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Digital Economic Models – tried and tested to blue sky

  • Aug 24, 2011 · 6:30 PM
  • Photographers' Gallery Office

24 August, 6.30 - 8pm

As the pressure from funders intensifies to find alternative revenue streams – redirecting our expectations from state funding to philanthropy particularly – the Net and digital are enjoying part of the attention as a source of potential answers to our ‘problem’.

The Net has for mass media constituted something of a slow motion train wreck, with the traditional economies and stable revenues of a range of sectors undergoing major transformations, if not outright crises. So if music and newspapers, to name a couple, have experienced digital as a disruptive rather than beneficial force, why should it be any different for the ‘micro media’ of the cultural community?

It might be argued that one significant difference between the output of cultural producers and their mass media counterparts is that culture remains governed by an ethos of uniqueness (the singular, live experience of a performance; the personal experience of an artwork in space), whereas mass media is formatted precisely to be repackagable for its multiple digital destinations. While mass media producers thus render themselves vulnerable to ‘disruption’ from the likes of iTunes or, at the other end of the spectrum, pirates, culture might be regarded as existing in a cordon sanitaire of sorts – safe and, ironically, in possession of something to sell!

For August’s Meetup we propose to divide this discussion on Economic Models into two simple areas: 1) well-tried or proven economic models and 2) more experimental models that are nonetheless advancing in their development, or reaching a state of maturity.

As is known by most of us who work in the cultural sector, these latter areas present risks that are often too high for already overstretched organisations to countenance. The question is, does the ‘austerity’ model of collaborations/partnerships now being promoted by funders genuinely offer more realistic prospects for success?

1) Tried and tested areas
(NB – the list below is presented with the caveat that we are all aware eCommerce and ticketing is still a long way from offering smooth and reliable experiences!)

  • Intellectual property
  • Online archives – which can be used to drive traffic to other paid content (an example being London Review of Books’ release of its back catalogue archive to drive subscriptions)
  • Educational lecture series – which can be used to attract people to courses, or as exclusive added value content for course attendees.
  • Freemium v paid-for content
  • Donations
  • Advertising
  • eCommerce
  • Ticketing

2) Experimental/advanced areas

  • Crowdfunding/Crowdsourcing
  • Micro fan payment – e.g. Flattr, a micro donations service
  • Flat rate – this is a Collections Agency model for the Net, like Performing Rights Society (PRS) in the UK but for net content
  • Pay-per-view, Download-to-own or Streaming of content – examples being YouTube’s paid channels or dedicated services like DigitalTheatre
  • ePublishing – apps, tablet and eBooks content
  • IPTV/Web TV – paid web TV Channels like Sky Arts
  • Cloud services and hosting – From Google Apps and Docs, to straight web hosting
  • PayPal – its ‘Adaptive Payment Framework’, which allows for payments to be split among recipients automatically
  • Amazon Pro Merchant seller accounts – which allow selling across the EU, with fulfillment and zero postage in UK, DE, FR, IT.
  • Alternative currencies – Bit-Coin

Please join us for what promises to be an interesting discussion, and do feed back on the above if you would like to.

We look forward to seeing you!

The AoDL Team

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  • A former member
    A former member

    Was really looking forward to a new conversation about business models and new tools but most of the event was spent in the usual conversation about funding and IP. We need to move on the debate!

    August 25, 2011

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