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Give It Away Now

Phil Harvey
3/27/2008

10:50 PM -- I was just listening to a repeat of Howard Stern's radio show from Thursday and heard an interesting interview with Counting Crows lead singer Adam Duritz. "The Internet is not a cash register, it's a billboard," he said. "It's a bunch of machines that connect the whole world. There's no way you can tell me there's something wrong with that."

That's partly what's wrong with the music business -- and other content-related businesses that view the Internet as a threat. They're simply using it the wrong way, seeing the promotion and brand extension it allows as theft.

Giving content away may really be the only way to make money and stand out when bandwidth becomes a commodity -- the stuff of silly contests, even -- and digital rights management has the unintended effect of discouraging consumers.

Giving content away may also be the thing that gets traditional mobile TV off the starting blocks, especially if no one's going to make the effort to create a uniquely mobile experience.

Duritz is right. The Internet is a valuable tool for most businesses. But it's not always a cash register.

And creating something in digital form isn't the end of a process, it's just the beginning. Hopefully your work becomes part of someone else's fun. That's not theft. It's advertising.

— Phil Harvey, Editor, Light Reading

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