Consumers are pushing the creative industries towards a free model, forcing a reinvention of monetization, a crucial element of the chain that “professional” artists obviously need. As more and more creators experiment free models, mixed reviews come in. This fascinating interview of Jean-Louis Murat, a French musician who is known for being very opinionated, gives a harsh perspective:
You have been one of the first French artists to open a web site in 1998 and to offer songs, exchanges, links, images on it. Is you current anti-internet stance in contradiction with that?
[...] At the beginning, I was putting an exclusive song on my site every week, downloadable for free. Then I stopped. These songs were downloaded without a “thank you”, without a “hello” , and eventually sold as paying compilations in conventions. I belonged to the idiots who believed in the mirages of the internet, and therefore to the inner goodness of people, to communautary exchanges.
Link (in french)
And now Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert:
I’ve been watching with great interest as the band “Radiohead” pursues its experiment with pay-what-you-want downloads on the Internet. In the near term, the goodwill has inspired lots of people to pay. But I suspect many of them are placing a bet that paying a few bucks now will inspire all of their favorite bands to offer similar deals. That’s when the market value of music will approach zero.
That’s my guess. Free is more complicated than you’d think.
Free is not an option as it will be forced by consumers, so the question is not about wheter is can happen or not.The lesson here is that free is not something that can happen by simply taking money out of the equation. Both artists and listeners need to adapt and re-negotiate how they will interact. Artists having the longest way to go in their quest for new monetization channels, but consumers should also adapt their behaviors and change their outlook on artists who are more and more enhancing our lives and less and less pieces of a puzzle trying to screw us as much as possible.