Paulo Coelho has rocked the publishing world by making his back catalogue available for download at 99 cents a book.
This was a deal negotiated at the London Book Fair by his agent Monica Antunes with HarperCollins in the USA. Currently it only applies to the US but pressure is being applied by his readers worldwide.
What Paulo Coelho is forcing is a paradigm shift.
The comments in Publishers Weekly give an idea of how controversial. His readers are all in favour. They think it a great idea, they can see that more people will read his books.
Those dependent on the old discredit model just do not get it, as can be seen by comments from a man who admits he is an agent for authors, though he refuses to say who his clients are.
He just does not get it that the old discredited model is finished. A business model that criminalizes those who may wish to buy, not exactly the way to win friends and influence (though lobbyists who whore for them can always buy a few corrupt politicians).
Musicians too have woken up to this new world. They put their music on bandcamp, where it can be listened to for free (the entire album not a few second lofi sample), easily shared and often downloaded for free or pay-what-you-think-it-is-worth or a minimum price. And guess what, people are willing to pay more. People are willing to pay more because they know the money is going to the creative artists who make the music they love, not to a greedy, faceless, global corporation, which at best treats music as a commodity.
One such group is Hope and Social. And guess what? They are making more money, and having more fun, than when they followed the conventional model of being on a corporate record label.
Hope and Social explain why their music is free in a post Why ‘Pay What You Can’? which I reproduce in its entirety below.
- Music is Not Our Currency
- Why give music away for free?
- Thinking freely: New business models for the digital economy
- “Sharing Is Not Stealing” – Cost, Value And The Desire To Share
- The Problem With Music
We release just about everything we do as Pay What You Can. We make music, you pay us whatever you think it’s worth. The minimum price for downloads is a big fat zero. The minimum price for physical (CD’s etc) is cost of manufacture + post and packing. If you come to see us at a gig we’ll sell you a CD for whatever you want to pay.
Why do we do this?
We believe that the old fashioned record industry model is on it’s last legs. We believe that it’s better to sell direct to fans than via shops. We believe that we now exist in an environment where recorded music is essentially available for free and that environment is totally created by the laziness of the record industry and why fight that? If you want our music you are more than welcome to it. Please… take it, play it, give it to your friends. If you feel that the music we make has value to you then feel free to give us some money. If you do give us some money then you can do so safe in the knowledge that all that money goes to us. It does not go to Apple ot HMV or Sony or some other massive corporation to whom your pounds are such a tiny fraction of their turnover but it all goes to us where it directly allows us to buy the petrol for the next gig or get the next cd pressed or even buy some food or something!
Believe us, we appreciate whatever people give us greatly and we are constantly amazed at how generous people are. In 2009 we made more money giving music away in a year than we have ever made in any of the 10 years previous of selling recorded music for fixed prices in shops, paying for PR and advertising etc… While we are still a league away from making a living wage from this we do believe that is the future for us and for many other bands.
If there’s one thing we would say it’s this. If you love a band find a way to give them money or help or just applause. They will need it and they will appreciate it.