For some time I have intended to write a post on the economics of media now that the cost of manufacturing it has gone to nothing. Today I discovered that Chris Anderson, editor of Wired and author of The Long Tail" has written a book on the subject called "Free: The Future of a Radical Price", available in July. I will write a post after reading the book, here is an outline of what I expect it to say.
Firstly, as the TechCrunch post says, "As products go digital, their marginal cost goes to zero." It is now economic to give the product away, and make it up on volume. Closely related is the network effect, the more widespread that some piece of media is, the more "valuable" that it becomes. Barriers to media becoming widespread reduce the likelihood that it is seen or heard. Cost is definitely a barrier.
Moreover, putting a price on your media item creates the opportunity for others to price for free and undercut you. A good example is craigslist. It may not be quite what you think of as media, but craigslist is in the process of decimating the newspaper industry by destroying their market for classified advertisements. Craigslist makes their money by selling access to narrow niche markets, so it seems to fit in perfectly with Anderson's thesis.
In the past I have written about the future of music and how musicians are moving to make their money from performance rather than from record sales. As goes music, so goes all media. My sister is currently writing a book. This last week she told me that she expects to make her living from touring to lecture on the books contents rather than from book sales.