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in Filmmaking
on May 25, 2008

If you’re an indie film pontificator who likes to talk about Radiohead’s and NIN’s innovative free pricing models, then you should check out the weekly podcast Econ Talk, which spent an hour with Wired’s Chris Anderson, whose next book is all about the trend towards no-cost goods and services. (This topic was explored by Anderson in a recent Wired cover story. I subscribe to Wired, not because I read it that much, but because it’s only $8, and I get enough out of it to justify that cost. But I didn’t read Anderson’s piece in Wired, although I did listen to the podcast, which is free, and which I’m recommending to you. There’s an economic lesson in there somewhere, but, hey, it’s a holiday, so I’ll refrain from figuring it out.)

Anderson and Econ Talk’s Russ Roberts talk about the economics of free, and while they don’t deal explicitly with film, we’d all do well to start thinking about the implications of their conversation. I’m paraphrasing here, but one of Anderson’s dictums is that any business that can go digital will go digital, and that digital businesses want to get to free pricing. He and Roberts also discuss economies other than monetary ones functioning in the digital space — gift economies, charity, etc. — and, at the end, Anderson talks about his own business model in a way that a lot of filmmakers could relate to. Again, I’m paraphrasing, but Anderson says, “My business is not publishing, my business is ‘me,'” explaining why it’s in his interest to make as many free copies of his next book available as possible.

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