Imagine a business that made more than 12 billion dollars (that's US $12,470,000,000), including almost 3 billion dollars profit in 2014. That's double their profits in 2013 which are the amount it cost to operate the whole City of Ottawa (arts funding, OC Transpo, garbage collection, water, libraries, etc.) in 2013. Those windfall profits were made without creating original, published work of its own – except for updated legal terms that grab as many rights as possible to artists' original works, without paying them one cent.
Is this an exploitative record company returning from decades past? Or a mega-conglomerate of charities and small venues who want musicians to play for free? No. It's Facebook, where you can be both their free content provider, and their product: what they sell is your personal information.
Of course Facebook doesn't just profit from music-related activity. Photographs, provided at no cost to Facebook, have been essential to keeping their products' eyes in front of more advertisers for a longer time.
At OttawaJazzScene.ca, we're not fans of Facebook's business model of “money for nothing”. That's why you won't find our photographs or other original content posted there, but at most, links to our original content that we worked hard to create, published at OttawaJazzScene.ca. We're also not fans of the misguided impression that Facebook is the place to find new content – because Facebook spends $0 to create any new work themselves, be it a musical or other artistic performance, a photograph, researching and writing a news story or an interview, recording and editing a video story, or writing a review. The original and useful content is created by others, but Facebook would like everyone to perceive that it's actually part of them.
Regrettably, even a link to our content on Facebook gives it free and valuable content and newsworthiness to attract product, and to wrap their advertisements and “promoted posts” around to further fuel their outrageous profits from creating nothing.
Furthermore, the money that Facebook takes from Canadians is not staying in our own communities, especially our artistic communities, to sustain them - especially when times are tough. 27-year-old Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's net worth is US $24 Billion. He welcomes more free contributions from all his products, but does he need more? Do his fellow shareholders? The outrageously rich get richer...
No ecosystem is robustly healthy when it's a monculture or a monopoly. Imagine what Ottawa-Gatineau would look like today if all our trees had been Ash trees? Or would sound like if one restaurant was the only venue for jazz musicians to perform at?
I strongly believe that community-based and independent publications like OttawaJazzScene.ca and others are essential to a healthy Canadian arts scene and ecosystem. I hope you'll agree. Although the optimum way forward is not totally clear yet, you can still help sustain a healthy arts ecosystem now. Please visit OttawaJazzScene.ca directly and daily, to see the wonderful live music that you can hear on the scene today, and to enjoy our latest stories and reviews – or use an RSS feed to remind you when we post new stories. Please tell your friends about us by email and in-person. Finally, please make a reader donation if possible.
At OttawaJazzScene.ca, our newsletter and website content that keeps you informed and entertained is the product. Not you. We hope you find it deserving of your first donation, or continuing support. If not, please let us know what you'd like to see more of.
Do you have any comments? Please share them with me by email or phone me anytime.
See you on the scene,
publisher and dishwasher
Updated 2015 May 9 to make it clearer that Facebook's profits, not revenues, are what it costs to operate the City of Ottawa for one year.