It Goes the Other Way

January 12 2021

Everyone is talking about the way that the Internet pushes the cost of content down towards zero. This is obvious, but what if it goes the other way too?

As Patreon has grown, this is creating upward pressure from zero, and is tied directly into the Internet logic of small-scale payments. In other words, they began to create a language that says “here is where it’s okay, good, etc.” to throw people a few bucks.

At the same time, Facebook Live has created a way to throw presenters coins or something, that are real money; people get to demonstrate their contribution, and the presenters get to acknowledge them.

YouTube has created ways to thank content creators within their platform.

And although I am not very impressed with it yet, at least Spotify has created some ways for fans to “thank” the artists they love.

This is all outside the obvious ways in which content creators can get sponsors and directly advertise.

I now sponsor three podcasts, and throw them a pittance each month. But I feel like I am a part of something. They send me things. I am not in their inner circle, but I am supporting them, in some fashion.

Substack is growing a list of paid newsletters, starting at $5 a month and going up from there. This seems quite amazing to me.

When I went on there to look at them, it occurred to me, " maybe I might try one of those paid ones, and see what that’s like". This would never have occurred to me before, but these various trends, all start to make it seem more like “a thing I might do”. And this is the upward pressure I am talking about.

I think that the combination of:

  • A trend towards micro-payments for content that makes you feel special, lets you contribute, is more organized

  • Plus the integrated distribution systems of the internet, once these processes are well-integrated (culturally and technologically)

    …makes it all seem so possible

    I feel it is changing the culture, and putting upward-pressure on the system. This is interesting.

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© Alexander Feller 2018