It’s Friday, time to get another punch on your Punchnel’s Punchcard. Collect ten punches and get a free bonus punch (offer good through last Friday).


Our topic this week: Why pay for content? Blogger and romance writer Sarah Madison sent us down this line of questioning initially: She was appalled after encountering widespread online support for those seeking pirated stories.


Whether because we’re broke, or because we’re entitled, or because we’re the new normal, it seems as if more and more of us are consuming more and more content, online, without paying for it. Or by paying only very little. Too little, some say, for those who create the content to survive.


No matter how you break on this issue, as a consumer or as an artist, there’s no doubt that “making a living with your art” is a difficult proposition. Unless you’re already crazy famous, and then you can think about licensing a clothing line or perfume.


From the consumer end, part of the problem is the undeniable appeal of free stuff. We love it even to the point of buying stuff we don’t need to get it. And when it comes to bootlegging, of music and movies especially, well that’s been going on for a quite a while.


But why will we pay—as indie-rocker David Lowery points out—for access, and for data, and for our fancy phones, and then balk at shelling out even ten dollars for a book or an album? Why is it always the creator that gets squeezed?


The model that consumers like—paying to avoid ads, or to lower metered paywalls—may not be the one that makes the most sense for artists. But it’s pretty tough to just opt out of streaming and digital publishing when everyone else is doing it. Even if you’re Radiohead.


Punchnel’s doesn’t charge for content, and we don’t have a paywall, but we do have those ads you may be seeing right now at the top or the side of the page. If you click them, we’ll get a little money, which we use to pay a little money to our contributors. We know making good stuff is hard work, and money (even a little) is one way we try to acknowledge that.