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A quote from an article by Clay Shirky called, Fame vs Fortune: Micropayments and Free Content :

The economics of content creation are in fact fairly simple. The two critical questions are "Does the support come from the reader, or from an advertiser, patron, or the creator?" and "Is the support mandatory or voluntary?"

The internet adds no new possibilities. Instead, it simply shifts both answers strongly to the right. It makes all user-supported schemes harder, and all subsidized schemes easier. It likewise makes collecting fees harder, and soliciting donations easier. And these effects are multiplicative. The internet makes collecting mandatory user fees much harder, and makes voluntarily subsidy much easier.

Weblogs, in particular, represent a huge victory for voluntarily subsidized content. The weblog world is driven by a million creative people, driven to get the word out, willing to donate their work, and unhampered by the costs of xeroxing, ink, or postage. Given the choice of fame vs fortune, many people will prefer a large audience and no user fees to a small audience and tiny user fees. This is not to say that creators cannot be paid for their work, merely that mandatory user fees are far less effective than voluntary donations, sponsorship, or advertising.

My interest in this should be obvious. In the last 30 days, episodes of the C-Realm Podcast have been downloaded 9,803 times. In that same period I have received 10 donations from 10 listeners totaling $231.52 (of which PayPal kept $10.78 for their trouble).

If I divide the total amount I took in by the number of downloads it comes to $0.0236 (about two and a half cents) per download. Two and a half cents per-download is certainly a micro-payment, but in actual fact a small subset of the audience made voluntary macro-payments while the bulk of listeners simply enjoyed free content.

Don't get me wrong. I'd rather people listen than not, and I have made it very clear on the podcast that I only want to receive donations from people who have more income than they have expenses. I certainly wouldn't want anyone to make a donation to the C-Realm using a credit card which carries an ever growing balance.

In any event, it seems that the obvious means of increasing the amount I earn with the podcast is to grow the audience.


( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 6th, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
I think you should make a voluntary recurring monthly donation, where those that choose that option can have a monthly donation automatically deducted from their paypal account.
Usually when I donate to a podcast I try to make my donation at the very least $20.00 or more. In todays economy any amount less than that is literally worth almost nothing to the person receiving it. But even though it is almost nothing it’s rare, to never, that I feel I have a twenty laying around and nothing that it needs to do.

However, if three dollars came out of my paypal account every single month that would be fine.
C2CAM charges $6.95, and even though it’s nightly it’s not worth it. AT ALL. But that’s a different topic. All I am saying is I (and I am guessing a lot of others) would be happy to see an auto payment plan such as this set up by you.

Red Ice has an interesting twist, you get half the show for free but if you want to hear the second half you have to be a member. I think their sub is about $5.00 a month.
I don’t know, I cancelled shortly after the Phelps interview, so I forget. You might ask them how that works out for them. I think they do two shows a week and some video work also.

Not only that, I think you are too easy on your listeners. Last time I gave you a donation you basically told me to knock it off, LOL.
I think you need to do something about this donation situation, you’re not in any position to do this for free. And I know you would if you could, but I don’t see how people expect you to go on like this. And it isn’t as if you haven’t told your audience that the donations are scarce to nonexistent on the rare occasion.

Why don’t you set it up KMO? That way anyone so inclined can click the button once for a reasonable recurring monthly donation. I’d be the first one to click it.
Sep. 6th, 2008 07:10 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Victoria
You're actually not the first to make this exact suggestion. The only reason I haven't done it is that I don't know how. I'll poke around on PayPal and see if anything obvious presents itself.
Sep. 7th, 2008 03:50 pm (UTC)
$3 Monthly Subscription enabled
Listeners can now subscribe to the C-Realm Podcast through PayPal. The PodOMatic interface isn't very flexible, and so I couldn't put the "subscribe" button right below the "donate" button. It's down a bit further on the page below the graphic for the C-Realm Amazon store.

Edited at 2008-09-07 03:50 pm (UTC)
Sep. 6th, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC)
Micropayments! I wholeheartedly agree!

