People like free stuff! How do you make a profit in a world where so much is free? So much of the internet is free as long as you can connect to it. Newspapers are going down the drain because people now feel that news is at the tip of their fingers on the internet and doesn’t need to be paid for.  Writers type out page after page of articles/ blog posts/ facebook stati/ tweets etc. and for the most part, don’t get paid a cent for doing it. Musicians get ripped off by people copying their music illegally through P2P file sharing programs. Like the “free toy inside” that worked in ages past to get me to ask my mom to get that kind of cereal, eventually, you come to realize that the free toy isn’t all that great. You get what you pay for. Times are definitely changing. The internet, those using it, and those creating the content will eventually sort out the system.

So what is the plan? I don’t think anyone has yet figured out exactly what the economy of tomorrow will be, but I do have some predictions. People who have worked to create relationships and a platform of leadership will come out ahead. Those who are willing to try new things and risk failure will be the great leaders of the future.

In the beginning of the internet, people figured out how to send files to each other. Illegal song and movie downloads were rampant. The respective industries at first got defensive and sent their lawyers. Then, groups like Netflix, Spotify and others figured out how to offer the streaming video/music in good quality for a fee and still pay the royalties due to the artists. While there are still illegal sites out there, I dare say that the risks taken by the legal companies are paying off well and most people are avoiding the illegal sites due to the high number of viruses and the low quality of the product. Paying for quality is still important to people.

I do believe the news will end up this way too after we get through the current cycle. As many newspapers go out of business, there will come a time when all the news out there  is badly written copy about a dead cat on the sidewalk or some such drivel. If people don’t pay for news, one can’t expect true investigative reporting to continue if no one pays the reporter. Will the news of the future be the same as it is today…I don’t know, but I don’t think so. In the end, the reporter will get paid for her trouble through some combination of subscription/advertizing or something else that hasn’t been invented yet like a pay per click system such as those used on certain ads but the reporter gets paid for the number of people who read his article.

Eventually, the “FREE TOY INSIDE” will fail. It worked for the box of Cracker Jacks, but not so well for the new car. The wild open world of the internet will tame down. Where will you be when it does?

 

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