The Technium

People Want To Pay

[Translations: Dutch, Japanese]

Yes, everything will be free, but in my experience people want to pay. They really do! People, mobs of them, will grab stuff that is free. They will try stuff for free that they would never touch if they had to pay. They will always gravitate, on average, to the lowest price, and what is lower than free?


But, but, if people have resources they prefer to pay the creators of products and services they like. Payment is

1) A way of connecting.

2) A sign of approval.

3) A vote.

4) It indicates an allegiance with the maker.

5) It feels good to the payer, to support.

People buy stuff, but what we all crave are relationships. Payment is an elemental type of relationship. Very primitive, but real.

There are some caveats in this urge to pay.

Paying has to be super easy, idiot-proof and frictionless. There can’t be hurdles. The easier it is to pay, the more eager people are to pay.

The price has to be reasonable. That means it has to be reasonable in relation to similar stuff that is free!

The benefits of paying have to be evident and transparent.  This takes creativity to produce and work to convey simply. Unless the benefits of paying are obvious, paying is made difficult. For some suggestions of benefits over the free, see my Better Than Free post.

Is there any evidence for wanting to pay? I recently came across a UK survey, sponsored by British Music Rights (that means they represent musicians and music publishers) which suggest fans want to pay. According to this study what the respondents appear to want is an unlimited download service free of DRM that could be legally accessed for a monthly fee– a way to pay that doesn’t yet exist.

They are happy to pay if it is easy, fair, and beneficial.


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