Dear Free Haters: No One Has Said 'Everything' Is Free

from the once-again. dept

This is getting rather repetitive, but it seems that industry execs and lobbying groups who hate the fact that they have to "compete with free" consistently like to trot out tired old (and inaccurate) lines about how "you can't make money if everything's free." Except that's a total strawman. The latest to do this is Eric Baptiste, head of the International Confederation of Authors and Composers Societies (CISAC). In an interview with The Register, Baptiste repeatedly claims "there is no business if everything is for free." It's the kind of statement everyone has to agree with... minus the fact that it's totally meaningless. No one is suggesting that everything be free. What people are suggesting is that there are some things that it makes sense to offer for free, and some things that it makes sense to charge for. The trick (and it's really not that tricky) is understanding which is which. But, rather than helping folks like Baptiste are misleading their own constituents by making statements claiming that we're moving to a world where "everything is free."

What's funny is he even seems to implicitly realize this with his next statement:
When you listened to commercial radio or watched the BBC or bought CDs, all those things are paid for one way or another - not always by the public directly, but advertising and payment and license fee all created a stream of money. Licenses are being granted and the authors are being compensated, it's a real economy. When you move from this to nothing, to "everything is free", that's not a real economy. And nobody knows how to make the world spin with those rules.
The first part is exactly right. Not everything is paid for by the consumer directly. But the second part is dead wrong. No one is suggesting any business model where "everything is free." Everyone's been focusing on ways to take some stuff as being free and use it to make other stuff more valuable and worth paying for. And it's working. So why is Baptiste pretending that people are pushing "everything is free"? It's because the new business models upset the apple cart for an organization like CISAC, which wants to create a big collective licensing deal (collective licensing is easy, compared to actually giving people a reason to buy).

His real fear isn't that "everything is free," because that's not happening at all. His real fear is that the new business models don't require groups like CISAC. But, of course, he gets away with it, because reporters never seem to challenge completely bogus statements like that we're heading into a world where "everything is free."


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    angry dude, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 10:11am

    T-shirts, idiots

    LOOOOOOts of T-shirts !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    That's where the money is !!!

     

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    SRJCollege@gmail.com, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 10:41am

    You can even charge for music.

    I pay for all my music, every bit of it, but I buy it by the byte...not the song. It seems fair to me.

    I pay for it because the value of a quality encoding every download outweighs the 7-12 cents I pay for a song.

    google it.

     

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    Designerfx (profile), Jun 5th, 2009 @ 11:01am

    shh

    please, let them keep saying this stuff and remaining stupid, etc. It leaves the rest of us a better market to use.

     

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      DJ, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 11:42am

      Re: shh

      Ah if only that were true. Unfortunately, however, legislators see these bogus comments and pass laws to uphold them.

      Thankfully no one has yet figured out a way to pass a law upholding "there is no business if everything is free", but I guarantee SOMEONE is out there trying....

       

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        Tgeigs (profile), Jun 5th, 2009 @ 11:47am

        Re: Re: shh

        You'll probably have one of the two dumbass parties want to put it in the constitution, so we don't all forget, just like another idiotic attempt to add an amendment...

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 11:03am

    If someone wants to give away something for free (like the open source community) what's wrong with that? It's not our fault that Microsoft can't compete.

     

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      DJ, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 1:50pm

      Re:

      I agree. However, the only problem is that if you make a superior quality product and then give it away, you just shot yourself in the foot.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 2:10pm

        Re: Re:

        Not necessarily. First of all it gives you a good reputation which could help with advancing your career. Secondly, many people want to build good software just to help others, shouldn't that itself be an end? That's partly why many people in the public domain often does contribute to free and open source (ie: GPL) software and operating systems. It shouldn't be considered shooting oneself in the foot, I see no reason for you to discourage this kind of behavior (unless you work for Microsoft or someone else and you want to discourage better competition).

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 2:13pm

        Re: Re:

        "However, the only problem is that if you make a superior quality product and then give it away, you just shot yourself in the foot."

        This is like saying, "if you donate money to charity you just shot yourself in the foot." Should people not be charitable?

         

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        Eldakka, Jun 8th, 2009 @ 9:16pm

        Re: Re:

        Why's that?

