Embracing the Flow

Last spring I wrote a research memo for the Convergence Culture Consortium about dealing with the unfettered flow of content in contemporary entertainment industries. It’s now public and you can download the PDF here.

Here’s a teaser from page one:

One of the most vexing issues facing the content industries is their loss of control over the distribution of digital material. Combined with the ability of consumers and fans to organize and voice opinions more loudly than ever before, many industries, including recording, broadcast, and motion picture, find themselves acting from defensive postures, seeking to shut down grassroots activities and file sharing.

In contrast, some in the industry, particularly (though not exclusively) independent artists, have embraced this unfettered flow of materials and discourse. This C3 research memo (1) briefly identifies the current situation of information and content flow and the kinds of steps being taken to combat it. Against this backdrop, it then (2) identifies the reasons one might choose to embrace these changes rather than fighting them (3) argues that these industries need to consider the role of social exchange in addition to the economic exchange models they are used to in building consumers’ willingness to pay for content they can obtain for free and (4) proposes specific strategies for building social exchange relationships in this environment. In what follows, I use music as an exemplar, but the discussion will not be limited to music.

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