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Dave Winer has a new piece online that raises some interesting questions, unfortunately some of its assumptions are fundamentally wrong:

[..] isn't [it] weird that our economy is based on software, more and more, yet users don't want to pay for software

True: the economy is based more and more on software. But it is also true that users, corporations, governments don't have a problem paying for software, as long as they get value for their money. From my everyday observations of our software customers, the real issue is the unwillingness to pay for services, training and support. A lot of people want to buy a "flux compensator" out of the box for $149.99 but expect it to be self-explaining, self-contained and usable by a 3 year old in 5 minutes. Once you explain them that e.g. the content management system they just bought needs a day of installation and configuration, a couple of days of training for their users and ongoing maintenance, they look at you as if you want to sell them the Brooklyn Bridge.

In the same breath I express sympathy for the music industry, because they're going through the same devaluation we went through in software in the 80s and 90s. [..] Today songs travel freely over the Internet, some people are optimistic about people paying

The comparisons between software and music industry have been made before but are only marginally valid. While at the source level both music and software might be considered art, they meet different demands of the market and therefor are subject to different sets of market rules. We buy software to help us do a job better, easier, faster, to facilitate life's daily chores. We buy music because it is (like all other arts) a necessity to fill our need for beauty and emotions.
The problems of the music industry are quite different. First of all a huge part of the "problems" are fabrications by themselves. The declining number of sales have been debated to death in the media, they never acknowledged the unprecedented increase in sales after the introduction of the CD. So over the last couple of years the market simply started to even out. Presenting numbers of revenue loss through filesharing are also not based on fact, since it has never been proven that all those copied albums would otherwise be bought. And finally, the increasing alienation by the record industry, patronizing their customers as if they were criminal children, creating non-standard compliant media to annoy well meaning customers and not understanding the market shift towards the web. Let's see if they heard Apple's starter gun.

So my short answer to the initial question: I have paid for software and i have paid for music and I will continue to do so, as long as the producers and vendors treat me like a valued customer.


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