        I'd rather give away 100 million copies of my wordprocessor and be paid $10/year by 20% of those people ($200mill/year) for support than to sell 1 million copies at $200/each ($200mill).

        The money's the same in the end, but I'd have greater personal satisfaction if 100 million people were using my software versus only having 1 million using it. And that also means less people are using my competitors product even if i am not making any extra money myself.

        And I could also charge for the addition of specific features. "Oh, so made up megacorp, you want my free wordprocessor to be able to handle Egyptian Hieroglyphics? Sure, I can do that for you for $500,00 dollars. Thanks for that, and I've incorporated that feature into all future (free) releases of the wordprocessor."

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 11:04am

    You can't compete with death. There is no business if everyone is dead. You can't base an economy on dead people so we must keep things as they are today.

    True statement if someone is advocating basing a business model on the assumption everyone is dead. No one is doing so.

    The point here is hyperbole masks the real underlying issue by setting up an straw man scenario no is endorsing, thus making it a foregone conclusion to maintain the status quo.

     

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      DJ, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 1:52pm

      Re:

      Dude, your last sentence makes absolutely no grammatical sense whatsoever.

      So I have to ask the following:

      HUH????

       

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        Derek Kerton (profile), Jun 5th, 2009 @ 2:07pm

        Re: Re:

        It might have been a little run-on, but it makes perfect grammatical sense.

        Definitely requires 11th grade reading level, though. I agree that most writing should target 9th grade or less.

        Try reading it again, and let me know if you need me to break it down for you. Not my sentence, but I have decent reading comprehension skills.

         

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    R. Miles (profile), Jun 5th, 2009 @ 11:05am

    Time to throw a wrench into the works.

    not always by the public directly, but advertising and payment and license fee all created a stream of money.
    The first part is exactly right. Not everything is paid for by the consumer directly.
    Not true. Show me when the consumer has ever not paid directly.

    Ads are funded by consumer product purchases as well as licenses by product purchases of wares.

    It's the distributor who is having a hard time with the "free" model because they have nothing to give to consumers.

    Nothing.

    When a consumer can download a song from an artist directly, what purpose does a license or distributor have anymore?

    And trust me, an artist can definitely find ways to get people to pay for something other than content.

    The days of "you'll pay to listen/watch/read what we give you" are coming to a close. Thank goodness.

    I leave it up to those who want to make money find the ways to get me to spend it.

    Because that's not my job, now is it?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 11:13am

      Re: Time to throw a wrench into the works.

      "I leave it up to those who want to make money find the ways to get me to spend it.

      Because that's not my job, now is it?
      "

      But it is our jobs to make sure that they don't find ways to make us spend money by lobbying the government for more restrictive laws in their favor (ie: copyright, etc...).

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 11:23am

      Re: Time to throw a wrench into the works.

      AT&T funds American Idol. Joe Schmoe watches American Idol but is a Verizon subscriber. Joe has now gotten his entertainment for free.

       

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        DJ, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 1:45pm

        Re: Re: Time to throw a wrench into the works.

        The world of broadcast TV (even OTA broadcast) is WAAAY more convoluted than that, so Joe didn't NECESSARILY get it for free....but kinda.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2009 @ 2:27pm

        Re: Re: Time to throw a wrench into the works.

        AT&T funds American Idol. Joe Schmoe watches American Idol but is a Verizon subscriber. Joe has now gotten his entertainment for free.

        In the mind of some TV execs, Joe should now go out and purchase the advertised AT&T product aw well. Otherwise, he's "stealing". That's what they say it is when you leave the room for a potty break during the commercial as well.

         

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      DJ, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 11:48am

      Re: Time to throw a wrench into the works.

      Here. I'll show you where the consumer DOES NOT pay directly; and I'll do so with your own statement.

      "Ads are funded by consumer product purchases as well as licenses by product purchases of wares."

      That statement epitomizes the term "INDIRECTLY".

      If consumer(s) had paid for the ads directly, they would have gone down to the studio and written out a check (or cash or credit) for, at least, a portion of the cost of the advertisement. But that doesn't happen. Ever.

       

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        Derek Kerton (profile), Jun 5th, 2009 @ 2:14pm

        Re: Re: Time to throw a wrench into the works.

        Gents, gotta side with DJ on this tangential debate. It may be irrelevant to the overall discussion, but he's right on this one point.

