These days, people expect to get things for free.
They expect to things for free because they should be getting them for free.
I'm not talking about hard goods like cars and clothing, but rather information. Mp3s, video files, newspaper articles: all of these things are nothing more than information that are processed in different ways by the end user. It costs nothing to reproduce them.
However, it costs something to initially produce them. Musicians need to buy instruments and recording equipment, and they spend long hours writing and crafting their songs.
The recent public support for the four founders of The Pirate Bay shows that people aren't going to give up their ability to get free content that easily (swelling membership in Sweden's Pirate Party supports this as well). As Mike Masnick has demonstrated time and time again on Techdirt, this kind of model is also capable of supporting musicians (but maybe not the record labels).
Jeremy Wright also spoke about this at the recent Third Tuesday Toronto event. When commenting on the future of advertising, he mentioned that there will probably be more examples of "great content, great conversation" brought to you by a corporate sponsor, rather than "sponsored" posts written by that sponsor. (I'm writing this from memory, so please correct me if I'm wrong about what he said or what he meant).
In the same way that corporation's might have the opportunity to sponsor "great conversation" in an online environment like Jeremy Wright's blog network, I think we'll start to see examples of corporations sponsoring music and other types of art. Fans and the general public will be able to get the music for free, while the artist doesn't starve to death. Its really a win-win situation.
I think that some people will frown upon this model, and will see it as another way that corporations are manipulating our culture for their own benefit. If that is the case, then these same people
I, however, don't see this model of corporate sponsorship or patronage as a bad thing at all. I think it will create all kinds of new opportunities for artists in many different mediums to create art.
What are your thoughts on corporate sponsorship?