I’d Happily Pay for “Free” Content

I don’t pay for most of my content, and I haven’t for a long time.

Even my once beloved DVD collection has been replaced by torrents. My music and television shows have long been downloaded and most recently, I’ve even started torrenting my books and reading them on an iPad.

It’s fair to say, I don’t pay for content. But I want to.

I do realise that someone needs to pay for it, and I’d be willing to do so if it was easy and 100% of the money went to the team who produced it.

I’d happy throw a few dollars to an author of a book if I knew it was going directly to them (and their editor, etc.) Likewise for a band, and it could even for movies and television shows. What I don’t want to pay for is the unnecessary cost of middle men, distributors and physical production.

I’ve just finished reading five Game of Thrones books. I didn’t pay for them, but seeings how they kept me busy for the best part of two months, I’d happy give a good amount of money to George R. R. Martin and his crew if it was easy. But I can’t find a donation button anywhere, and the only way to ‘pay’ is to give a large proportion of the money to the likes of Amazon and Angus & Robertson.

At the end of an ebook, television series or album, there should be an option to donate/pay, with the proceeds going directly to those who produced it.

I know then I’d pay for content instead of ‘stealing’ it.
  • Anonymous
    Posted at October 19, 2011 12:12pm, 19 October Reply

    That's a pretty risible defence for stealing. You don't want to give money to Amazon (why?) so that means the author/singer/producer can also go swing. Right. Maybe I don't want to give any money to Coles but would like to give it straight to Heinz. Does this mean I'm within my rights to steal the product from the shelf? You are trying to defend the indefensible – there are plenty of options to buy legal content online. If you want to steal, fine, but don't dress it up as some attempt to stick it to the 'man' when in reality it's just thievery.

  • Zac Martin
    Posted at October 19, 2011 12:29pm, 19 October Reply

    Think of it what you will, it's not a defence for stealing (I know it's wrong but I'm still going to do it) but rather an option of monetization.

    The distribution of physical products requires someone like Coles (although e-commerce might suggest otherwise). Content does not. And content can be replicated for free. Current pricing models do not take either of those points into consideration.

  • Alicia
    Posted at October 19, 2011 2:23pm, 19 October Reply

    Yeah I can't help but feel that although you have good intention your lack of paying (and mine) is still costing someone, somewhere, their job. That middle-man has kids to feed too. Artists can easily distribute their content independently and some do so you are literally paying the artist. But if an artist chooses to distribute through a middle man it's their choice and if you want to pay them you have to do it that way. Can't be righteous about what's out of your control.

  • nate
    Posted at October 19, 2011 4:09pm, 19 October Reply

    I've got very similar behaviour as yourself Zac, however last week I was recommended an album and based on the artist profile I wanted to ensure I paid for the album and they got (as least some of) the funds. Unfortunately everywhere I tried to get it from would not accept me because I had an Australian IP address. It blows my mind that when the record labels continue to cry foul about downloading, when a customer is willing to give them money, they turn them away because they're not in the US.

  • Matt Granfield
    Posted at October 20, 2011 10:42am, 20 October Reply

    Dude, I hear what you're saying, but I think you're being naive. Publishing companies are the ones who take punts on a project and get it out there in the mainstream. Sure, you could self publish your own book, but the fact is, The Age isn't going to review it, bookshelves (even virtual bookshelves) won't stock it and virtually no one is going to hear about it. When a publisher (or a record company) shoulders the risk of getting behind a creative work it's a signal to the world that someone who knows what they're doing thinks the work is important and commercially viable. My book is out in a couple of weeks. Trust me, I would much prefer it if you bought it than stole it. Sure, I'll only get between 10-20% of the cover price, but I'm happy for the rest to go to Allen and Unwin and Booktopia or Dymocks. They're all playing their part in getting the book out there to the wider world and I'll ultimately make far more money with them on board than if I self-published and sold it as an e-book from my blog. As a marketing professional you above all people should know the value of being SEEN. Yep, some airport bookstore will take ten bucks on the cover price while I only get three, but by being seen in that airport book store I'm going to sell a lot more copies than I otherwise would have because people will go 'oh, there's that hipster book again, I've seen that everywhere, it must be good'.

