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Counter. photo by Craig Allen

by • 5 Jan, 2011 • Thoughts about museumsComments (4)4453

Are people willing to pay for art and culture online?

Online is often associated with free. Music, movies, images, almost all information has become free (only maybe not legally.) Spotify, a discussion on Erwin Blom’s blog about successful subscription models and a post about business models that rocked 2010 made me wonder: Are people willing to pay for art and culture online? (And, given that they are, under what conditions?)

Looking at the ten successful business models in the Slideshare above, I see three common characteristics:

  1. People pay if it makes them part of something larger, e.g. Quirky*
  2. People pay to have an advantage over others (who pay less/nothing), e.g. In-App sales
  3. People pay for services that make products (look) cheaper, e.g. Airbnb.com

This sort of summarizes my motivations to pay for Spotify:

  1. It feels good to be on Spotify, especially now that I can share playlists etc. on Facebook. If Spotify sent me stickers, I’d put them on stuff to show off my membership.
  2. The free Spotify is OK, but my number one reason to pay for premium is so I can put the music on my mobile and stream music on the train. Big advantage!
  3. Only 10 euros a month for all the music in the world (minus Arcade Fire). That’s just as much as one record from the iStore every month.

I have to admit, though, I never thought that much about why I pay for Spotify. I just do. Although we associate online with free, many of us (and especially the older generations) are OK with paying for stuff that is valuable for us. If we can make art and culture valuable for people online (using the strengths and opportunities of the medium) people will be willing to pay for that service.

One service I think about is desktop wallpaper calendars of HD artworks. Don’t know how big the scene is, but considering the number of comments on Smashing Magazine’s monthly overview, there must be some people willing to pay for it. For 9.99 a year unlimited access to wallpapers (also for iPad and iPhone) with a fresh selection every month. Museums work together to provide enough choice.

Are you willing to pay for art and culture online? What are your conditions?

* The Louvre has successfully used this to buy The Three Graces.

Header photo by Craig Allen on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND)

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