You get what you pay for, or at least you should

I could download music for “free” online, I could use peer to peer networks etc, but it takes time & quite a lot of effort to find what I want and the results aren’t always that good. So while I could get all my music for free, I instead pay for it all. Why? well for a start it’s legal (but let’s ignore that aspect for now), but mainly because “free” isn’t actually “free”, it takes a lot of my time to get what I want via peer to peer, so while I’m not handing over my hard earned reddies for the files, I am spending my time and that’s a far more valuable commodity, as I can’t get that back once I’ve spent it!

So using a service such as iTunes, in real terms actually costs me less! as I get what I want, when I want it, in a format that I want, that is convenient for me! and that last bit is the key, “convenient for me!”

Free news content spread out all across the internet is fine, but I have to invest my time & effort to get at it, so it’s not actually free! But that’s how I choose to get my news! why? because unlike iTunes that makes it convenient for me to get the music I want, news organisations make it difficult, they don’t want to play together, they insist on my coming to their individual uncoordinated websites, delivering content in formats that are no good to me, I want my news my way, I want it on my eBook reader, my mobile, my laptop, my TV, my handheld device, whatever I want, whenever I want it and in whatever format that’s good for me! Rather than embracing this approach, they’re afraid & running away from an iTunes equivalent for news, they don’t want to make it convenient for me the user, they want to make it convenient for themselves. If they continue with this insular view & down this route they will choke themselves, just like the music industry did.

This is exactly what we’re trying to do with no paper. As we say, the future isn’t newspapers! it’s news with no paper™, but they don’t want to change, they want to find ways to carry on producing tonnes on paper based content paid for with a shrinking advertising revenue, then when they see that isn’t working, they then bizarrely think that online advertising will support their online efforts, but it won’t! It’s all about delivering content with value worth paying for, it’s about being customer centric, it’s about good user experiences, it’s about ease of use, and most of all in this time constrained world, it’s about convenience for me! it has to be simple, a no brainer to use and all about me!

As I said, I pay for my music using iTunes because it’s convenient, I’d happily pay for my news content in the same way, so will millions of others!

Watch this space!

Shift Happens, Are You Ready?

The following is an edited version of a post from my personal blog

I recently found my notes from a presentation I gave 13 years ago, at the time upon seeing it, everyone I knew thought I was nuts, as the basis of the presentation was simple All music will be available online for free, or so cheap that it might as well be” as the distributors and artist will make their money in other ways, concerts, t-shirts sales, merchandise etc in essence giving the customers what they want.

Look at the music industry in the past 10 years then think about what I said back then, just how crazy was I? The labels tried DRM, it didn’t work (DRM free did), they tried to keep prices high, that didn’t work either, they were too slow to move with the tide. You only have to look at the likes of Jamendo to see the predictions coming to fruition, entirely free, good quality, legal music downloads.

The movie industry is doing the same, they think they’re safe due to movie file sizes, but they’re not, data speeds are going up, compression improving, portable players increasing… DVD’s have a 2-3 year life expectancy, HD-DVD & Blu-Ray was undoubtedly the last physical format war, everything will be online & instantly available very very soon!

As they say, “Shift Happens”, the newspaper & journal industry in it’s current form is on it’s last legs, they appear to have forgotten what they’re really about, which is delivering “News” not newspapers, paper is merely the delivery mechanism, but it’s days are numbered, newspapers & books are a dying format, there will be those that will cling on to the printed page as long as they can, but sooner or later you have to face up to the tide of change.

So there’s a mindset shift that needs to happen with those that like to read paper now, but the next generation won’t have the same limitations, they’ll simply want whatever is most convenient and most up to date, as we say, no paper is the future. Although a limiting factor currently is the hardware, reading on a computer screen or an iPhone isn’t great, eReaders that use e-Ink like the Kindle are so like reading paper, you hardly notice you’re not, and their costs are tumbling. It’s time for the publishing houses worldwide to wake up, accept the sea of change, and prepare for it, otherwise they better be ready to move over when the flood happens & those ready to embrace the advantages of the new formats and market space out pace them. If the old guard don’t step up to the plate, new ePublishing houses will appear on the scene giving the audience what they want (now where have I heard that before?)

Will eBooks, replace paper books & newspapers? absolutely… but at the end of the day, does it really matter which format prevails, as long as more people are reading & writing, who cares how it’s delivered, we’ll all be winners!

UPDATE 5th Feb 2009:
I just noticed the video below on Jaculynn Peterson’s old blog (she now has a new one!). It’s a video clip of Michael Rosenblum at The Society of Editors conference 2008, it would appear that we are kindred spirits!