It's weird; anytime I discuss the need for payments of, say, $.05 to create a micro-economy of scale, those in the tech biz scoff. "Too small to bother with," they always say. For the seller, it's seen as de riguour to simply pad the sale and bring the perceived value to above a buck.

Look what Africa is doing with micropayments. They use their cell phone accounts, sometimes paying in increments of less than a second of air time. E-Wallets in Japan enable folks to use their cell phones to buy stuff anywhere with a receiver (and most places have them). Here in the US, we are missing a vital market opportunity just because we think there is no value in something costing less than a dollar.

I'd happily pay ten cents for an hour's worth of podcast. Pity I don't have that option, nor do you have the option of setting the price that low. It just pisses me off.
Sep. 6th, 2008 08:28 pm (UTC)
Here's what Clay Shirky had to say about micropayments in the linked article:
The people pushing micropayments believe that the dollar cost of goods is the thing most responsible for deflecting readers from buying content, and that a reduction in price to micropayment levels will allow creators to begin charging for their work without deflecting readers.

This strategy doesn't work, because the act of buying anything, even if the price is very small, creates what Nick Szabo calls mental transaction costs, the energy required to decide whether something is worth buying or not, regardless of price. The only business model that delivers money from sender to receiver with no mental transaction costs is theft, and in many ways, theft is the unspoken inspiration for micropayment systems.

Like the salami slicing exploit in computer crime, micropayment believers imagine that such tiny amounts of money can be extracted from the user that they will not notice, while the overall volume will cause these payments to add up to something significant for the recipient. But of course the users do notice, because they are being asked to buy something. Mental transaction costs create a minimum level of inconvenience that cannot be removed simply by lowering the dollar cost of goods.

Worse, beneath a certain threshold, mental transaction costs actually rise, a phenomenon is especially significant for information goods. It's easy to think a newspaper is worth a dollar, but is each article worth half a penny? Is each word worth a thousandth of a penny? A newspaper, exposed to the logic of micropayments, becomes impossible to value.
I'd happily pay ten cents for an hour's worth of podcast. Pity I don't have that option...

You can certainly use the PayPal link to donate ten cents. On the rare occasions when I talk about suggested levels of donation, I encourage people to donate 25 cents per episode. That would be a dollar a month or 12 dollars a year. After one such episode, someone sent me a PayPal donation in the amount of 25 cents. Lorenzo has mentioned receiving a donation of 2 cents.
Sep. 6th, 2008 08:49 pm (UTC)
Re: micropayments
They may bloviate as much as they like about "mental transaction costs" and the like, but I remain of the opinion that until micropayments are attemtped the real impacts -- both positive and negative -- will never be known.

I may return to PayPal one day, but that Charlie Foxtrot of a few years ago really burned any bridges between us that may have existed.
Sep. 6th, 2008 09:02 pm (UTC)
Re: micropayments
...until micropayments are attemtped the real impacts -- both positive and negative -- will never be known.

They've certainly been tried. (FirstVirtual, Cybercoin, Millicent, Digicash, Internet Dollar, Pay2See) Scott McCloud (smccloud)has been talking up the promise of micropayments as the path to financial viability for web-based cartoonists for over a decade now. I had my hopes invested in it for many years. At this point, I file it with AI and room temperature superconductivity under "If it happens, great! But I'm not holding my breath."

...that Charlie Foxtrot of a few years ago really burned any bridges between us that may have existed.

(Deleted comment)
Sep. 7th, 2008 01:34 am (UTC)
Re: micropayments
Of course, not being a podcaster, nor having any other reason to collect donations, I don't really know what it's like on your end beyond what I can imagine.

I did somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 episodes before I even put the PayPal button on the podcast page. I'm not doing this thing for the money. I remember reading something from Dave Sim many years ago where he said that he could literally have made more money babysitting than he did from publishing Cerebus for the first five years.