        But DJ, you must have loved the fact that R.Miles made this one mistake, so that you could shift focus and evade his overall strong arguments, like "It's the distributor who is having a hard time with the "free" model because they have nothing to give to consumers."

        Bad on you for jumping on the fluff of indirect v. direct payment models, instead of addressing the important issue of middlemen with no modern purpose extracting profit and pushing laws to support their ongoing existence.

        But that's a lot like Eric Baptiste in the article: easier to argue against a mistake or a strawman than to argue the real subject matter.

         

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          Luci, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 7:21pm

          Re: Re: Re: Time to throw a wrench into the works.

          It is not our responsibility to support the middleman. All the middleman does is increase the overall cost to the consumer, which is not conducive in this economy. Besides which, the middleman should know the vagaries of supply and demand. If supply is infinite, demand becomes low in proportion, and you cannot charge as much for it (thus, free comes in). However, the opposite is also true. When supply is low, and demand high (because these free, infinite goods have driven interest and demand), then you can charge /more/.

          Step 3: Profit!

           

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2009 @ 2:31pm

        Re: Re: Time to throw a wrench into the works.

        R. Miles doesn't seem to know the meaning of the word "indirect". Maybe he should look up the meaning of such "big words" before opening his flap trap.

         

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      Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Jun 7th, 2009 @ 8:17am

      Re: Time to throw a wrench into the works.


      The first part is exactly right. Not everything is paid for by the consumer directly.

      Not true. Show me when the consumer has ever not paid directly.

      Ads are funded by consumer product purchases as well as licenses by product purchases of wares.


      You've just contradicted yourself. That's a perfect example of the consumer paying indirectly.

       

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    RD, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 11:07am

    I agree

    I, too, am getting sick of the whining mouth-breathers on sites like this who immediately point an accusing finger and state as loudly as possible: "free doesnt work as a business model!!" It's gotten to the point where you just want to throttle the little idiots, who apparently cant read plain english.

     

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    Rini, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 11:07am

    If Everything is Free...

    Besides, if "everything is free", then why do we care about making money?

     

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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jun 5th, 2009 @ 11:39am

    Whoa, wait.

    So if *everything* is free... That means we've developed replicator technology!

    Zephram, get going on that warp engine thingy...

     

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    jbek, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 11:44am

    There is an interesting reverse analogy that just occurred to me. Some newspapers that have been online free would like to charge for it now. The problem is that people got used to the free model and are unlikely to switch due to available options. The reverse can be said about the industry companies. They have a product that has been a paid one up to now and they are struggling with it changing into a free one. It is understandable why they would resist giving it up. Though most people reading blogs like Techdirt may not agree.

     

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    Jim Lillicotch, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 11:47am

    Can't make money with free

    I guess Google giving away all of those free search results doesn't make anything at all.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 11:53am

    Why pay to see a concert when the artist is already giving away his music? Besides you people who want to be right about free music who actually would do that. Most consumers wouldn't care to support a musician. What do they care? They get it on the internet for free why to see someone in concert.

    When someone starts to devalue their product consumers tend to have a devalued view of that product.

     

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      Tgeigs (profile), Jun 5th, 2009 @ 12:01pm

      Re:

      "Why pay to see a concert when the artist is already giving away his music?"

      ....okay, so your argument is that if we get the music for free download, we wouldn't go to the concert. Why? If we PAY for the download, do we go to the concert THEN? If not, and you're a proponent of live music (it sounds that way), it seems to me your enemy isn't free recorded music, it's just recorded music.

      Which is an idiotically awesome argument.

       

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      DJ, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 12:08pm

      Re:

      What, exactly, would be your definition of "free music"? I, myself, have absolutely zero musical talent. However, I've been friends with SEVERAL musicians, and none of them would be willing to just give ALL of their music away for free. After all, they have to make a living too.

      That being said, however, they would all be willing to give away SOME of their music if doing so would help sales of their music.

      So anyone who decries free music of any kind because "it takes away the money that the artists make" doesn't have a clue how capitalism works.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 12:53pm

      Re:

      "Why pay to see a concert when the artist is already giving away his music? "

      That makes no sense. From the time recorded music has existed, 99% of the people who go to a concert ALREADY own the music of the respective musician. So, whether or not the artists music is free has nothing to do with less people going to a concert. If anything, free music can only INCREASE ticket sales.

