Peter Hentges (jbru) wrote,
Peter Hentges

Oh, the bafflement

So on the one hand, we have groups representing music artists demanding from places like Apple and Amazon that they get "performance income" from the 30-second previews of tracks that you can get from things like the iTunes Music Store. (Article in cnet.)

On the other hand, we have Amazon demanding that anyone that gets data from Amazon about products that they sell have the primary page displaying that data link to Amazon alone. Links to other things, like local book stores or libraries, are not allowed. This is hitting people like the folks at LibraryThing particularly hard.

So Amazon provides previews of the MP3 files they'll sell you. One assumes this is because they figure they'll sell more MP3s if they let you hear them first.

Then another part of Amazon issues a policy saying that if you get information from Amazon, you can't link to anyone but Amazon. Apparently feeling that giving people information for free will make them less likely to buy the product from Amazon.

And it seems to me that I'm hearing more of this sort of disconnection. People are missing the point of giving away free samples. Yes, you'll have a certain percentage of free-loaders that won't buy anything. Guess what? If you make them pay for it, they won't buy it anyway. So you're losing nothing by giving it away. Another thing? Some percentage of people will buy what you're selling no matter what you do. Stopping the distribution of free things won't affect them either.

So who gets affected by these plans to hoard things and only give them away for money? The people who might serendipitously discover your product because you gave away something for free. You might not make anything from them today. You might not make anything from them tomorrow. But eventually, you'll turn some of them into customers. Further, they will be customers that are highly interested in what you have to offer. They are the ones most likely to tell their friends about your product, or to buy extra copies to give as gifts.

In other words, you're preventing yourself from getting the best customers you could ever have. Nice work.

(Oh and the other set of people affected? They're the ones that think you're being a dick about this penny-ante bullshit. If they were your customers before, they won't be anymore. They'll also tell all their friends about what a dick you are and how the place down the street provides the same product for the same price at the same level of service as you do. And how, down the street, they aren't dicks.)

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