The artist formerly and once again known as Prince as been pretty generous to his fans. When he played the O2 in London he made sure the ticket prices were kept relatively low.
He gave away two of his albums via free downloads.
Recently he decided to charge for something he created: the eight-minute video download of his new song, Screwdriver. For the princely sum of $1.77.
On the Spin music website, the headline was "Prince Demands $1.77 to Watch 'Screwdriver' Video."
Demands? Is it me or is does that connote unhappiness with the charge? They also warn, "You will never get that $1.77 back, so decide wisely." Do they give that kind of warning when somebody is about to spend that amount on a cup of coffee at Starbucks? Or half a pint of beer at the pub?
NME reports "Prince has upset fans by charging them to see his new video."
The Independent writes: "Outraged fans took to railing on Twitter: 'Way to alienate your core audience Mr. Purple Badness,” said one. “Tight arse – I’m sure he doesn’t need the money,” said another.
The Independent goes on to inject a note of sanity: "But what difference does it make whether Prince is a million-selling recording artist or a struggling up-and-coming singer-songwriter? Every musician is entitled to be paid for their musical output – or is this something that we’ve forgotten in a world of YouTube and Spotify?"
I think Prince has unwittingly trained at least some his fans to expect everything for free.
Now, what does this have to do with "doing something different" with your writing project?
We authors are being advised by the top internet marketing gurus: give things away to draw people to your site. Give them really good material for free. They'll think, 'If material this good is free, the things they charge for must be phenomenal, I'll order some of those things right away!"
Is that what they think? Or do they think, "I don't have to pay for good stuff, it's free. The heck with paying for anything, I'll see what else this person offers for free to keep me on their mailing list. I'll look around the web for other free stuff, hee hee!"
Of course those are the people who don't just find a pirated version. When I looked up Prince's new song the first half dozen or so Google results were for illegal sharing sites.
In today's world of free, doing something different is charging a price that reflects the amount of effort and expertise that went into what you have created.
Can this work? Would people think, "If they're charging for this, it must be worth more than what I get for free"? Or would we be left lonely in our little paid space with everybody rushing past us for the free stuff?
(Another thing that seems to work is to offer people a "free gift"...as opposed to a gift you pay for, I guess...)
(Take a stand for charging for things by paying for my books: "Your Writing Coach," and "Your Creative Writing Masterclass," both published by Nichoals Brealey and available, at a very reasonable price, from Amazon or your other favorite book seller.)