This post sprang from the Clay Shirky article. This topic wasn't on my mind when I woke up this morning. I don't loose any sleep anguishing over the level of C-Realm Podcast donations. I would like to see the show reach a wider audience, but I get enough feedback and encouragement to keep going for now. And I would like to make my living doing something I find meaningful, and I hope that if I keep doing what I'm doing I'll get there eventually.
Sep. 7th, 2008 12:07 pm (UTC)
In terms of micro payments, have you considered talking to anyone in SecondLife if they'd broadcast your podcast or set up a tip jar for you? I heard about your podcast via second-life. There's a psychedelic community that meets there and discusses stuff fairly frequently. Anyhow, L$ can be exchanged for US$ without any overhead so it does work out as a functional micropay system.
Sep. 7th, 2008 01:35 pm (UTC)
So many great ideas, so little time
I get loads of marvelous suggestions on getting the word out from people. Thing is, actually doing the podcast, arranging and recording the interviews, recording my parts, and all the post production and getting it posted and documented takes up the bulk of my spare time.

I have never set foot in Second Life. I don't know much about how it works other than that it seems like a graphical MUSH more than a MMORPG.
Sep. 10th, 2008 04:43 pm (UTC)
Re: So many great ideas, so little time
I tried SL a few times. I would call it a mutant cross between Facebook and World of Warcrack, with a bandwidth-hogging interface that has a learning curve as steep as the slopes of K2. If you are already into it, I'm sure it's great, but I for one don't have the time or the computing resources available for it.
Sep. 7th, 2008 04:06 pm (UTC)
Hey DV girl. That's cool you learned about KMO on SL. I was the one that put that notecard together.
I think I might be able to stream KMO into SL also. I have a skybox over in Gilum. But I usually just stream radio, I don't have shoutcast or anything.
I don't come on SL much anymore though. So haven't attended any of Leous meetings lately either.

I had a build at burning life last year where I streamed McKenna. So loads of people that had never heard of him came round and that was great.

I still have one gallery on the native lands there and it does indeed make some pretty fair real life money. Also there's a podcaster from AU that has quite a following on SL. It's a good idea... I wonder if Leou would be at all interested in playing a KMO show and discussing it? Maybe not, I think he likes to be the star, haha.
Sep. 8th, 2008 07:09 pm (UTC)
saw this on twitter earlier today, sort of fortuitous timing (insert McKenna quote about coincidence here):

"I don’t care about making sure that everyone who gets a copy of my books pays me for them — what I care about is ensuring that the everyone who would pay me decent money for a book has the opportunity to do so."

I heard on a semi-recent Psychedelic Salon that Lorenzo recently got a Big Donor who wants to sponsor the Salon for quite some time to come. I wonder what it would take to get the same for the C-Realm? cos it takes a whole lot of ten cents and ten dollars to reach a decent amount.
Sep. 8th, 2008 09:09 pm (UTC)
I wonder what it would take to get the same for the C-Realm?

All I know to do is keep creating new shows.
Sep. 10th, 2008 04:34 pm (UTC)
Re: Sponsorship
Yeah, I hear ya. I guess I was thinking more about whether there's some other kind of "content" that you could produce that would be salable. I dunno, like, have you ever thought of writing a book? Of course, (almost) nobody makes all their money off writing books, but a book plus the podcast plus paid speaking gigs might start to reach a part-time salary. I dunno. I'm just speculating. plus I'm considering trying to write a book myself, not for exactly the same reasons, but with hope for a similar fiscal future.

If you don't mind my asking, what is your employment background? Do you have some kind of skill set that might conjoin with a path into a more lucrative area of our community (a la Alicia Danforth)?
Sep. 11th, 2008 11:21 am (UTC)
Re: Sponsorship
I actually hired someone on elance to transcribe some of the interviews that relate to potential collapse scenarios for publication as a book, but as good as the person doing the transcription was, I still have to go through each interview and check the transcript against the audio to correct errors, and that's very time consuming. I was about half done with the task when I left for Peru and I haven't picked it back up again.

...a book plus the podcast plus paid speaking gigs might start to reach a part-time salary.

