want to give some thanks to the SECRETS team and our sponsors who have been supporting us and continue to work with us through this time and a bit of background of what we, as a closely held family business, have been through over the past twelve years.
Thank you to our Co-Editors, who have been managing the website for the past number of years, along with our Managing Editor, my daughter, Cynthia. Specifically, I want to thank Chris Eberle, Robert Kozel, Jim Clements, Piero Gabucci, and Carlo Lo Raso for their support as I have been battling a rare cancer, first diagnosed 12 years ago. I could not keep up my active presence at shows and on the website and was not available at times because of my treatment, but I don’t think that my health situation was widely known, and I had hoped to keep it that way. I have been through several surgeries, the latest one about 2 years ago. Even though my cancer has metastasized, I am currently in remission and feeling well. SECRETS did not “miss a beat,” and that is a huge tribute to the leadership of our Co-Editors, Managing Editor, and our SECRETS Senior Editors and writers.
The SECRETS team did not come together overnight. Over 25 years ago, we started with myself and a core handful of dedicated enthusiasts. As SECRETS grew, we welcomed and cultivated new talent as others continued to other adventures, both personal and within the industry. We currently have over 20 talented writers and Editors on staff. Each has unique perspectives, yet all share the same passion and enthusiasm for audio and video that has been a hallmark of our website since its inception. SECRETS has never been a monolithic entity regarding its writing staff. Some prefer to take a subjective view of this hobby, while others take a more objective approach. Either way, just like the industry we cover, we like to think that we offer a little something for everyone.
I want to thank our current sponsors who have supported and continue to support SECRETS with their advertising, even through this economically challenging time: Paradigm/Anthem & MartinLogan, Pass Labs, Lenbrook, Harman, Bryston, Auralic, BenQ, The McIntosh Group, Legacy Audio, HiFiMAN and recent sponsors including Clarus, RBH and FIBBR. It would not be possible to run this enterprise without the financial support of audio and video industry leaders, who find what we do valuable. I made a decision over 25 years ago to make all SECRETS content available to readers with no fee and, unlike some other websites, we do not have the subscription base of a hard copy magazine to support our online presence. Most importantly, I have not entered into any “affiliate” programs where we are paid a percentage of product sales; I feel that to do so invalidates the objectivity of any product reviews.
So, in the current situation, we are faced with a major revenue shortfall, which necessitates the need to reduce expenses and make some operational changes.
Advertising revenue is our only source of income. Due to the pandemic, which has caused canceled contracts and delayed payments, our current revenue stream is insufficient to sustain our operations at the current pace.
We are taking steps to reduce and defer our expenses, which impacts our great technical support teams and our highly-respected SECRETS team, until we can repair the revenue flow.
Operationally we will need to slow the product review publication pace and add publication content of opinion pieces, technical articles, and some features. To that end, we invite our sponsors and our readers to submit technical articles and OpEds. We do have a significant number of product reviews underway, but looking out to June and July, we anticipate a slowdown in the review pipeline. Many manufacturers have been forced to halt operations, which means that review products are not readily available.
My intent is that we will weather this crisis intact, with the support of our readers, our SECRETS team, our technical teams, and our advertisers.