As business re-invents itself, as it stumbles into the future, much of what we know to be tried and true is no longer working. As trust of big brands and certain industries continues to shrink, we need to consider newer ways of building that trust we took for granted. In 2006 Chris Anderson of Wired Magazine shared in his book, The Long Tail, Free is a business model. Jeff Jarvis writes about the model in his book called, What would Google Do? Gerd Leonhard talks about putting things out there, in the jungle, give much of your value away, where getting paid is a walk of faith, if you bring value, you will get paid. He has some interesting insight in his talk The Price of Freedom, he explains why ‘free’ content can still pay in the long term. I may be over simplifying the free model, but there is a bigger model to discuss, and it is related to the free model, it’s far bigger and a much more interesting model to consider.

People want something that allows them to participate, something of value that can’t be simply copied, something scarce that is worth paying for, but want to try it, taste it, smell it, before they hand over the cash. This is a faith walk because you don’t know where or if the money will come, it’s a YES / NO / MAYBE, complete ambiguity, complete faith in the consumer. Even if you are not giving it away outright, you may be letting them have access to it, to your product, your service or platform. The key word here is platform as I discussed in an blog post a few days ago.

We are entering a society that doesn’t value ownership, we would rather rent it or borrow it when shared, long before buying it. The longer you sit out here on the NET, the world gets smaller, you find like-mined people much quicker, and some are sharing the same message you may be sharing. That doesn’t matter, each of us has a voice, each of us has something of value to share, each of us sees things differently, our voice matters, so share your take on things. Give yourself away, let people rent you and your content. Build a platform that can’t be ignored, then share it.

I came across an interesting TED talk by Lisa Gansky called, The Future of Business is The MESH. In this talk she shares that access will trump ownership, that a brand is a voice, a product is a souvenir, we are in the pursuit of better things to easily share. The need for aligning value with the true cost. I love finding new people sharing the same message you find here on this blog, and I love sharing their work with you.

Here is Lisa’s talk, it’s a short 15 minutes, enjoy!

I know your scratching your head wondering what I mean by this, stay with me and let me share some thoughts on the topic. We’ve been and still are under the bondage of control & protectionism, just look at the Newspaper & Music industries as an example. I’m not opposed to the creators, writers and artists from being compensated for their work, I’m suggesting that there is and will be a better ways to ensure that compensation happens.

I’m a firm believer that making content readily available and free will create new ways of monetizing, eventually most will figure out how to monetize around that content. If the music industry is smart, they will make collective agreements with those distributing music now, especially those doing it illegally by today’s laws. Pirates if you will, are not really the enemy, they are however breaking new artists all the time, the music industry benefits while the pirate(s) don’t get paid for finding them. The model is now beginning to reverse and is becoming open, the pirate will still find and break new music while everyone else benefits including the pirate. Collaboration is far better than the closed system of control we have today in the music industry. In Matt Mason’s book The Pirate’s Dilemma: How Youth Culture Is Reinventing Capitalism (affiliate link) he states, “To compete or not to compete” that’s the question music labels have to answer. That is, to compete with the pirates not against them. The pirate is not going away so it makes more sense to change copyright to usage rights, to rewrite these binding, closed mechanisms to open collective agreements. So instead of fighting the pirate, work with them and feel the benefit, distribute the music freely through systems like Apple’s iTunes. Apple could essentially pay the labels a fee for that distribution, hence they still make there cut and everyone is happy. It sounds simplistic but it’s not, I’m merely sharing this is how it will be in the near future, I don’t know the details of making it work.

You & I won’t tolerate gate keepers and closed systems, you can’t put content behind walls and generate new money, only in an open & free environment will you make new money. Those words are Gerd Leonhard’s , he is a media futurist and his focus is the music industry. From his book called Music 2.0 he makes an interesting statement in the segment called, Access Will Replace Ownership and the Consumer Will Drive the Business:

In three to five years, consumers will have access to “their” music anytime, anywhere, and the physical possession of it will in fact be more of a handicap, or a pastime for collectors. Music will feel (and act) more like water, and music providers will become utilities.

Keep in mind this book was written prior to 2008, it is a collection of essays previously released. I’m not an authority on the music industry, I do however preach his message and see open and free as a sound business model. His new book I have yet to read but you can get it here: Friction is Fiction: The Future of Content, Media & Business (Affiliate Link)

Gary Vaynerchuk has also seen the shift long before it started, he produced 40 minute video’s on Wine Library TV and gave you the content free for 17 months before anyone really knew who he was. How do you think he is doing today, he took the family business from 3 -4 million a year to over 60 million a year doing that show. Today he has a 10 book deal due to the open & free business model, he continues to build his legacy in this new model. His goal is simple, buy the New York Jets NFL team and spend more time with his family. Gary’s message is simple, embrace who you are, your DNA, work hard, work really hard, and never give up on your passion. He doesn’t promise you you’ll make it big, nor does he claim you will be a millionaire, he does however promise, if you do what your passionate about you will win. Winning does not mean lots of money, it may however mean you will enjoy and maybe even love what you do. he preaches his message everywhere and to anyone who will listen, his book hit the New York Top Sellers List and is still available, Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion (Affiliate Link)

There are other examples of this business model working, the true test will be if and more like when Industries see the revenue streams around what they sell, how they look for gaps, create vehicles and harness the power of their audiences.

How will you embrace this new environment of Open & Free as a business model?

If your are interested in coming to one of my Open & Free Business Model Workshops, please email me Here