Chris Anderson has just published his latest book “Free : The Future Of A Radical Price”. In it the Wired Magazine Editor and bestselling author of The Long Tail discusses the economic peculiarities of a world in which goods, services and media are increasingly being made available for what feels like free: How has this happened, and what does it mean going forwards for us both as consumers and producers?
As a market where digital content has largely been free from the get-go, China is an obvious case study along with other developing nations such as Brazil. Chris has therefore devoted a chapter to these markets, looking at how people are dealing with such realities.
I met Chris for breakfast during one of his research visits to China towards the end of 2007 and, amongst other things, outlined the basic concept of MicroMu (不插店) to him a good 8 months before we actually got round to trying the idea out. A year and a half later (and a year into the MicroMu project) and our copy of Free arrives through the post, complete with a whole page devoted to MicroMu as an example of an experimental free music model:
"The moment you put a fee on accessing music in China is the moment you cut off 90% of your audience," says Peto. "[Paying for*] Music is a luxury for the middle class in China, a flippant expenditure. This model works against that. We simply use free music and media as a way of saying that ‘everyone is welcome’, building a dialogue, building a community, becoming the trusted brand of the grassroots music movement in China. To do this though, we have to become all things to all men: record label, online community, live events producers, merchandise sellers, tv production company."
*Just to clarify: It is the idea of paying for music and not the idea of music itself that is a luxury for the middle class. The words “paying for” were not included in the original text.
The pressure is on to deliver! Many thanks for the mention Chris and good luck with the book launch.