  • Zac Martin
    Posted at October 20, 2011 11:14am, 20 October Reply

    Interesting Matt, All fair points.

    I'm not necessarily saying that self publishing is the way to go, as I do realise the potential impact a publisher/record company can have on the sales of a product.

    However the system is broken. Pirating is happening whether people like it or not, and maybe it's naive to continue to rely on a system that doesn't work?

  • Colin Jevons
    Posted at October 20, 2011 3:19pm, 20 October Reply

    As an ex-publisher, I 100% agree with Zac (uncharacteristically). What Zac is saying is that he wants to pay for what he values, which is the creative act of content production, and not for the useless aspects of printing books on dead tree and trucking them around the place. Matt, publicity for your book is more effectively gained by using a PR consultant to get you onto broadcast media than by having copies of your book nicely displayed in the airport bookstall (although the boost to the author's ego is considerable, and important)

  • Matt Granfield
    Posted at October 20, 2011 5:56pm, 20 October Reply

    The system is broked. That's for sure. And oh gosh, Colin, I know what Zac is saying, I'd just rather he bought my book than stole it! I'd rather the three bucks than nothing.

    I download music illegally too, but I make a point of paying for anything I enjoy. If I want to check out a new band I'll find their stuff for free and if I like it, I'll buy it.

    If you haven't read Seth Godin's musings on this issue you really should. Every artist or fan should: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/10/maybe-you-cant.html

    I can see a future where music and books cease to be commodities and they revert back to what they were originally – labors of love supported by patrons. It's sad for me as an artist who would love to be a rich and famous writer/rock star, but fuck, that's reality. Suck it up.

  • Matthew Perkins
    Posted at October 25, 2011 4:49pm, 25 October Reply

    For the most part I am with you Zac, the ability to directly contribute to the creator is far more rewarding that knowing that pittance of what you pay is ending up in their hands.

    I'm a big fan of online fiction, especially that which is free to access. But if I like what an author is providing I like donate to them, not only in support, but also as a thankyou, and because I can donate periodically I don't need to fork out large sums of cash at one, but overall the writer still benefits evenly.

    While it isn't the same operating through a publisher – there are costs associated with printing, stocking/storage, transport etc – there is definately room for improvement.

    As people start moving away from paper and pulp books and into ebooks i'm sure we'll see a rise in self published work – and to a degree we already are – but managing all of that can be as much work as writing the book itself.

    What will be interesting is the change digital distribution will have, as then the cost that publishers can currently justify will no longer hold true. And at that point the truth will be revealed – and maybe then creators will get equal/greater shares.

  • jim
    Posted at November 2, 2011 3:59pm, 02 November Reply

    Nothing beats the crisp quality of a DVD or Blueray. I don't care what anyone says, I've got dodgy DVDs and torrents before – they suck. Even the slightest pixelation is enough to piss me off.

    The biggest problem is that legal methods haven't adapted for convenience. For example, I want to watch "Game of Thrones" but it hasn't been released in Australia. The only answer is to watch a torrent. Shouldn't HBO allow downloads of the series at a reduced cost? That way the quality will still remain high and they will reduce pirates. They show many series online free to the USA anyway. This is one of the problems when a series is released in the USA but not the rest of the world. Pretty sure the same thing happened with "The Walking Dead".

  • Zac Martin
    Posted at November 2, 2011 4:07pm, 02 November Reply

    Agree with you regarding quality Jim (it's why I had my DVD collection for so long), although I've now found good quality torrents played through my TV seem to be just as good.

    Game of Thrones is a perfect example, can only pay on Pay TV, and the DVD won't be out for months here in Australia.

  • Bill Gates
    Posted at November 23, 2011 12:23pm, 23 November Reply

    You are a twat. Just because the product is digital, doesn't mean distribution is free you fucking idiot. Someone has to pay for bandwidth. Someone has to pay for sysadmins and programmers and managers and everything else that goes along with running something like itunes. You represent everything that is wrong with your generation – you want something for nothing and fuck everyone else.

  • Anonymous
    Posted at November 23, 2011 12:43pm, 23 November Reply

    Like a car…..see above

  • Anonymous
    Posted at November 23, 2011 1:45pm, 23 November Reply

    ^ advertising is fun isn't it

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