Techdirt: Scarcity Isn’t As Scarce As You Might Think

Wow. Pop passed along a link to this excellent piece at Techdirt.

Rather than worry about who’s copying what where, the Viacoms and RIAAs of the world need to re-evaluate their position on what, exactly, they are selling. In this article, the author argues that the non-scarce goods (songs, videos in digital format for example) aren’t the things that can make money. Rather, the scarce, “tangible” goods associated with this non-scarce commodity are where it’s at.

a tangible good, like a BMW, has non-scarce components like reputation, a non-scarce good, like a song, has a scarce component: how much attention is being paid to that song. Related to this is time. Time and attention are closely related, but aren’t exactly the same thing. However, anyone’s time is quite limited — meaning that it’s scarce. There are many, many other scarce things that relate to non-scarce goods as well, including money itself, access to individuals or places, the initial creation of those non-scarce goods and many others. Any and all of these can become quite important in setting up a business model that embraces non-scarcity.


As I have a modest project recording studio – and band – of my own, I found this passage particularly interesting:

I love the example of The String Cheese Incident, a band that recognizes “The more people are exposed to the music, the better it is for the band.” The music (the non-scarce good) helps them sell a lot more tickets to concerts (a scarce good). However, that band took it a step further. They set up their own travel agency to help fans attend their concerts — and have been making money there, by saving people time (scarce good!) and helping them secure flights (scarce good) and lodging (scarce good), all in the pursuit of access to the band (scarce good) who they value so much because of the music (non-scarce good).

Very good article, check it out!


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Source: Techdirt: Scarcity Isn’t As Scarce As You Might Think

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