The Future of Free? – Chris Anderson

Long Tail author and Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson writes about a visit to China to discuss the possibility of finding a new business model based on the distribution of free music (that is, piracy):

China represents rock bottom for the music industry, especially on the economics of the creative side. The CD business has evaporated, and the businesses that have risen in its wake don’t help artists. Yet China Mobile and Baidu are making something like $2 billion a year indirectly from music, so there’s clearly a business in there somewhere. It just doesn’t extend to many musicians at the moment. [Full text]

Commenting on a recent New York Times story, Anderson also notes that touring in China isn’t necessarily a big money-maker for all Western musicians. To get an idea of how the music industry operates in China, Anderson recommends Bejing-based music promotor Ed Peto’s survey of the Chinese music industry.

Anderson’s next book is about the potential for offering products for free, so check out the comment on his post in which a reader says that English-study websites in China have been distributing pirated copies of his previous book.

P.S.: Although Chris Anderson didn’t use his iPhone while traveling, it kept checking e-mail automatically, racking up roaming international data charges to the tune of $2,100. Dan Butterfield at PhoneMag speculates at length on how and when the iPhone will make its official debut in China (via MY iTablet).

[Image of singer in Guangzhou via The Long Tail via Chris Anderson’s iPhone]


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