When we noticed that we probably would need to include a digital version of our publication, we searched high and low for companies that would allows us to make apps, to make it available on a desktop, and to maybe make it interactive, all while staying within a budget we had set in our minds. We found a couple of good options, and even tested several of them and were quite happy with the outcome – but most had a monthly plan attached or they would take fees away every month, depending on the amount of downloads. We really just weren’t sure which the best option would be, both for our readers and for giving back to our artists.
But then, kind of by chance, we stumbled upon some people who were successful in using a “Pay What You Can” model. Really, we had only heard of this model being used in certain art circles or museums, and didn’t realize that some people – and even some companies! – use it as their main business model.
What appealed to us about this model of doing business, is that it kind of took the focus away from making a profit and put the trust in the customers. We were already in this mindset – we definitely want to make a profit, but the reason and the driving force behind our project is not to get rich, but rather to inspire others and share any profits with our contributing artists, in an attempt to change the way artists are paid fairly. This model just took it a step further!
We also just liked the idea that the power wouldn’t just be in the readers hands, but that it would allow each person to tell us what they feel the publication is worth, and pay depending on their means. That second part was really important to us, as it is slightly different than “Pay What You Want”, which just asks the customer to give the item a value. When you pay what you can, it’s understood that you can pay less if it’s not in your means at the moment – even if you really value the work – you are after all still helping spread the word! On the other hand, if you value the work, but it is in your means to pay a bit more, not only are you helping us and the artists involved, but you’re actually helping your fellow reader, who can’t pay as much at that moment. So it’s not all about this idea of setting a value, but it is indeed about helping others in some way.
And of course, it also allows us to be more inclusive: to share the artist’s stories to a wider audience and to inspire more people. That in combination with going digital just seemed to fit together and it seemed like the right step to take on this new venture!
So, you may be wondering why we have a suggested price and a minimum price? To answer this simply, it’s really because when we did our survey we asked many people the amount that they would pay for a digital publication and the average price was in the range of 12$ (our suggested price) – some people said they would pay more, some said they would pay less. And that makes sense, especially considering most e-books on the AppStore and GooglePlay store are around this price, which is typically a bit cheaper than the physical copy. We reduced our overhead costs significantly by going digital, but of course they aren’t all gone – we still have to pay for our web-hosting, some plugin-licenses that allow us to have an e-commerce store and the ability to use a Pay What You Can model, hosting the file for download, and some small expenses related to promotional materials.
But most important of all, we share our profits with the artists! Many of these artists struggle on a daily basis to get paid fairly and be taken seriously. It’s becoming a growing issue in this world where people expect everything for free (e.g. with music) or artists aren’t taken seriously, because they “enjoy what they do”. Some companies have been very progressive in figuring out ways to pay artists fairly, and change the way business is done through out the world (e.g. again with music, by streaming from reliable sources the artists get paid royalties). This is all great news! It’s great that we’re going through a change! But, if we’re going to be part of this change, when it comes to publishing, we also felt like at this time we had to set a minimum amount. Many companies offer their services for free, but then users watch or listen to ads every once in a while – this is how they can manage to give the service for free, while still paying the artists. As the user, if you want to avoid these ads, you typically pay a small monthly fee. And that’s kind of what our minimum amount can be compared to, since we are ad-free! It’s the amount that we need to cover our basic costs and still give back to the artists, especially since a lower amount opens it up to more people who may just want to test it out first.
We hope you’re as excited as we are to have our digital editions available now, and that we started using a Pay What You Can model.
We just wanted to thank all of you again for your continued support, not only do we appreciate it, but our involved artists do as well!
Thank you, and we’ll leave you with some interesting links and things we’ve read lately:
– Pay What You Want + Pay What You Can – Wiki Page
– A list of some companies that use PWYW pricing, and what they do to make it work.
– Donationware, Adblock being an example of such.
– While 2014 may be the first year, where we won’t have a platinum album, the music industry is changing and can actually work to contribute back to artists. Buying directly from artists puts more back in their pocket, instead of the record labels; check out some numbers here. (This is a good example of what we’re doing, as we decided not to go with certain apps and services, but instead are selling directly through our shop.)
– More on record labels and how some artists go around them.
– a quick read on Iggy Pop, who actually can’t live off his music anymore; even more reason that the market needs to change.
– an article that made it’s way around, but still holds valid points on not doing work for free; the comments are an interesting read as well.