       

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      nasch (profile), Jun 5th, 2009 @ 4:29pm

      Re:

      They get it on the internet for free why to see someone in concert.

      Have you never been to a concert, then?

       

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    wader, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 12:18pm

    we don't need no stinking labels

    SAVE THE BUGGY WHIP MAKERS!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 12:37pm

    His real fear isn't that "everything is free," because that's not happening at all. His real fear is that the new business models don't require groups like CISAC.

    It seems that 'Everything' is context sensitive here. If CISAC only sells music and music must be free then from the CISAC prespective 'everything' is going toward free. So did they mean everything everything or everything as it relates to their products?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 12:43pm

    Wow, all those people who bought CDs have no reason to go to the concert now...

     

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    Jason, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 1:34pm

    Microsoft Gave it away for free

    Didnt Microsoft give away Internet Explorer away for free and then get taken to court for creating a monopoly. I dont think they had a problem profiting from a free service/product do you?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 2:51pm

      Re: Microsoft Gave it away for free

      No, it was bundled with their operating system, not free. This is like saying that if I buy a car the tires on the car are free. No, they are not free, they're part of what I'm buying.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 2:18pm

    This is where the house of free all falls down.

    If you make A free to sell B, some idiot will make B free to sell C. Then another fool will make C free to sell D.

    Band gives away music to sell concert tickets, so bands that can't get exposure like that start giving away concerts too, hoping to sell t-shirts. Another band figures the t-shirts are good marketing too, so they give away CDs, concerts and t-shirts hoping to sell beer at their shows.

    Does it ever end?

    It's one of the reasons there is a difference between someone with an MBA and someone who does marketing. Sales people know that "free" is the easiest sale in the world, because the client has almost no reason to say no, after all, it's free. It's also the laziest technique possible. But the power of free is lost when everyone is doing free, so you have to offer MORE for free just to stay ahead. Thus the race to the bottom, as everyone tries to outdo everyone else.

    For more information, please see current American car company offers. Each one piles a little more "free" on the top to try to sell the car, soon enough the costs of the free will far exceed the value of the car.

     

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      Dr. William Vandenburg, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 2:23pm

      Re: Your an idiot

      It doesn't take a PHD to recognize what a fallacious argument your just produced. Slippery Slope much? You suck at life just go kill yourself.

       

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      Tgeigs (profile), Jun 5th, 2009 @ 2:52pm

      Re:

      "If you make A free to sell B, some idiot will make B free to sell C. Then another fool will make C free to sell D."

      To me, that only works if a=b=c=d, and in this case, they don't. A is free because I can already get it for free from my friends. How can my friends give me b(concert seats) or c(tshirts), and how can businesses get d(appearences) for free from someone else?

      "Band gives away music to sell concert tickets, so bands that can't get exposure like that start giving away concerts too, hoping to sell t-shirts. Another band figures the t-shirts are good marketing too, so they give away CDs, concerts and t-shirts hoping to sell beer at their shows."

      For the reasons I stated above, we already know that the bands you are speaking of are terminally stupid. However, in the free on the net scenario, what is causing the "can't get exposure"? They've got all the free distribution in the world, so unless the A. don't have someone managing the business side smart enough to use the web, and/or B. they just aren't very good to most people consuming, there shouldn't BE a problem.

      "Does it ever end?"

      Yes, in most cases at the level of recorded music. Bye bye labels! We get to do your job now! And WE do it for free!

      "It's one of the reasons there is a difference between someone with an MBA and someone who does marketing."

      What if they have an MBA IN marketing, do they get to have an opinion then?

      "Sales people know that "free" is the easiest sale in the world, because the client has almost no reason to say no, after all, it's free."

      There's plenty of reason to say no, if what you're giving to me isn't useful. I wouldn't take a kick to the crotch, for instance, nor do I want free coupons sent to my mail, even though some others like them. I personally don't in any way want free hip hop music. I don't like it.

      "For more information, please see current American car company offers. Each one piles a little more "free" on the top to try to sell the car, soon enough the costs of the free will far exceed the value of the car."

