In real life we pay.
For movies. For books. For newspapers. For music.
But something happens to us when we get online. Our wallets tighten.
Paywalls aggravate us. Shelling out money for apps and music is an annoyance. I have some friends who are outraged by apps that cost more than $0.99 when they have no problem shelling out five bucks for a domestic beer at the local watering hole.
Other colleagues won’t buy music when they can rent it from Spotify. We’re not above illegal downloads of movies. We revel in visiting free sites for news.
We’re cheap online.
But here’s a fact we can’t avoid. Quality content costs money to create. No content creator can afford to give content away in the long-term if they want to do things like eat. Because content is their product. Let’s see Apple try to make a living if it were forced to give away their iPads and iPhones.
I’m in the minority here, but I’m hoping that the era of free content is going to come to a close. Soon. That we’ll all kind of chuckle about this “free” era in the decades to come. The refrain will be: “What were we thinking?”
Because if we don’t start to pay for quality content all we’ll end up with is content without the quality. Or content that has been manufactured for us from brands and companies to market to us.
Let’s face the facts – free stuff usually isn’t as good as the stuff you pay for. That goes for furniture, food, cars, technology and, of course, content. Sure the chair you pick up from the curb for free might suit your needs for a while (if you can get that weird stain out of the cushion and don’t mind the bugs), but no one in their right mind would think it was as good as a hand-crafted solid wood Heurtley House Spindle Back Chair for $2,000.
Quality comes with a price tag.
That’s not to say that you can’t score great free content. A lot of blogs I read regularly have excellent content. But I have to admit that none of the “free” blogs I read contains the depth or level of sophistication of the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal.
While free content has been a boon for the Internet and technology companies overall it has been a disaster for content creators, especially for musicians and journalists.
So ask yourself: Will you pay for content?
Tina Brown: “We Don’t Respect Content Anymore” via MediaBistro