Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Zuckerberg Explains How Information Wants to Be Free: What implications for Twitter? | MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

It took an extraordinarily long time for Facebook to acknowledge it needed licenses for the massive amounts of music that it encourages be posted to its profit.  In case you were wondering why, a recent interview with the quotable Mark Zuckerberg gives some insight in a recent interview with Vox (which came through despite the “How do you deal with your awesomeness” level of questions).  This quote is in response to Apple CEO’s crticism of Facebook selling users to advertisers instead of selling a product to users:

The reality here is that if you want to build a service that helps connect everyone in the world, then there are a lot of people who can’t afford to pay. And therefore, as with a lot of media, having an advertising-supported model is the only rational model that can support building this service to reach people.

That doesn’t mean that we’re not primarily focused on serving people. I think probably to the dissatisfaction of our sales team here, I make all of our decisions based on what’s going to matter to our community and focus much less on the advertising side of the business.

But if you want to build a service which is not just serving rich people, then you need to have something that people can afford.

Isn’t that an interesting quote?  You could see that this rich/poor dichotomy is why people like Zuckerberg, Kim Dot Com and Daniel Ek are so attached to the Web 2.0 ad-supported model and have to be dragged to a subscription model.  Because if you expect to be paid for your work, then you’re “just serving rich people”.

He goes on:

I thought Jeff Bezos had an excellent saying on this in one of his Kindle launches a number of years back. He said, “There are companies that work hard to charge you more, and there are companies that work hard to charge you less.” And at Facebook, we are squarely in the camp of the companies that work hard to charge you less and provide a free service that everyone can use.

I don’t think at all that that means that we don’t care about people. To the contrary, I think it’s important that we don’t all get Stockholm syndrome and let the companies that work hard to charge you more convince you that they actually care more about you. Because that sounds ridiculous to me.

Ah yes, because Sheryl Sandberg’s stalker model for Facebook’s advertising business coupled with data profiling and massive infringement demonstrates just how much Facebook cares about you.  Not to mention the consciously addictive properties that Sandberg’s business model depends on for its success.

But like any good dealer, Zuckerberg wants you to believe that he does it because he cares about you.  Of course he does.  You made him rich.  And since Zuckerberg seems to like Bezos so much, let’s not forget another Bezos homily:  Your margin is my opportunity.

You can see that the entire concept of a royalty-based system–as opposed to a paltry share-of-revenue system that starts paying 3 decimal places to the right–is never going to fly with these people absent some serious leverage.  Why?  Because information wants to be free–to them.

It should also be clear why they all have a great tendency to drive prices for music, movies or other works down to zero, if not less than zero.  Perhaps even talk amongst themselves about it.

Now that Facebook is paying something (although not nearly enough), you would naturally think of Twitter as the next in line for the “information wants to be free for me” crowd.   There are some obvious buckets that Twitter should either be helping with or outright paying for.  I’m sure they aren’t getting streaming rights to Major League Baseball for free.  And just because you expect to be paid for your work hardly means that you only want “rich people” as your fans.




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