      BWAHAHAHHAHAHAAHAHHAHAHAHAHAH...if you think the issue with the car industry was that they were giving away too much free stuff, you need you're head examined. They were producing a product NO ONE wanted coupled with overexpansion and unfettered growth. Simply put, they produced too much compared to their customer base. Most cases what they produced was no longer in demand, some cases they produced too many of what was in SOME demand.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 3:21pm

        Re: Re:

        "we already know that the bands you are speaking of are terminally stupid. However, in the free on the net scenario, what is causing the "can't get exposure"? They've got all the free distribution in the world, so unless the A. don't have someone managing the business side smart enough to use the web, and/or B. they just aren't very good to most people consuming, there shouldn't BE a problem."

        It's amazing when someone types something like this, and yet they can't make the simple connections.

        If music is a "free exposure" thing, isn't a concert (say outdoors in a big park) also great free exposure? Isn't standing on a street corner busking great exposure (ask the naked cowboy). There is no limit to what can be made to have zero effect costs to the audience.

        If enough concerts are done for free, won't the public's perception of the market price of concerts also drop?

        As for the free exposure on the net, there is only so much time and so much space for so many bands in the public's eye. When a million useless bands and all pumping out a million useless tunes, there will be an incredible level of noise and very little signal anymore. Then all the free music is going to be crowded out by other free music.

        Like all marketing gimmicks, they only work as long as nobody else is doing them. When everyone does them, they won't work anymore.

        "BWAHAHAHHAHAHAAHAHHAHAHAHAHAH...if you think the issue with the car industry was that they were giving away too much free stuff, you need you're head examined."

        No, I didn't say that in the slightest. Reading skills are not your forte, are they? (but that is!). Seriously, I am commenting on the current selling techniques used in the downturn. 3 months free payments, free service for 3 years, free xm radio, free winter tires. 0% financing. $10,000 cash back. blah blah. In the end, each one piles a little more on the pile to reach the top. If the car industry can do it (and they always have), then why can't someone do it in music, in movies, whatever?

        Your preconceived notion is that nobody will make the next step free. According to Mike, that is what screwed the record labels. Will the next one getting screwed be concert promoters or t-shirt sellers?

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 3:44pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "If music is a "free exposure" thing, isn't a concert (say outdoors in a big park) also great free exposure?"

          I suppose some bands might give free T - Shirts so that people will attend their concerts. Other bands might hold free concerts so that people will buy T - Shirts from them. But no self interested band will give everything for free to the extent that there is no profits.

          "When a million useless bands and all pumping out a million useless tunes, there will be an incredible level of noise and very little signal anymore. Then all the free music is going to be crowded out by other free music."

          The people with the most talent will stand out. Different people may like different bands because they have different taste. There are more choices to choose from. You may call a band useless just because you don't like it but someone else may like it. One mans trash is another mans treasure.

          Also, in a free market if doing something is not profitable because there are too many competitors some people will move to do something else. Others will stay in the industry. It will reach the point where everyone in the industry makes a normal profit, this is exactly the point that maximizes aggregate output. It won't reach the point where everyone in the industry goes out of business. If you have an excess supply where the opportunity cost is greater then people SHOULD go to alternative industries until total aggregate output from the collection of industries is maximized. That's the beauty and efficiency of a free market, it allows for this.

          "Like all marketing gimmicks, they only work as long as nobody else is doing them. When everyone does them, they won't work anymore."

          Labeling it a marketing gimmick doesn't make it so. Also see my comments on free markets above.

           

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          nasch (profile), Jun 5th, 2009 @ 4:36pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Your preconceived notion is that nobody will make the next step free.

          Do you understand the difference between scarce and infinite goods? It kind of seems like you're purposely pretending you don't know the difference (ie trolling) but maybe you really don't.

          People didn't just arbitrarily pick recorded music as the thing that would be given away for free. The fact that it can be distributed infinitely for essentially zero cost (ie zero marginal cost) means its price will naturally tend toward zero.

          This means that musicians (generally) will not just arbitrarily pick something else to start giving away for free, in particular not profitable scarce goods such as concert tickets and shirts. Again I say generally - there will always be someone somewhere giving away shirts or holding free concerts, but it will not be the norm the way digital music is (and/or will be). This is not just a huge coincidence, it's because of the difference in the fundamental nature of the goods.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 4:44pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I understand that all perfectly - and I am saying that someone will figure out that they can also distribute certain "scarce" goods in a manner that is effectively free. Heck, the Sex Pistols pretty much did that running up and down london on a barge, and the beatles did it on top of a building (copied many years later by U2).

