‘Tis the season!
I am rather pleased – this year’s Christmas shopping went very smoothly. I managed to buy all the necessary gifts over two weekends.
But for the second year running, I’ve had to answer the question – “Why don’t you give iTunes vouchers as gifts?”
So glad you asked.
Never mind the opinion I’m about to express (about a hell of DRM) if I can’t come up with a great gift idea then that tells me I don’t know the person I am gifting well enough to bother at all.
If you don’t know what someone likes, why not just give them cash?
My stance on open versus proprietary is simple – I don’t like the latter. I’m a Linux guy.
If I buy something from Apple then I’m tied into that ecosystem for life. I’ve heard all the arguments and I know the products are well designed.
I have spent the last two years in an IT role where “this won’t connect to…” was a daily battle.
Content is completely different to the hardware and software that Apple sells, yet the company has successfully developed an extraordinarily profitable store utilising the same school of thought.
The movies, music, books – the content – that I purchase should be just that: a purchase.
I do not want a rental, or something that can be taken back from me or edited once I’ve handed the cash over.
It is mine. I paid for it. Let me do with it whatever I wish.
Louis CK has made headlines recently for publishing his content under his own terms, free of DRM, direct to consumers, and priced at just $5. If you haven’t already, read Fred Wilson’s blog post on the subject.
In it he quotes Louis CK:
First of all, this was a premium video production, shot with six cameras over two performances at the Beacon Theater, which is a high-priced elite Manhattan venue. I directed this video myself and the production of the video cost around $170,000. (This was largely paid for by the tickets bought by the audiences at both shows). The material in the video was developed over months on the road and has never been seen on my show (LOUIE) or on any other special. The risks were thus: every new generation of material I create is my income, it’s like a farmer’s annual crop. The time and effort on my part was far more than if I’d done it with a big company. If I’d done it with a big company, I would have a guarantee of a sizable fee, as opposed to this way, where I’m actually investing my own money.
The development of the website, which needed to be a very robust, reliable and carefully constructed website, was around $32,000. We worked for a number of weeks poring over the site to make sure every detail would give buyers a simple, optimal and humane experience for buying the video. I edited the video around the clock for the weeks between the show and the launch.
The show went on sale at noon on Saturday, December 10th. 12 hours later, we had over 50,000 purchases and had earned $250,000, breaking even on the cost of production and website. As of Today, we’ve sold over 110,000 copies for a total of over $500,000. Minus some money for PayPal charges etc, I have a profit around $200,000 (after taxes $75.58). This is less than I would have been paid by a large company to simply perform the show and let them sell it to you, but they would have charged you about $20 for the video. They would have given you an encrypted and regionally restricted video of limited value, and they would have owned your private information for their own use. They would have withheld international availability indefinitely. This way, you only paid $5, you can use the video any way you want, and you can watch it in Dublin, whatever the city is in Belgium, or Dubai. I got paid nice, and I still own the video (as do you). You never have to join anything, and you never have to hear from us again.