Newspapers well positioned to benefit from amateur contributions

It’s not always easy finding free, non-DRM MP3s to post on MP3Caravan, but I’ve been pretty amazed at all of the good, independent music I have found. A good deal of it — though probably less than half — comes right from artists’ sites.

So far, my iTunes playlist of these downloads is up to 90 songs. And I love everyone.
I haven’t used my eMusic account in a couple of months. I’m busy with the free stuff I’m downloading.

So, with that in mind, this post from Chris Anderson is interesting (he’s quoting Bob Lefsetz):

I’m positively stunned at the blowback from business regulars about that chap [I actually don’t know which chap he’s referring to–maybe this one?] giving his music away for free. Oldsters can’t understand the economics!

I’ll clue you in, THERE ARE NONE!

This is your worst nightmare. People who can follow their dream on sweat equity. Who with their computer and the money from their day job or mommy and daddy can compete with you. It’s like the North Vietnamese, all our military might couldn’t defeat individuals who would fight to the death. Same deal in Iraq.

It’s an eye-opener. That your model is IRRELEVANT!

YOU need to pay the mortgage. YOU need to go on vacation to the Caribbean. But the new musicians? They’re willing to sleep on the floor and eat ramen. Hell, they’re in their twenties, they’re not on the corporate track, they’ve got different ambitions!

This is a level of disruption the newspaper industry has not yet faced. Yes, there are isolated examples of people doing hyperlocal journalism on a low-cost/no-cost basis, but no serious person believes bloggers are going to take over the world.

Songs, though. Songs are different. One good song can last for quite a while, if not forever, and the free ones can crowd out the ones that might cost you money. There are a lot of good musicians and songwriters out there. If every one of the good ones, and a few of the mediocre ones, produce just one song worth keeping, that’s a helluva lot of music. Even an avid music fan couldn’t keep up.

News, being disposable, must constantly be replaced. There’s a harder pace for the amateur newshound to keep up. Obviously, I’m a big fan of amateur journalism, but when you consider the disposable nature of the news story vs. the permanence of a good song, you can see, I think, that the news business isn’t likely to face the same level of disruption (though the disruption we’re dealing with on the revenue side is a concern).

Of course, this difference creates an advantage for newspapers: The web site can become a platform for encouraging, collecting, aggregating and distributing non-staff-generated stories. The lack of permanence means that you need a structure and a process to cycle contributions, which is a structure and process newspaper people know well. As a matter of brand position, our community relationships make it an magnetic place for amateurs to gather and participate.

As for the music business, for guys like me, who basically has no respect for the music industry (the business side of making records), it’s just a matter of helping those independent artists and hobbyists find an audience. That’s part of what is all about.

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1 thought on “Newspapers well positioned to benefit from amateur contributions

  1. […] media blog » Blog Archive » Newspapers well positioned to benefit from amateur contributions The challenges from user-generated content in the newspaper business compared to the music business: “News, being disposable, must constantly be replaced. There’s a harder pace for the amateur newshound to keep up.” (tags: internet newspapers participatory journalism citizenmedia music business free trends) […]

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