            "This means that musicians (generally) will not just arbitrarily pick something else to start giving away for free, in particular not profitable scarce goods such as concert tickets and shirts"

            All it takes is a few (less intelligent ones) to start doing it, and the public's perception changes. The real tilt in music isn't that is it cheaper to distribute online, it is that through napster and all these other file sharing systems, a sizeable part of the public has learned over 10+ years that music has no market price anymore. "Free" isn't anything other than people giving into the inevitable.

            What would happen if for every concert a band gives, 20,000 people burst into the show and enjoyed it for free? Over time, the same effect would happen. People would stop buying concert tickets and start joining the gate crashers. If nobody stopped the gate crashers, the value of a concert ticket would drop to nothing pretty quickly.

            There are many ways it can happen. It would be ignorant to assume that today's "scarce" good isn't going to be tomorrow's infinite waste.

             

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              Bettawrekonize, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 5:01pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "I understand that all perfectly - and I am saying that someone will figure out that they can also distribute certain "scarce" goods in a manner that is effectively free."

              I already explained the problems with this. To the extent that the opportunity cost exceeds the profits of each additional unit of a good given for free people will move to other industries, AS THEY SHOULD. Those who stay in the industry will earn a normal profit which maximizes aggregate output. If good are given at a VERY CHEAP cost then society should not allocate more resources than are necessary to provide those goods. Aggregate output is maximized which is exactly the goal of economic efficiency.

               

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                Bettawrekonize, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 5:10pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Take water as an example. New water distribution systems have made the distribution of water essentially free (or much cheaper). Does this mean that no one gets water? NO!! We still get water and the distribution systems have increased aggregate output leading to economic expansion. Now people can focus the resources that would previously be used on the distribution of water (perhaps going to river, filling up buckets, and bringing them to peoples houses) on other things (ie: innovation) and hence you have economic expansion. Salt is so cheap it's essentially free but it still gets distributed in mass amounts. Just because things get cheaper or become "free" doesn't mean they don't get distributed/created. Their creation/distribution itself increases aggregate output which is exactly what we aim for. At the same time we shouldn't allocate more resources than are necessary for a product (ie: music). Let the free market determine what bans survive and which ones don't.

                 

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              Bettawrekonize, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 5:01pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "I understand that all perfectly - and I am saying that someone will figure out that they can also distribute certain "scarce" goods in a manner that is effectively free."

              I already explained the problems with this. To the extent that the opportunity cost exceeds the profits of each additional unit of a good given for free people will move to other industries, AS THEY SHOULD. Those who stay in the industry will earn a normal profit which maximizes aggregate output. If good are given at a VERY CHEAP cost then society should not allocate more resources than are necessary to provide those goods. Aggregate output is maximized which is exactly the goal of economic efficiency.

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 5:13pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "There are many ways it can happen. It would be ignorant to assume that today's "scarce" good isn't going to be tomorrow's infinite waste."

              and hopefully they do, that's a good thing. Increased aggregate output is the goal of economic efficiency.

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 5:27pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "What would happen if for every concert a band gives, 20,000 people burst into the show and enjoyed it for free?"

              What would happen if a big meteor rock hits the planet Earth. Your question is irrelevant, no one is suggesting that bands should offer everything for free. Self interested bands won't offer such services to the extent that doing so won't allow them to stay in business.

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 5:50pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "All it takes is a few (less intelligent ones) to start doing it, and the public's perception changes. The real tilt in music isn't that is it cheaper to distribute online, it is that through napster and all these other file sharing systems, a sizeable part of the public has learned over 10+ years that music has no market price anymore. "Free" isn't anything other than people giving into the inevitable."

              We have the open source community developing free software under the GPL. If some people want to give away something for free what's wrong with that? It increases aggregate output which is exactly the goal of economic efficiency. The ones who want to charge have to compete. If they can't, tough. Let the free market choose what they value most.

