The thing I am learning, much to my cost, is that this business we call ‘show’ is flipped on it’s head. See it used to be that one toured in order to sell content. More and more now one basically gives the content away in order to get people to either:
a) Go to shows
b) Purchase swag
c) Promote a corporate tie-in
This is a bargain with the devil for any number of reasons, which I’ll delve into another time, but for now the question is ‘how did we get here?’. And the answer is simple: we got pimped.
Remember when ATM machines first hit? They were free, Free, FREE! Not so free anymore are they? We got used to them and then, like any good dealer, the banks then started charging. Good plan.
Now Google came along and gave us something very cool and very innocuous. They got us used to searching for stuff for free. And since we could search for stuff for free, we tended to seek out free solutions. And so content providers (and that means me) started giving away stuff just for the thrill of having ‘eyeballs’. But somewhere along the way, no one figured out how to stop the ‘free sample’ part. Everyone just assumed that, at some point, someone would figure out how to ‘monetize’ all the eyeballs.
They didn’t. All they did was train y’all to expect everything on the web to be free. And it’s been going on long enough that there is now a whole generation of people that will not tolerate content unless it’s free.
The youth of America (and by that I mean anyone under 35) now have a complete philosophical argument to support their ideas. They will give you long dissertations on why content must be free (as if it were an enslaved animal that deserves to have it’s cage opened.) See? ‘Free’ and ‘free’. ‘Freedom!’ and ‘No Charge!’ have become synonymous for these middle class twerps.
Check it out! Ask people over 40 how they feel about Piracy. They will almost unanimously rail against it. Now ask people under 40. They will almost unanimously shrug their shoulders.
So, if everyone expects the content to be ‘free’, then how are artists (..er… ‘content providers’) supposed to make a living? Concerts? Swag? Corporate Tie-Ins? Government Grants? None of these options speak to me as a true capitalist. What I want is simple: to be paid for my labour. The question is, ‘How?’