Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More On How To Profit From Free Online Content

Many bands have taken to giving their music away as free digital files and instead focusing on getting more revenue of out merchandise sales and some other content creators are trying something similar.

Wired reports:
In 2003, Burnie Burns got together with three friends and created Red vs. Blue—an animated comedy series set in the world of first-person shooter Halo. Nerds loved it, and within months nearly a million people were downloading each week's free show.

Burns & Co. decided they wanted to quit their jobs and work on the series full-time. So they figured out a way to do it: T-shirts.

Burns appropriated the comedy's wittiest one-liners and set up an online store to sell shirts and caps. Within months, he was filling hundreds of orders a week, generating enough revenue to pay everyone a salary. "The shirts," he says, "turned us from a hobby into a business."

Continue reading.

This ought not be surprising since the challenges the music and all other content-creation industries are facing have the same root cause: the radical decrease in the cost of transmitting information--a decrease to effectively zero. And if your business model relies on attempting to sell an infinitely available resource, I'm afraid the law of supply and demand is likely to wipe you out with cruel and efficient speed. Hence the need for new business models.

Also, taking another page from the music performance business, perhaps offering live interaction with one's audience will become another major way of boosting readership (and then, hopefully, ad revenue as well) for electronic publications. Out in Seattle, The Stranger seems to be trying this out with its Slog Happy events.

Finally, the New York Times' Bits blog made the same connection I did between yesterday's news of the Tribume Company's implosion and the ongoing advances in electronic paper technology. But my post went up first. Score one for me. Though I'd be even more excited about it if I had anything approaching their readership.


Google blasts full steam ahead into the world of magazines:

The word "magazine" is derived from the Arabic word "makhazin," meaning storehouse. Since Daniel Defoe published the world's first English magazine back in 1704, millions of magazines catering to nearly every imaginable taste have been created and consumed, passed from person to person in cafes, barber shops, libraries, and homes around the world. If you're wondering what cars people drove in the eighties or what was in fashion thirty years ago, there's a good chance that you'll find that answer in a magazine. Yet few magazine archives are currently available online.

Today, we're announcing an initiative to help bring more magazine archives and current magazines online, partnering with publishers to begin digitizing millions of articles from titles as diverse as New York Magazine, Popular Mechanics, and Ebony. Are you a baseball history fanatic? Try a search for [hank aaron catching babe] on Google Book Search. You'll find a link to a 1973 Ebony article about Hank Aaron, written as he closed in on Babe Ruth's original record for career home runs. You can read the article in full color and in its original context, just as you would in the printed magazine. Scroll back a few pages, for example, and you'll find a two-page spread on 1973's fall fashions. If you'd like to read further, you can click on "Browse all issues" to view issues from across the decades.

Continue reading.

No corner of the information/entertainment industry will remain untouched by the digital revolution. Newspapers, magazines, and even books will all primarily be read on electronic paper in the near future. And Google will of course index it all, making all the world's information accessible wherever one happens to be. Eat your heart out, Gutenberg.

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