That's my dream career, but it would be really hard to do it part time. My current day-job has yet to present me with a consistent schedule which makes it hard to even schedule interviews for the podcast.

If you don't mind my asking, what is your employment background? Do you have some kind of skill set that might conjoin with a path into a more lucrative area of our community (a la Alicia Danforth)?

I'm 40 years old, and I've never worked any one job for more than two years. I spent most of my 30's living off my Amazon.com stock option windfall and not doing paid work, so there's a gaping hole in my work history. On paper I have no particular career path. My skill set is on display each week in the C-Realm Podcast, but in terms of what I can claim on a job application in terms of verifiable past employment, my background is in teaching, customer service and... (shiver) ...sales.

At present, I work at a truck stop.

Edited at 2008-09-11 11:22 am (UTC)
Sep. 11th, 2008 01:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Sponsorship
You work at a truckstop? Wow. What is THAT like?
Sep. 11th, 2008 02:05 pm (UTC)
What is THAT like?
Well, right now it's the typical new job brain haze. The pay is nothing special (to put it mildly) and I can tell that it's going to take some dedicated effort on my part to stay calm and use my people skills to not rub the head dude the wrong way or let him get under my skin, but the number two guy who really runs the place has got a clear head in terms of what needs doing, so things should be okay on the "relations with management" front (which has always been my chief challenge with any job).

We live in a place of relatively (for the east coast) low population density, and most jobs are a long commute from here. The main advantage of the truck stop is that it is 7.5 miles from where I live and not a single hill between here and there, so I'm going to be riding my newly acquired bicycle to work once I get it back from the bike shop. I found it on Craig's list, and it wasn't road-ready when I got it.

My dog now lives with my mother in Arkansas, and walking him was my main form of physical exercise, so biking 15 miles a day will do me a world of good (provided it doesn't get me killed).
Sep. 11th, 2008 02:16 pm (UTC)
Re: What is THAT like?
Hmmm, yes I understand. I've never done well with bosses either. This has forced me to mostly lead a life of un or self employment.
I just got a new Trek 3900 mountain bike as a gift. It's a pretty amazing ride, I'm very impressed.
Sep. 12th, 2008 03:01 am (UTC)
Re: What is THAT like?
I didn't realize that you had to leave Ungo back in Arkansas. That would be hard for me if I had to leave my pups with someone else. So sorry to hear that. I hope you can work something out to get him back with you.

I'm also sorry that you had to leave your chickens behind too. I could understand the difficulties with bringing them a little more though. I've been gearing up to buy some chickens. I'm designing my coop right now and I'm going to try to use all salvaged materials and supplies to build it.

RE the job, have you gotten any response on the jouranlist position yet?

Forgive me if you've mentioned this elsewhere, but what was the motivation for moving to MD?

Keep your chin up, something is bound to pan out for you.

Sep. 12th, 2008 04:01 pm (UTC)
A simple idea of mine. ..
Well, I'm certainly getting to this conversation late, but basically I have an idea that I'm going to try and seed with BLITA's audience. I'm going to encourage our listeners to not only donate to our show, but to pick 20+ other things they think are worth supporting, and to send them each $1 a month. I figure, if every person allocates $25 per month strictly for supporting endeavors they appreciate, then that could make a noticeable difference. Another thing I think this might do, is to deflect the notion of asking for donations just for our show, which to some might sound brash and I know the idea of it makes me uncomfortable(thought I do see the need for it!). I think that overall pushing this idea will create a sense of conscience in people to "put their money where their mind is" and really start helping out the things that enhance their life.

Using the $25 ideas still, a person could, instead of picking 25 different things and giving each $1, they could pick 12-13 things and give them each $2 a month, or pick 8-9 things and give them $3 a month. So it's scalable to the range of a persons interests and it also!

I got to thinking about this, KMO, after an episode when you mentioned the "donate just 25cents" idea, and I thought, well hell, let's raise it to $1 and then encourage the people to help other shows/projects out as well!

Now that we have a paypal setup, I'm gonna start seeding this idea in every show so we'll see how it plays upon people's "buying conscience".

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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