The internet is one of the greatest inventions that humanity has ever come up with. It connects people across borders and enabled the exchange of information like nothing ever before. It unleashed an enormous potential for people to learn, express, create and collaborate. Bringing the people of the world together, it truly could be the great equalizer, yet in that regard, the current business model of the internet is broken.
All of us internet users have become used to consume as much content as we want, whenever we want, at practically no cost. We consider content on the internet to be free mostly. However, slowly but surely it dawns on more and more people of the internet community, that when seemingly everything is for free it means that it is us who are the products in this equation.
Over the years, a few humongous companies have evolved and shaped the way of how the internet works and when boiled down, all of them share the same business model: advertisement to make us buy things.
The Internet of Today Runs on Ads
The Emergence of Subscription Models
Over the past couple of years a new opportunity to monetize content has emerged, for the first time offering a viable alternative to dependency on advertisement — subscription models.
With Spotify for music and Netflix for movies and series, the world witnessed those two industries being completely disrupted to its core within just a few years. Streaming music and movies with a monthly subscription fee is the de facto standard today. Good bye MP3 music and DVD or Blu-ray movie collections.
While offering great comfort and an ad-free experience, on a wide-spread basis this model comes with its own limitations. Firstly, most people simply cannot subscribe to an infinite number of services. Even if each on its own is very affordable, they are adding up and can become a substantial cost position each month. Secondly, not every type of content is consumed frequently enough to justify a monthly subscription and very often people simply change their habits.
This is a particular problem for small and independent content creators. A monthly $10 subscription to Spotify seems reasonable, as I am listening to music almost every day. But I might only read one article on a blog that I just found by chance, so signing up to a subscription for its exclusive content through Patreon makes no sense. This then again leaves the creator being completely dependent on ads to be able to monetize his content.
There must be a better way.