Tuesday, 14 August 2012
A Manifesto for the content industry 11 - This is a global market
If you charge western prices to the third world then people will find a way to get the content for free. 99c might not be a lot to readers of this blog but it’s a day’s wage to large amounts of the globe. The bad news is that you can’t stop a European going to an African website and buying from there, your unit cost is zero, expect your prices to trend that way.
This will be a short entry because it’s really just simple economics (even if it’s frequently missed by a great number of corporations who should know better).
Point 1: Once something is on the web it is effectively available everywhere. Sure you can try blocking things by regions and this will work for casual users and non-techy folks* but these things are easy to work around.
Point 2: Your unit cost is effectively zero**, everyone understands this, your unit price will have to be close to that for people to feel that they’re not being ripped off.
“Close to zero” is a variable though. In Western Europe or North America you can just about get away with 99c (or 99p) being “close to zero”. In the Far East, Eastern Europe, Russia, India and other areas of Asia, South America, anywhere in Africa, 99c gets ever further away from “close to zero” and ever closer to “a day’s wage”.
People will not pay a day’s wage for a digital entertainment file.
If you price your product that way then you can expect a high proportion of piracy in those countries. So you have two options: local pricing or acceptance that that market is not going to provide you with any income from digital downloads***.
However if you go for local pricing we get back to this “global market” thing. I have a friend who buys all his MP3s from a Russian site. It’s all completely legit (as far as he’s aware), but only a 10 th of the price. No laws broken, no copyright infringed, 1/10th the outlay.
But maybe 10 times the risk?
I’ve never used this site for two reasons:
1) I’m not comfortable giving my credit card details to a Russian website.
2) I’m not convinced that any of that money will ever make it back to the original artist.
And those two reasons mean a business opportunity still exists.
Let’s face it, a lot of the countries that have the lowest standards of living are also rife with corruption, if you run a trusted, 1st world web-company then that alone will be reason for some people to buy (see Amazon and iTunes for examples).
Secondly the success of things like Kickstarter, NoiseTrade and Bandcamp shows that there are a lot of customers out there who want to support the artist.
If you can facilitate that, show that you’re helping to get that content made, and provide a trustworthy service, then there’s a place for you.
* Warning, non-techy folks are a decreasing proportion of the population, building your business model on them is not a long-term strategy.
** I know that there are hosting and management costs for large businesses, but those large businesses are shifting lots of units.
*** It could still provide you with income from other channels though, don’t write it off.