“How many of you expect to make your living from creating or providing content?”

Close to half of the audience responded by raising their hands up.

When I asked the same audience:

“How many of you believe that you should pay for content?”

Less than a dozen people kept their hands up…

via Vincent Laforet’s Blog.

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  1. This perfectly sums up the state of so many industries. As photographers/artists we cry because rates have gone down, but at the same time we don’t like paying for digital content either, especially over the internet.

    We have to get over this ‘digital content via the internet is free or cheap’ mentality. It’s killing a ton of industries and will continue to do so.

  2. a year later, there were only six people in the audience…

  3. This shows that the mentality that created the dot com bubble and subsequent burst is still with us. Create content for which few (including you) want to pay, but expected to paid. These folks meed to take some basic economy and business classes. They don’t seem to understand that money is a lot like Karma: what goes around comes around…

  4. We need to know how many people was in the audience in order to get the moral of the story.

  5. One must be sufficiently compensated to be able to afford gifts.

  6. I think one problem that first needs to be solved is a payment mechanism. Next would be the content network. If I could pay a fee monthly to a single payment system and it gives me access to a range of content providers like Time, Slate, New Yorker and other premium content providers then I would do it. If there was a way for me to even get a set of tokens under my monthly plan and as I loaded up articles my tokens would give me access to that content I would be on board. I currently do this with Safari Books Online which includes many book publishers so that I have rich selection of content. Each month with my membership I am given a number of tokens that I can use to generate PDF downloads of chapters from the books. I can also place 10 books on my bookshelf which stay on the bookshelf for a few weeks at a time before I can remove it to place another book on the shelf. It works well for me and I expect my monthly fee is distributed according to my usage. I’d like the same to be done for magazines, news sites (I resist calling them newspapers) and even video. I think of what HBO would do if they were not so closely tied to the cable industry. What I could purchase 20 tokens a month for premium cable and 2 tokens get me a movie and 1 token gets me one episode of the shows that is produced by these premium providers? Then I could watch movies and episodes as I choose and throttle my monthly rate based on my usage. And I’d like my tokens to carry over from month to month since there will be those weeks where I have more down time to watch some shows and watch a marathon of my favorite show. If they do this, I expect more people would start paying for content and the content creators would have a more reliable income stream than just advertising.

  7. It is interesting that the pervasive attitude toward content is that it should be free, and even more interesting, is the growing sentiment that all content should be democratically crowd-sourced in both creation and distribution, i.e. news should no longer be a “profession” and there is no longer a need for editors, “gatekeepers” and corporate media. The crowd will now make those choices, and to an increasing extent that is coming true. Of course this ignores the issue of “craft” and skill as if everyone can create compelling content, and do it in their spare time for free. It’s just weird. Is this related to everyone getting a trophy at the kids soccer match, even the losing team, or just the pervasive sense of entitlement in the youngest generation? And based on the previous sentence, am I really getting that old?

    • I’ve never heard or seen of this ‘pervasive’ attitude. At least, not among reasonable people of any age. I’m sure there’s some crackpots who think everything can be crowd-sourced, but, if anything, there’s a cry for more professionalism and depth in journalism.

      For that to happen though, you have to separate journalism from big-media advertising and all that ills that method of funding has spawned. When your main method of making money requires as many eyes as possible to consume the content, it becomes a race to the bottom of short, titillating content.

      There’s plenty of market out there for-pay easy to access digital content. ex: iTunes didn’t kill piracy, but piracy didn’t kill iTunes.

      I do believe it will take an outsider to shake up the media market though. The crusty execs in NY can’t see past their own dismal spreadsheets.

    • Hey Tom, both and more. Even the soccer situation goes back to the people growing up in the ’60’s and putting every crappy drawing on the refrigerator. Now it’s photographs. By the way, nice story in Burn.

    • Yes, Tom we are getting older yet wiser. I can understand the bewilderment of the younger generation. I am not sure how they think we don’t need gate keepers, I have witnessed an anomaly though, they start getting older and become more decisive and want others to do their part, whatever it may be. So there may be a realization that gate keepers are needed to ensure quality content is created no matter the medium. I think there is hope and the more seasoned generations need to find a way to impart the wisdom accrued so it can be used, modified to meet the changes in technology.

  8. We are the problem, if we chose to do nothing or we give work away, its up to us to educate as to how and why. I hear and see youth coming into the market and doing work for free just so they can get a credit in a magazine. No point pointing at others when there is 3 dirty fingers in some case pointing back at us.

  9. Let’s not apply old to new. Paying for online content is not gonna happen.

  10. ‘Not paying for content’ is not a moral choice, nor a collective habit. People can’t change their minds about it. It is the result of digitalisation, ie. the transition from analog to digital media, ie. computerisation.

    In short, analog business models are based on the inadequacies of analog media. When applied to digital media, the business model no longer matches reality. What do you do when your business is based on the power to invest in a printing press when everyone has a printing press in their smart phone?

    ‘Not paying for content’ is not killing industries. Computers and networks are.

    The newspaper, in particular, has so much going against it, it’s like a typewriter facing off against a MacBook Air.

    The problem is we need journalism. How do we fund journalism now that newspapers are becoming obsolete?

  11. Digital is DIY and it will eventually destroy all specialties and professions.

    • Nah (I hope my doctor doesn’t become crowdsourced…) but I do think it will eliminate the advantages of conglomeration.

      Big media companies are like big banks. Pre-internet age they controlled the means of production and distribution – million dollar presses, tv networks, mainframe computers and networks to move money around. This is huge capital infrastructure, and so a big company made sense. But now, they’re dinosaurs. They’re big, dumb, slow. And they’re going extinct. I think 2012 will see the beginning of the end of the big bank and big media. Lots of spin-offs. The actual business entities become more regional and local.

      The demand is still there for local news, for good journalism. Has the decline of the record company and radio ended the demand for music? iTunes makes money hand over fist, and they pay artists a lot better than the labels did.

  12. A single media source will not survive unless it has a way to provide income. I have to look at it this way, I can’t keep a roof over my head, pay, bills, etc., unless I charge for what I do. Media, no matter the venue has to charge for their content, if they don’t they can’t keep the roof that is over their head, etc.

    I think what is free and what is placed behind a paywall is the toughest part to determine. Establishing subscription programs is really not that difficult. You have sources for purchasing subscriptions like PayPal, Amazon, iBook, and the such. Frankly I am surprised that someone hasn’t come up with the discount digital subscription program (If anyone uses this idea I get 10%, I’m not greedy or I’d say a higher percentage) similar to what is available for paper editions.

    A couple of different people have made great suggestions about and also point to issues that are a result of the seasoned generations not taking action to be a part of the solution to resolve the decline in compensation. We can have a voice and try to help publishers to get pay-walls up. We can be gate keepers too. JMHO

  13. Interesting points but any expectation of the seasoned steering the collective will of the newly minted is unrealistic. We are on the bus but in the back and in no way anywhere near the driver’s seat; that’s the point, those days are over. We need to do better? No, we need to make sure we’re on the right bus, then hold on and be prepared to transfer many times. Exponential communication innovation is driven by the collective and, likely, by the most plastic of young minds.

  14. Yes, we need do better, we can do better, because so many opportunities in our country, we can do a lot of thing to make us happy, thanks for your share!!!!!!

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