I’ve long been a fan of artists, publishers and film studios using piracy and peer to peer to turn a profit, instead of fighting the tide. I talked about it for film here, and for music here and here.
Is it a simple solution? No. Does it have pitfalls (mainly, are their folks out there who won’t ever buy your stuff legally)? Yes. Can it work? Yes. There have been several case studies in music (mostly the “pay what you want” model, as espoused by bands like Radiohead and concept companies like 1band1brand, in which the “what you want” part is occasionally zero but the overpayers/true fans often make up for that) and a couple in film (mostly movies obtaining small release deals from the peer to peer buzz they generated).
Now we have a solid book publishing case study in the new children’s book “Go the F*ck to Sleep“. Instead of rewriting the Fast Company article that gives more detail on the story, I’ll point you to it and let you form your own opinion.
If the creative industries who are feeling their old business models crumble under their feet are seeking a one to one replacement for the old business model, they aren’t going to find it. We are now in a fluid creative content economy based in a la carte sales and peer to peer recommendations, dependent largely on reach.
Am I encouraging people to pirate? Heck no. I’m a big believer in paying the artist who makes what I like. Am I encouraging people who have things to sell to think creatively about price structure and sales tactics and be fluid in getting the message out? I am indeed.
I’d love it if you shared your stories about pirating helping (or hurting) your content and business model in the comments. Only by examining both sides of the peer to peer coin can we develop new ways for people to support themselves with their art.