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From hobby to business

posted by Jason Kottke   May 21, 2006

In an article for the BBC, Alan Krueger describes how the entertainment industry in the US has become more business-like over the years:

“Early on in the entertainment industry, it’s in the interest of the business to think of themselves as throwing a party, not selling a product. I think they attract more of a following that way,” he said.

“But over time, the industry takes more the form of a market and is driven by market forces. The Superbowl initially felt like it was rewarding its fans. But then it becomes established and the League finds it in its interest to push up prices.”

As my involvement in kottke.org resembles something more like a business and less like a hobby, I’ve noticed the trajectory described by Krueger, both in my approach to the site and in how kottke.org’s readers perceive it. I’m sure other people have experienced this when their small projects have become businesses — like Blogger, Movable Type, del.icio.us, Upcoming, etc. — and have struggled to maintain a “rewarding its fans” type of relationship with their customers under increasing pressure from the market to focus on other things. Craigslist has done a good job in sticking close to their initial values and not allowing their business to be driven primarily by market forces. A company like Friendster? Not so successful.

Anyway, an interesting pattern to be aware of.