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FUTURE MODEL FOR INDIE WEBSITES;
This essay suggests a way that websites can shift away from ads, advertisers, and sponsors; and make their profits through CONTENT, without any ads, advertisers, or sponsors. That would allow every independent website to compete equally with every other website on quality and content alone. First the problem now:
Right now the internet is drifting towards more ads. In more and more places before you can access a web page, a song, or a video; you come across a corporate gatekeeper. There's a pop up, or a video ad you have to sit through before you can access what you want. Sites with these type of ads seem to be making some profits. Other sites that charge a subscription to access everything on their website, are not doing so well - people don't like them much. And those sites that are free, are not making anything though they are getting some good exposure for their work.
What's needed is a way for any site to charge and bill people who access their site with a very very very small fee. This would be like paying a royalty for the information you want, or like a coin dropped into a net 'jukebox', or like the 50 cents you pay for a daily paper, or like a one time fee to access a book or film. But for this to work, the price charged would have to be much much smaller than it is on most pay sites now. I would suggest a penny or even a part of a penny at the low end of the price range.
What's needed first is a technical innovation. Specifically some company that has the technical ability to set up a net credit card type billing system to charge site visitors royalties - pennies, when they click on member sites, or 'pay' pages on member's sites. Perhaps a sort of co-op online credit card would be the answer.
When you as a customer sign up, you can access information, music, art, books, films, etc. from all the member sites of the co-op, for a small fee per click - maybe 1 penny for a page of photos, one nickel to peruse a website, one quarter for a song download, ten cents for an hour radio show, or even one dollar for a full movie or book. Then when your bill exceeds a minimum of ten dollars or more, you would get a monthly bill mailed or e-mailed to you.
What happens to the money collected? First a small amount or processing fee goes to the billing company. Then the rest would go to the website that you clicked on, and supported with your pennies. Sure sometimes some companies would over charge or try to cheat you in some way - but they could be dealt with in the same way that a false charge happens on your phone bill or your credit card.
This billing system would allow anyone to set up a website at a low cost, charge the fee they wanted for access to their 'content', and make some 'royalties' for all their hard work.
This would not in anyway stop anyone with a website from doing things as they are now - you could still have free content if you wished, you could still stick to ads, or you could still charge subscriptions to access your site. Or you could mix it up, and have most of your site free, with only some parts that charge for viewing.
But most importantly it would allow for many independents to make some money for all their hard work. And it would reward gifted artists with some solid returns. And finally it would allow for the option to have professional internet businesses without advertising, and corporate gate keepers getting in the way.
Then you, the web surfer, can access the great art and information you want, while supporting those that supply it with a small and fair compensation.
Sign me up!
Musea E-mail Club #547
(editor of the 19 year old zine Musea)
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