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Your Curve

The Curve is an idea, a new way of looking at the world. Find an audience, probably using free. Be able to speak to them again and figure out what they value, probably using technology. Enable superfans, by letting those who love what you do spend lots of money on things they really value.

This page is for your feedback. Let me know how you are embracing the Curve. Share with others where you have seen The Curve in unlikely places – politics, healthcare, financial services – and more likely ones – fashion, art, books.

For now, we’ll just run this as a comment thread. And as we figure out how best to share your ideas with other people, we’ll try different approaches.

So please, post your ideas. Share your thoughts. I’m all ears.

Nicholas Lovell

  • David Neal

    So, I think Nicholas is being ingenuous, telling us how to make big $ by giving away our stuff for free and charging us for his book. why isn’t it free? and who are all the folks who will give big $ to us? only gamers are this one dimensional I think. and even then, there are very few of them and most don’t have the resources to throw away. I think this is totally bogus.

    • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

      I’m guessing that you are countering my arguments without having read them. But in the spirit of dialogue, can you tell me what you mean by “only gamers are this one dimensional”?

      • David Neal

        Obviously I have not read the book, as you aren’t giving it away and I certainly won’t buy it. But I have read your articles. I know some gamers and they are not like most other people. They are really into their game world. Most people will not give up big $ except for big experience, for example, sports fans for tickets to the Super Bowl, etc. Then there are the Larry Elisons of the world who can spend multi-millions on a yacht race and thus subsidize a number of sailors. But I don’t think that the majority of content producers will be able to live on giving their product away. I suspect that we will find out, however.

        • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

          If you’re feeling open minded, you could try reading this http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ways-Money-World-Penguin-Specials-ebook/dp/B00FGUM8EU

          But in the end, the stuff that is digital is trending towards free. My way involves giving creators and artists hope and control over their own destiny. Yours is to rage against the dying of the light until it, well, dies.

          I fear that won’t turn out well.

          • David Neal

            clearly you have no idea what I am doing. understandably so. so you are jumping to conclusions, as you accuse me of. I do have an understanding of your position, based on your writings, but obviously not the book which I won’t buy. you can have a look at http://www.alicewinks.com to see that our stuff is: all digital, indie and way out of the realm of the lamestream. and we will be using targeted give away of our iBook next week. (hop on and get one!) so we are not adverse to free and discounted, etc. nor of building our fan base.
            my problem with your argument is that it is not a general formula, nor can there be a formula that works all the time. everyone is producing “content” (something like 10 hours of video uploaded to youtube every hour.) not everyone can find an audience full of people willing to drop big bucks. in fact, as always, only a small number of artists will find a following that will even pay the small amount that a video/song/book costs. quality will cut through the noise eventually. however, the noise is getting louder all the time so cutting through will be harder than ever.
            as to your free download, I am currently residing in NZ as a US citizen/resident. as such, my US based credit cards do not work with Amazon/iTunes./Google NZ (although restaurants and bars etc. take them just fine). my kiwibank eftpos card is not acceptable to them either. so I need to trot over to the kiwi bank and try to get one of their Visa debit cards so that I can log on and “pay” for the free download. such is the way of the world these days. even getting things for free can be costly (in terms of time and effort)!

          • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

            Send me your email address and ill send you a PDF of the free ebook

          • David Neal
    • Andy Core

      I think the definition of bogus is “Someone who will call someone’s book bogus without reading it.”

      • David Neal

        I am not saying his book is bogus, I won’t pay for it, so I can’t say. I said his arguments (which are available elsewhere) are bogus. I do not believe that an artistic economy can exist today based on patronage which is basically what Nick is promoting. There just aren’t enough 1%-ers out there to support everyone who thinks they are creative. As Bob Frank suggests in the NYTimes http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/business/winners-take-all-but-cant-we-still-dream.html we are more likely in a “Winner Takes All” economy in the arts. Very few artists will thrive in this. Equivalently, “Don’t quit your day job.” This is not to say that Nick’s ideas will not work for a small number of people (the winners), just that it is naïve to think that it will work for a large percentage of creators and justify anyone buying his book. (The winners don’t need it, the rest of us won’t benefit from his ideas, unfortunately.)

        • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

          Unfortunately you’ll never know. Because you don’t know what my ideas are :-)

          • David Neal

            Perhaps not. Maybe that’s why my critically acclaimed eBook isn’t selling. But I doubt it. I actually have followed your playbook quite well, I believe (although not yet totally.) I have significant free content out there and have done give-aways, contests, etc. I will probably try some higher value enticements as well (iPad giveaway wasn’t too successful, actually.) I just don’t think that there is any magic to it, unfortunately. What I think is probably key (which I lack) is Celebrity. People are not buying content, they are patronizing celebrity. Case in point J.K. Rowling vs. Robert Galbraith. So, if you want to make any money, you have to become a Rock-Star (not as in musician, as in celebrity.)

          • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

            Celebrity is one answer. Building relationships based on high quality content that you give away for free is another. I don’t think incentivised giveaways like an iPad draw are that special, because that is paid media (people giving your their email address because they want an iPad) not earned media (people giving your their email address because they want more of what you do).

            I’m not sure you can have followed my playbook, since you refuse to read it :-)

          • David Neal

            I am not refusing to read your book, I am refusing to buy it, that’s different. (I might read a library copy, I just tried the Wellington library overdrive catalogue, they don’t seem to have it.) but I have read your articles and the free 10-step PDF that you graciously sent me when I couldn’t download it from New Zealand. I actually wish that you had a magic bullet, I could use one! You are right about the iPad giveaway (it did serve a purpose, so not a total loss.) I have abandoned the high-value contest line of thought. And I totally agree that the key is getting people to know what we have done and to want more of it. I’m just saying that not everyone can be successful at this, in fact there will be very few winners. And those winners probably already know this, they don’t need your book. Those who need your book are unlikely to win, I’m afraid.

  • niche

    Nick, I think you have the right idea, but for some reason you’ve discounted the physical world. Why?

    • David Neal

      Well of course the real world is important and i’m sure Nick realizes this as does everyone else. His particular perspective, from the gamer’s world is very virtual and online. And that is unique. Find your high-value points wherever you can, if you can. If not, and if everything is free, well i hope you can survive on cake as there will be no bread.

      • niche

        You’re dodging the question. 100% of all the living and dying still
        happens in the physical world and will for the rest of our lives.

        I’m simply challenging you (and Nick) to make the connection since we’re all on the same side. The connection’s there, but you’ll have to name it to claim it. Else, the Curve will forever miss at least half it’s promise.

        What’s the weakness in the Curve Concept that makes it “tricky” to implement in the physical world? How would you remove that weakness?

        • David Neal

          Of course Nick’s concept works in the real world, in fact it was the dominant model of art funding throughout history. It’s name was/is “Patronage” and most of the major artists had it, because there was no mass market for art. Art was free (statues displayed in public places, church art) and was paid for by the wealthy. Only with the rise of the middle classes and their ability to buy things did “art” esp. books and music and movies become “democratically” paid for (in small chunks rather than large ones.) A problem in the world today is the rise of income inequality that drives Nick and others to reach for the model –used from antiquity to the renaissance and beyond –of funding of the arts primarily by the wealthy.

          • niche

            Way too many words. Plus, you’re dodging the question – again.

            I’m on your side. However, there’s a big weakness in the Curve when it comes to physical goods sold locally (per Nick’s own admission). If you don’t see it or at least agree with what’s in the book, we’ll need to move on.

            You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge.

          • evanhadkins

            The trickiiness is about value. In the real world their is the ‘less real’ kind of value called “fame”. Hollywood and sports stars – there is no upper limit on what their superfans (brands) will pay for an endorsement. Because the value is linked to something non-physical – fame. There was a book about this called something like The Winner Take All economy (I forget the author). Nicholas mentions this when he talks about the big getting bigger.

          • niche

            Evan’s first sentence is on point. Then you go off the rails.

            What else can be said about the way value is presented, in a local-physical context?

          • evanhadkins

            If you are wanting different kinds of value Edward de Bono has his six value medals. If you are looking for innovative business ideas based on values de Bono and Lyons have Marketing Without Money (in a nutshell: Get famous for providing outstanding value).

            The usual approach is ‘know your customers’ (pain points, passions, needs and so on)

          • niche

            That’s all mostly unactionable boilerplate.

            Let’s back-up and frame the problem. If you want to sell more physical stuff, in a local retail context, what’s the traditional way to do that?

          • evanhadkins

            In general: appeal to passing trade I would think.

          • niche

            OK.

            Why doesn’t that work as well as it used to?

          • niche

            A day later and still no answer. The Curve’s nothing more than a strategy fragment without the right answer to the last question. You’re probably staring at it, but can you name it and claim it?

          • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

            So far this week, I’ve been on the radio, given two conference talks and prepared another, spent two full days at clients in different parts of the country and had a game announced. I’m not sure I see why taking a while to respond means that I don’t have answers.

            I have discounted physical. Quite the opposite. My position is that if something can be shared digitally, its price is likely to fall. The response is to adapt by selling – probably at a premium – the things the people still value. They will value things that make them feel special. They will value artefacts (i.e. some people will value books or CDs or DVDs or limited editions because they are physical; others will ascribe a negative value to those things). They will value experiences and physical items that trigger the memores of these experiences.