               

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 2:54pm

      Re:

      This is stupid, is this the nonsense that lobbyists sell to the government? People aren't that stupid, if they're motive is to maximize profits they're not going to offer stuff worth more than what it makes them. They will start to offer some T - Shirts and if it increases profits in other things they'll give away a little more, until they reach the point that giving away more T - Shirts doesn't increase profits in ticket sales then they'll stop. They'll do this regardless of the competition. What a terrible argument, do our government officials buy this nonsense?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 2:55pm

        Re: Re:

        and if the band is stupid enough to go out of business giving away free stuff (assuming self interested motives) then that's not their fault, but lets not assume every band is that stupid (maybe just you).

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 3:00pm

        Re: Re:

        "They will start to offer some T - Shirts and if it increases profits in other things they'll give away a little more, until they reach the point that giving away more T - Shirts doesn't increase profits in ticket sales then they'll stop."

        That is they'll stop offering more free T - Shirts per unit time (in case your incompetence misunderstands my statement), it doesn't mean they won't give away free T - shirts whatsoever. So if 100 free T - Shirts per month brings them the most profits from concert tickets that's how much they'll offer.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 4:36pm

    Under flattened view you need to have a link at the bottom of each post (right next to link to this comment) that points to the post that something is in response to (and perhaps another that points to any responding posts). Under threaded view you need to have two links at the bottom of each post, one that points to the next post in chronology, another that points to the previous. This would be VERY helpful.

     

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    herodotus (profile), Jun 5th, 2009 @ 6:53pm

    Real musicians make music because they love doing it.

    Many of the great composers of the past 100 odd years (Schoenberg, Webern, Varese, Ives, Bartok, Nancarrow, Partch, etc....) never made a penny of of their compositions. Or if they did, it was less than enough to live off by a good deal.

    Schoenberg taught theory; Webern made arrangements of cabaret music; Bartok played concert tours and still nearly starved in the end; Partch was a hobo; Ives sold insurance.

    And they all wrote a hell of a lot more music than any but the most prolific contemporary recording artists. And this music is still around.

    The time of the recording-artist-as-career-possibility is coming to a close. It's not a matter of good versus evil. It's just how it is. Talking about how much that sucks for the John Mayers and Sheryl Crows of the world completely sidesteps the fact that these people are an absurdly tiny percentage of the community of musicians.

    All of the controversy surrounding file sharing and the RIAA and the big 4 and whatnot is just a small part of the digital audio revolution. As a musician I can definitely assert that the expressive possibilities opened by this revolution are vast beyond the dreams of previous generations. These expressive possibilities are the happy flip side of the nobody-wants-to-buy-music-anymore bitch fest. Because today:

    I can get numerous high quality multitrack recorder applications for free.

    I can get numerous high quality midi sequencer applications for free.

    I can get numerous samplers, all of which dwarf the capabilities of a Fairlight (the first digital sampler, which cost 20,000 British pounds in 1980) for free.

    I can get compressors and equalizers and synthesizers and filters and ring modulators, all for free.

    I can get untold millions of audio samples, from drums to pianos to sound effects to complete orchestras.

    All for free.

    Real musicians are excited by this stuff. They are using it to make music. Anyone who isn't using all of this stuff to make music because of how sad they are that they might never get to be as famous as Bono aren't worth listening to.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 7:15pm

      Re:

      yeah, but for all the toys, it is still a question of talent. Otherwise you are just like thr 1000 other people out there using auto tuner software to fix your mistakes.

      You aren't a musician if all you are doing is sampling other people. That is a big part of free these days, crap sampled music that depends on the work of real musicians done in the past to support another round of "oh yeah baby" lines from some rapper or R&B singer who's name we will forget next week.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 7:31pm

        Re: Re:

        "That is a big part of free these days, crap sampled music that depends on the work of real musicians done in the past to support another round of "oh yeah baby" lines from some rapper or R&B singer who's name we will forget next week."

        Let the free market determine what they deem to be good music, not you or stupid laws made lawmakers. If the music sucks the free market won't listen to it. Those who make good music will be listened to. We don't need laws in place to make the process unnecessarily burdensome. Let people decide what they want to listen to, not laws.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 7:34pm

        Re: Re:

        "That is a big part of free these days, crap sampled music that depends on the work of real musicians done in the past to support another round of "oh yeah baby" lines from some rapper or R&B singer who's name we will forget next week."

