Give Stuff for Free – Increase Your Sales By 23 000%

Written by Herra Honkonen on Saturday, January 24th, 2009


One of the mantras RIAA, MPAA and other nosy cunts keep bleating is “you can’t compete with free stuff” – meaning what if a consumer can get something for free, he doesn’t have any reason to buy it. Also those who claim that there are people who download things for free and then buy stuff they like are liars or just deluded hypocrites (hmm, I must be imagining half of my CD shelf and all the TV series DVD-boxes, some still in shrink wrap because I’ve already seen them as downloads but wanted to pay for good stuff…)

Ok, the logic in that mantra seems to be beautifully sound. If you get an album or a TV series for free from the net, why pay for it? The thing is, people are not logical and the mantra just doesn’t apply to the real world, which is far more complicated than the oversimplifications the copyright lobbyists love. Some people want to own physical copies of movies or albums, some just want to show their support by paying for stuff they find enjoyable. The notion that no-one would ever do the latter tells far more about the mindsets of the lobbyists than the mindsets of the fans & consumers.

A case in point, Monty Python on Youtube. You could find tons and tons of clips from Monty Python movies and the TV series in Youtube, so what did these merry gentlemen do? Went into a huff, demanded that Youtube has to take down the illegally shared clips & started suing their fans? Nope, instead of that they founded their own Youtube channel, where all the stuff is up for viewing for free and in HD quality. So, according to the copyright lobby logic, they could kiss their DVD sales goodbye?

Wrong. What happened was that their DVD sales rose by a measly 23 000%. At the same time a major study done in Netherlands (in Finnish) revealed that file sharing actually helps the Dutch economy by 100 million euros per year, file sharers don’t buy less stuff than the other people but instead visit more concerts and gigs and game downloaders buy more games than those who don’t pirate them.

The same thing happened with Star Wreck, of course. When it was released as a free download, many internet cynics predicted that it would mean the end of the DVD sales. Instead, they skyrocketed.

So, please, copyright lobbyists and the industry, stop with the stupid already. You have already managed to create one generation who views entertainment industry and artists as greedy cocks who are willing to ruin the lives of their consumers with overblown lawsuits just to make a point. Stop shooting yourself in the foot and get on with the programme. No matter how hard you wish it, you can’t return to the time when all the content was under your control and frankly, you shouldn’t even try.

Instead of staring at the next quarter, look a bit further. The 15 year old kid who now downloads the songs without paying for them is in 10 years a young adult in his first job. By downloading material he has got to know a ton of artists, movies, TV-series and other material he wouldn’t otherwise know about – and more likely than not, his buying power is just going to keep increasing. This works in the software industry too. For example Adobe doesn’t go around suing private persons for pirating Photoshop, Illustrator etc too diligently, since with their pirated copies people learn how to use the software and then make their employer buy it. Everybody wins.

Free distribution is free publicity. File sharing is here to stay and people are going to distribute your stuff no matter what you do – so why not capitalize on it by sharing the stuff the way you want it to be done and giving people an easy way to pay for the product? The only thing you have to lose is a ton of ill will springing from fighting the realities of the modern day.

3 Responses to “Give Stuff for Free – Increase Your Sales By 23 000%”

  1. “For example Adobe doesn’t go around suing private persons for pirating Photoshop, Illustrator etc too diligently, since with their pirated copies people learn how to use the software and then make their employer buy it.”

    This seems to be how Microsoft works too, at least off the record. They don’t seem all that fussed about suing home users with pirate copies, it’s the companies they go after. Even their “report bootleg Windows” program only rewards tips based on how many licences are sold to the offender as a result of the tip-off.

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