As it happens, today I listened to a few weeks old episode of the GIllmor Gang, the one from August 22. In it, they talk about Pandora and tip jars and micropayments, the same sort of things I was discussing yesterday. Despite Doc Searls talking up his VRM stuff and my enormous respect for him, I think that’s the wrong path and Cory Doctorow is on the right path. It doesn’t matter how frictionless you make the money pipe, the selection energy it requires you to think about how much to tip makes it unworkable. I get pissed off having to decide whether to give a wait person 15% or 18% or 23% most times I’m in a restaurant. I don’t want to have to decide whether to give a musician $0.03 a play or $0.05 or whatever. Just the thinking about it is too much trouble.
The quip that occurred to me listening to them talk about it is “think less about the tip jar and more about the tipping point.” Consider 100 fans who might tip $1 apiece. I think you’d be better off if you could convert 2 of them into the Kevin Kelly style “1000 true fan” types who will give you $50 this year, and each year until they stop being a true fan. You make the same $100 that way, but you’ve got an annuity and evangelists and a deeper relationship with the people who do kick you dough.
The more I think on this subject, I think “go big or go home” is the way to go.