        Who are you to determine which music is good and which music isn't? Let the free market decide, not you. If the music sucks the free market will change it. But lets keep burdensome intellectual property laws and unnecessary royalty taxes by parasitic organizations like the RIAA and MPAA out of the picture. If artists don't want the RIAA or MPAA to benefit from their work then tough. Artists should have that option.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2009 @ 4:58am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Let the free market decide, not you."

          I get to decide only as much as you and each other individual person.

          "lets keep burdensome intellectual property laws and unnecessary royalty taxes by parasitic organizations like the RIAA and MPAA out of the picture."

          Who is the burden on? People who want to take an existing work, modify it slightly, and push it onto the public as their own. They should be burdened, the rap and r&b acts that survive on the backs of other's works are the "parasitic organizations" here, not the people who wrote and performed the original songs, and not the people who work to protect their rights.

          For all the "free" and supposed creativity going on as a result, there is very little actually new or creative going on.

           

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      Ronald J Riley (profile), Jun 11th, 2009 @ 2:21pm

      Re:

      And you can still get air for free. But you must pay for food, lodging, etc.

      I donate my time for good works. I often go to DC to promote various issues. It costs me about $200 to $300 a day to stay in DC assuming one week stays. Clearly my time in DC is not free because there is overhead.

      Staying alive is not free. There are basic overhead costs. Regardless of what you are producing, you still must pay those costs.

      Marketing people tend to make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Most marketing people are con artists and the essence of "free" to to lure unwary people to transfer their money to the marketing huckster one way or another.

      Ronald J. Riley,

      Speaking only on my own behalf.
      President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
      Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
      Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
      President - Alliance for American Innovation
      Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
      Washington, DC
      Direct (810) 597-0194 - (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

       

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    herodotus (profile), Jun 6th, 2009 @ 7:07am

    "Who is the burden on? People who want to take an existing work, modify it slightly, and push it onto the public as their own. They should be burdened, the rap and r&b acts that survive on the backs of other's works are the "parasitic organizations" here, not the people who wrote and performed the original songs, and not the people who work to protect their rights."

    So you actually believe that the RIAA protects artists rights?

    Enjoy your Koolaid.

     

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    Elizabeth, Jun 6th, 2009 @ 7:49pm

    Here's a true life senerio for you.

    Veteran genre Filmmaker, wanting creative freedom from the studio system, believes in his art so much, he and a friend refinance their homes to make their art. Total costs with deferrments about 1.5 MILLION. His sales agents get about five tiny territories into the selling of what turned out to be some really creative unique, work of art, (not enough for him to start seeing any return yet, but enough for the sales agent to see his fee) then their suddenly told by a potential buyer, that they can't and won't be able to buy their work from them, because in their search for info on the film, they discovered people are able to easily get his movie, for free from pirates online, and that his film is everywhere! Therefore, they just don't think they'll make their distribution costs back, much less be able to advance him anything. One after another, everyone is telling him the same thing, It's great film, and were it not being distributed for free, they certainly would have bought it. So Now he and his friend have mortgages that are still due, and not one cent to their name.

    I can't blame them for being a free haters. Since it's the free lovers who STOLE their work, and are enjoy his blood sweat and tears, freely distributing it online, while they are facing the sale of their homes.

    So what should his next step be??? Keep in mind, that having spent all of their cash on the product, they now have NO money to market or produce anything else? As they were counting on income from the licensing it to territories, to generate more income, before it was stolen by a free-lovin pirate at a Brazilian lab.

    What should he do next?

     

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      Elizabeth_E (profile), Jun 6th, 2009 @ 8:26pm

      Re: Here's a true life senerio for you.

      Sorry It was a 2nd mortgage not, a refinancing, that they took out to create their art.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2009 @ 7:27am

      Re: Here's a true life senerio for you.

      Free creates no harm. Copyright "infringers" are good for a product. So many more people know about the movie, which is great publicity! Amazing marketing, it has truly brought the movie way up there in public knowledge and made it... well.. worthless?

      Nice story. Mike will ignore it.

       

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      DTS, Jun 7th, 2009 @ 10:05pm

      Re: Here's a true life senerio for you.

      If it's a true life scenario, maybe you'd like to give some true life names.

       

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