When we came up for the playlist for the Quitter Conference, there was one song I had to make sure was on it. Can you guess what it is?
I know what you’re thinking, “Open the Gates and Seize the Day,” from the Newsies soundtrack. Nope, wasn’t that one, although that song is awesome. It wasn’t Eye of the Tiger either. I’ll give you a clue, the artist’s name starts with “E” and ends with “l Debarge.”
That’s right, I added “Rhythm of the Night” to the playlist. Why? Because it’s impossible to be sad while listening to that song and we couldn’t find a copy of New Edition’s “Cool it Now” on the computer we had.
Am I a musical genius? I guess you could say that. That’s probably fair, given my skillz on the ones and twos. I love to listen to it, talk with friends about it and pretend I could make it if I really wanted to.
That’s why folks call me when they find out about new bands and I got one of those calls a few weeks ago.
Here’s how the conversation we had:
“This guy just came out with a new album and he posted it online for free.”
“Really? The whole thing? 10 songs for free?”
“No, only 5.”
“Aww man, that stinks.”
Do you see what just happened there? Some musician worked as hard as he could to craft five songs. He sweat and poured himself into five songs that captured his life and hopes and dreams musically. Then he gave them away for FREE. And my first response upon hearing he gave away 5 free songs was to essentially say,
“Quit being so greedy! I deserve 10 songs for free! Not just 5!”
And there lies the great danger of free content.
It’s making us incredibly ungrateful.
You would think it was the other way around. You would think that receiving something free would make you more grateful. That you’d hold it in your hands or listen to it in your ears and think, “I can’t believe I got this for free! I didn’t pay for it, someone gave it to me as a gift. I am so grateful!”
But that’s not how it works, is it?
And not just with free music online.
The other day, I had to click through an ad on a blog to get to the content, and I thought to myself, “What a hassle! I’m so mad at this blog!” Clicking on the little close button took me approximately 0.2 seconds. They were giving me literally millions of words in free content and I was mad about the ad.
My friend put together an amazing conference in Chicago once. She decided that she would stream the whole thing online for free. During lunch, there was no content streaming because people who were attending the conference were eating lunch and therefore no one was presenting on the stage. Some guy online tore into her for not having content programmed during that hour too. How dare she!
My own kids fall into this trap with “treats” after dinner. After a few weeks of cookies at the end of each meal, they start to demand them. There have been times when we’ve gone to put them in bed and they’ve said, “Whoa, we haven’t had our treat yet!”
And, you know who are the most demanding freelance clients? The friends you do free work for. The buddy you offer to build a website for will become your worst behaving client. The friend you offer to take free photos for will become Bridezilla.
I love the idea of free content. I’ve written over a million words of free content on this site. And I talk a lot about how you can know when it’s time to charge for what you do in my book Quitter. I am pro free! I am.
But be careful that your enjoyment of free content doesn’t mutate into a sense of entitlement.
What’s the last free thing you got?