            The nature of what people is value is changing, because the costs of sharing and distribution have changed. That is my point.

          • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

            I don’t believe that this model drives art and commerce being paid for only by the wealthy. My argument is that when you can get digital stuff for free, we need to enable to spend on different things they value all along the pricing curve, ranging from a few dollars to tens of thousands.

            There is a risk of funding primarily by the wealthy. That already exists now in the fine arts and I see The Curve more as a democratisation of that than a reinforcement of that.

            Most of all, I see the Curve as a response to an unstoppable change. If you have a better response, I’m all ears.

  • evanhadkins

    Hi Nicholas, I’m a blogger and a lot of what you say has been the orthodoxy in blogging. I hope you find this encouraging.

    Most of what you say is directed to companies (where the money is) so not terribly relevant to a soloist like me.

    The biggest effect for me, and a very good one, was to think about superfans and catering to who they might be. This has been very freeing and a great relief, thankyou.

  • Cat Henderson

    I enjoyed reading your book. Makes sense to me and how to approach my online startup. Your book answered some questions I had in my mind. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Valuable content.

    • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

      Thank you. Do let me know how you get on.

  • Andy Core

    I’ve bought your book. Can’t wait for it. Your rsa.org presentation is top notch.

    • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

      Thank you very much, Andy. I’m glad that I was able to distil the ideas in the RSA presentation. It’s one of things I’m still working on: how best to create a short, easily-sharable, *contagious* expression of The Curve.

  • Laggard

    I am abhorrent to the CURVE. I don’t like being in front of it. It’s expensive, time consuming, and transient. My question is how do you make money on the other end of the curve … the TRAILING edge?

    • David Neal

      Short answer, you don’t. This is a “winner take all” game and only those few who can climb the curve will survive. Don’t quit your day job. Nick is right, unfortunately it doesn’t help the rest of us very much.

  • petersyme

    I have been experimenting with this concept prior to reading your book. In 2009 we started by giving away free photography ( we previously charged £30 a disc) more recently in the last 2 years we have been experimenting with giving free trips at the lower end of our price scale. Results have been mixed, we have not yet secured a journey for our small % of customers to higher end purchases but are working on it. It is challenging as the vast majority of our customer base is one time only buyers and to make this concept work well scale is required. Enjoyed the read.

  • Jim Roberts

    Over Christmas I read your book and the principle of the curve came up in a recent conversation I had with a local University, concerning MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) which are online courses aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. This is being offered free, but provides a taster of the course with no resultant certification. This seems a fit for the curve, but the question is how do you generate revenue at the end of curve instead of as a taster to encourage students to want to sign up for the full accredited course

    • http://www.gamesbrief.com Nicholas Lovell

      I agree with you :-) I’m not sure I have the answers for MOOCs yet. At the moment, they are often the two extreme ends of the Curve: free (and often difficult to get to the end of) or very expensive (with very substantial time commitments).

      I think we can certainly agree that MOOCs are starting the process of easier access to learning, in the same way that encarta, and then Wikipedia, enhanced access to knowledge that used to be contained in encyclopedias or libraries. We know how that ended for Encyclopedia Britannica: the ability for anyone to learn something was improved, at the cost of a $1.6 billion a year business that went away.

      So I think MOOCs are the *start* of a really interesting set of experiments and changes in how we disseminate knowledge, learning and the ability to learn.

      So without knowing the answer, here are some of the questions I would be trying to address if I were experimenting with MOOCs:
      – can I reach a wider audience using MOOCs, while providing *something* that they value (and are willing to pay for) more than free access.

      • Jim Roberts

        Hi Nicholas, thank you for taking the time to provide a considered answer. I meeting up with the University again in a few week so will bring up this topic of conversation and your thoughts. I will let you know of any feedback.

  • Jim Roberts

    Check out the use of The Curve by local Devon artist Small Town Jones, who is using Kickstarter with exclusive goodies and private sessions to release next album. Good recent example of The Curve in action.

  • Jackie Agojo-Lau

    Hi Im Jackie from Malaysia. I have just finished the book and it is very insightful. However I am still puzzled on how can I apply the curve into my industry . I am managing a residential apartment with 111 rooms (1 bedroom/2 bedroom/3 bedroom). Given the stiff competition in my area now due to the economic crisis caused by oil price drop, new competitions with better facilities, and the old competitors who keep pulling the price low. Is there any other way I can apply the curve aside from content marketing? Your suggestions will be highly appreciated. Thank you in advance.