Thursday, September 17, 2009

1001 Ways To Tune Up The World, Number Thirty-Eight

38. Accept the idea that eventually we're going to have to pay for stuff on the Internet.

I'm a big believer in free stuff. Free stuff provides about 97% of my motivation in life. I'm also a big believer in advertising, and advertising seems to hold the key to free stuff. As I've pointed out before, in a variety of contexts, I accept ads because ads make it possible for me to see and get stuff for free.

But the Internet is not making money, not for companies, and it's only a matter of time before the companies that are providing most of the Internet realize that, and also a matter of time before the companies that are providing most of the Internet decide they don't want to just throw money away on providing the Internet to us for free. In the meantime, the free Internet is killing off some other sources of entertainment, and news, like newspapers, magazines ,and television. It was recently revealed that The Simpsons charges more for ads on Hulu than on network television. Advertisers wouldn't pay more for ads unless the ads were effective -- which means that soon, ad revenues could start falling on TV, resulting in networks having less money to produce new TV shows, which could cause a network -- say, NBC -- to decide it's not worth it to pay a lot of money to produce a new dramatic series, and instead go the cheap route and schedule a talk show every night at 9 p.m.

No, that's crazy talk, right? Network TV will never die, right? There will never come a time that a formerly free TV show will end up on a channel that we have to pay to watch, right?

After pondering this all for a while, I decided that I already pay for a lot of my entertainment. I subscribe to three magazines. I have DirecTV. I go to movies in the theater and pay Netflix a monthly fee. I buy my music from iTunes. I subscribe to a newspaper.

There are free options for all of those. I could listen to the radio, or get the free weekly newspaper, or wait for movies to come on network TV. But I don't want to wait, and sometimes the quality suffers. So I pay for the privilege of getting songs and movies when I want them, and how I want them, and getting quality entertainment.

A general way of charging for the Internet would be to follow what movies are already doing: If you want to see a movie now, in the theaters, you pay full price. If you're willing to go at off times or wait a few weeks, you can get a discount. If you want to wait 3-6 months, you can see it for the cost of a DVD or rental, and if you want to wait a year or two, you'll see it for free on TV. Why not try that with the Internet? Make TV shows available right now, for download, for a price. Make them available cheaper a month later, and then have them on your website for free after six months. Other websites could follow the same route: Read it now for a charge, or read it in six months for free. I'd pay a small subscription fee for at least some of the sites I visit. And I'd pay something to be able to get full radio shows transferrable to my iPod, or read blogs on a Kindle.

Prior entries:

13. Ban driving any kind of automobile, motorcycle or other personal vehicle within 1-2 miles of downtown in any city with a population of more than 100,000.

12. Abolish gym class; instead, teach kids to play musical instruments.

11. Change copyright laws to allow anyone to use anyone else's creative work provided that the copier pay 60% of the profit to the originator and that the copier not cast the original work in a negative light.

10. Have more sidewalk cafes and outdoor seating.

9. When you have to give someone a gift, ask them what they want, and then get that thing for them.

8. Never interrupt or finish someone's jokes.

7. Periodically, give up something you like for at least a month.

6. Switch to "E-money."

5. Have each person assigned one phone number, and then add an extension for the various phones and faxes that person might be reached at.

4. Abolish Mondays and Tuesdays.

3. Don't listen to interviews with athletes or comedians.

2. Have "personal cashiers" at the grocery store.

1. Don't earn more than $200,000 per year.

No comments: