Chris Anderson explains “why $0.00 Is the Future of Business.” An excerpt:
On a busy corner in São Paulo, Brazil, street vendors pitch the latest “tecnobrega” CDs, including one by a hot band called Banda Calypso. Like CDs from most street vendors, these did not come from a record label. But neither are they illicit. They came directly from the band. Calypso distributes masters of its CDs and CD liner art to street vendor networks in towns it plans to tour, with full agreement that the vendors will copy the CDs, sell them, and keep all the money. That’s OK, because selling discs isn’t Calypso’s main source of income. The band is really in the performance business — and business is good. Traveling from town to town this way, preceded by a wave of supercheap CDs, Calypso has filled its shows and paid for a private jet.
I am reminded here of Christian Lander: the author of Stuff White People Like has built up a phenomenal readership by offering up free blogposts, and this will surely help him become a best-selling author when (surely not ‘if’) his book on the subject is released. (I first blogged about that site on February 27, and it has notched up more than 4 million pageviews since then.)
This kind of cross-subsidizing has been common since the days of Gillette, as Anderson points out, but is only one of many ways to make money with free content—read his full article for more.
Also read, if you haven’t already, Anderson’s seminal 2004 article, “The Long Tail”, which led to his excellent book of the same name. (My posts on that: 1, 2.) This article is an appetizer for his forthcoming book, FREE, which I am waiting eagerly to read.
(Link via email from Rohan D’Sa.)