Monday, July 5, 2010

If Music Is Free, What Can Catholic Music Publishers Sell?

A site called Technium addresses a burning question on the minds of many Catholic publishers of music. The question is put to me all the time: if you are suggesting that we not copyright restrict our offerings, how do you expect us to make any money?

The question has always boggled my mind, mainly because it suggests that Catholic music publishers have been asleep for about 20 years during which time software writers and many recording artists have successfully used the greatest tool for evangelization ever invented while finding ways to sell their products. Either the publishers are zoned out or completely lacking in creativity because billions of dollars are transferred via digital means every day without resorting to restrictions on downloads and without hiding content behind pay walls.

I need only give the example of this blogging platform that I'm writing on right now - which is 100% free. The content is published into the commons, so that anyone can take it and repost it. And yet, the companies and creators who have encourage Chant Cafe bloggers to use it are doing quite well for themselves.

Back to Technium. The blogger points out that "When copies are free, you need to sell things which can not be copied. Well, what can't be copied? There are a number of qualities that can't be copied. Consider 'trust.'" He continues to offer many practical suggestions, all of which require intelligence, creativity, and work to implement. At least it requires something more creative than merely sitting around waiting for people to cough up money to pay for something that costs nothing on the margin to produce.
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