Social Networking Blog

Guy Clapperton on the evolving new media

Time to pay the piper

In a way we should all have seen this row coming. On Monday, YouTube’s argument with the Performing Rights Society spilled into the public domain as they failed to reach a commercial agreement about how much the music industry’s content was worth. Music content in the UK is therefore being taken down from YouTube, while Spotify is weighing in with a plea for the industries to sort themselves out.

They will, of course. I’m concerned, though, as a jobbing journalist watching the value of original content eroding as the Web effectively trains people to expect it for nothing. Think about it a second. If I’d asked you what the front page headline of the Times was ten or 15 years ago you’d have gone to a newsagent to find out. If I ask you now you’ll simply go to The Times’ website and tell me the answer. The notion of spending any money has vanished from the equation somwehere along the line.

Likewise if I go to Spotify or Last.FM I expect to be entertained without doing anything as vulgar as handing over any cash. I expect – and get – access to friends’ playlists so I can marvel at apparently cool people being really into Val Doonican, or find that someone’s granny is a closet Iron Maiden fan. I don’t expect to pay.

And inevitably I get annoyed when I find people don’t expect to have to pay for my stuff either, particularly as opportunities to contribute to newspapers narrow in the recession and those same papers, bar the FT, won’t monetise their online readerships. My guess is that this will stop and that everyone’s going to have to assess whether they can start charging for content that’s of value. Of course, at that stage they’ll start to find out what the punters really value, and that could be a nasty shock.

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March 11, 2009 - Posted by | Social media financing

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