March 21, 2009 by alunparry
More Thoughts On Seth Godin
Seth Godin spoke to musicmarketing.com of how he gave away his book free on the internet as an ebook for people to download.
He pointed out how this helped sell his REAL book, because people would want the real thing so they’d buy it.
The problem with Seth’s analogy is that there is no "better" version when it comes to music.
Once you have the music you have the music. End of.
But once you have an ebook, there is a better, more convenient, easier to read option out there that is worth paying for to have.
Seth’s ebooks are not giving away stuff for free, but is more an extreme example of freemium – where you give away stuff for free, but you have a better "premium" version of it that people pay for it.
I say extreme because the idea of sitting in front of a screen for 197 pages is horrific to me, when I could just buy the book for only £6.
So most who want to read it will probably just buy the thing.
Most freemium businesses aren’t like that. Most offer a service that is great to use for free, but a few per cent will convert to the premium features and that’s how they are able to make a living.
The analogy between authors and musicians is often made, but I think it’s a poor one for the reasons I gave.
I chatted to Seth last night on twitter briefly and he accepted there was a difference in this regard.
So is there a better analogy?
As you know, I believe free is a good idea – but how do us musicians scrape a living if everything we do is free.
Google is ridiculously useful and it’s free. It is able to make its money through a "side door". In Google’s case, that side door is advertising.
But for musicians, where is our "side door" once we decide that we are enthusiastic about giving away our digital stuff to fans for free as I do.
I reckon that ebook analogies aren’t where it’s at.
A better analogy is free software.
I don’t use Windows anymore. I don’t believe many of us actually need to. Most of what I do is online, and the rest used Microsoft Office.
Openoffice offers a perfectly good alternative to MS Office, and online is available anywhere.
So i use Ubuntu Linux, the free operating system. The only difference I’ve noticed is that it works better and I’m not inundated with constant malware attacks. Bliss!
When I get a free computer program, just like when I download a free mp3, I have the final product. There is no "physical book" equivalent to jump to.
For musicians who accept that free is fine, analysing the free software sector may be a better way to examine how we can give stuff away for free yet still survive.
I’ll shut up now, but I’ll come back to this in another post.
Muso’s and music lovers – I welcome your thoughts.