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Top 10 Things People Don’t Pay For Anymore
The internet is just another circle of life. With it has come the life and death of many an industry, and plenty of joy and suffering in between. While the casual user sees nothing but vibrant green grass and limitless potential, the Stone-Age dwellers and businesses of yesteryear curse it’s very existence on a daily basis. It both alleviates and requires work, depending on who is kneeling before it, and with so many under its dominion, there’s no use in defiance. The key word that applies so often to the internet is “free.” How can money be made on free goods? That’s for the smoke-stacks to figure out (though advertising is really the numero uno), but otherwise, for those who don’t have a habit of looking a gift horse in the mouth, here are the top ten things people don’t pay for anymore.
“Yes operator, put me through to Tokyo. Yes, I’ll accept the charges.” These words are seldom spoken anymore in the age of the internet; communication is very much a free activity with such social utilities as AIM, Facebook, email (although it’s been around for ages), and most notably Skype. Skype allows users to call each other for free through the service (which is free to sign up for) and even allows video calling a la every movie set in the not-too-distant future. Hell, even CNN uses Skype to talk to on-location journalists embedded in areas of turmoil. That and their frequent uses of cell phone camera-captured footage begs the question, what’s up with all the cost-cutting maneuvers.
Hackers and gamers have been largely one-in-the-same since the first Doom came out. It’s a matter of being so in cahoots with a cyber-world that it eventually starts whispering its forbidden secrets. Accordingly, games have found their way to being pirated just as movies before them (only more “cut and paste” and disc-burning and less “bring a video camera into a movie theater” goes into software piracy). Sharing websites such as Napster and Kazaa, before the ever-effective torrents we have today, leaked all sorts of video games people just didn’t want to pay for. To adapt, smart industries like Sony blacked out the bottom of their Playstation discs; and this is precisely why the Dreamcast no longer exists and Sega hangs on by a thread.
Sure boot-legging allowed movies to be viewed sans an admission ticket, in “shake-o-vision” more often than not, but DVD ripping is really what’s hurting the industry (namely big renters like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video who’ve largely crumbled in physical storefront form). The theater experience is still enough of a draw for outrageous ticket prices however, and the implementation of 3D gives viewers an even bigger incentive to shell it out.
Hardly legal 3rd-party streaming sites (usually via Megavideo) make virtually any television show episode viewable and commercial-free (that is without needing to pay the cable bill or subscribe to HBO or Showtime). Accordingly, television shows which rely on such pesky nuisances to pay their overhead can’t afford to court television shows that don’t pull in viable ratings. They’ve been forced, like most every other industry, to adapt to the internet and find ways to keep the dollars they lose to impatient viewers. Steaming websites like Hulu do the industry a solid by inserting commercials into the videos they stream, while still clipping off the price tag. Cable providers, themselves, even allow cable subscribers to watch programming online, another incentive to carry the service in-home. Nonetheless, there’s always a way around every friendly anti-theft measure.
No longer do naughty boys keep a stack of dirty magazines in their sock drawer, and no more do responsible adults input their credit card info in to subscribe to niche novelty sites to satisfy their need to self-please. Full length, albeit budget-less (though sometimes plot-driven), adult films are widely available for free, and are one Google search away from access. Better than anyone, they’ve adapted to the ad-orientation (being a friend of all orientations) of the internet’s green side. And being a rampant commodity, there’s no shortage of impulsive clicking on each of the 18,000 ads that show up in any given site. That’s not to mention the ol’ industry-favorite pop-up ad.
Finding a date can be as easy as looking up a hot name on Facebook. Going on a date can be as easy as watching T.V. Effort and chivalrous convention don’t apply to the present young generation. Men don’t pay for dates as part of a mandatory social rule, as the term Double-Dutch frequently applies, and going out to a restaurant or movie is best enjoyed as an established couple, anyway (then the guy might decide to pay as a sign of affection, or at least of having just gotten paid that week). After all, if you like someone, and want to get to know them, who needs the white table cloths and fancy attire to do so. Better to chat to the tune of agreed upon background music, or flip through each others’ record collections to find out about that person (at least as far as music relates to their personality).
Remember when online encyclopedias like Encarta.com allowed you to look up anything you could in a multi-volume set (plus video and soundbites!), at least up to the second paragraph before it demanded you pay a monthly subscription fee. More often than not you merely learned two facts about something at a time then walked away. Now that is a thing of the past, along with glancing at actual encyclopedias, as Wikipedia, which covers virtually everything with a holistic entry and is constantly expanding, is the new household reference book. While it isn’t any good for scholarly research, though it often requires every fact be cited and attributed to a source, it is unrivaled as a source of instant enlightenment.
Bands almost exclusively network through Myspace, a free place to post tour schedules, stream their songs and connect to their fans, a thousand at a time. It’s the most economic, and effective, means for both up-and-comers and established acts to draw new fans and maintain their core. The other expendable bastion of cyber-presence construction is Facebook. Fan pages, beyond individual profiles, have taken the place of actual website operation as businesses are always looking for ways to cut costs. And what better way to connect to your clientele than to swim in the same water-body almost everyone on Earth does.
Another industry in agony is the newspaper industry. The internet has taken a huge toll, kicking them while cable news already had them down in the first place. What internet-savvy consumer would pay to read what can be read, on a more timely basis, for free? Adaptation has been tough for a lot of the rags, partly because it’s run by complacent old men, who’d rather keep their leather chairs than type their columns in a Starbucks. When will they learn?
A huge devastation on behalf of the internet – more than most every other industry – has befallen the music industry, where digital music has rendered the purchasing of physical CDs obsolete (except to dedicated album art enthusiasts). Music piracy has existed for over a decade, and through torrents it is a virtually invisible crime, but being as how easy it is to “steal” digital music, who in their right minds would pay a dollar per song for the same lousy song file. Truth be told, the only music format experiencing any growth in recent times (while still not the most common means of experiencing music) is vinyl, which, by nature, is actually deserving of the money (the what, two dollars per album at your local record store?). Where the industry, and subsequently every beleaguered band, is really making up for blows and lost profits is the concert industry, which trumps any other way to absorb music, bar none. Not to mention the humility that comes with such a mandate.