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Are people "too lazy" to sign up for new micropayment service?

Writing from behind the Milwaukee Magazine paywall is still a work in progress for me, as a bumpy Thursday demonstrated.

I have a quick-and-dirty mind. The moment I learn something I post it or want to. And when I can’t I pout. Too, years as a reporter taught me that if you don’t know something, write around it.

I have been on my own blog tool long enough to know it, and my, limitations, and write around them. The magazine blog tool is similar to mine, but I still don’t have the hang of it.

The biggest obstacle remains embedding video that is not posted on YouTube. This was one of the issues I ran into on Thursday. Filing by remote from the home office causes a bit of a time lag that I got used to. But I couldn’t find features I usually work with and others were new to me.

When I couldn’t resolve the conflict by the time I finished writing, I posted Thursday’s Milwaukee Media notebook on my free site.

It was a round up, nothing great, but it had video and a photo I took of the WTMJ-TV (Channel 4) newscast. When I couldn’t embed “Today” show video on the Milwaukee Lion, I linked to it.

Filing on my free site however was like driving through a yellow light, I should have stopped for. There was no reason it couldn’t have behind the paywall.

All of which is mea culpa and gang aft agley.

What remains is “The Disclaimer,” a thoughtful media and culture brunch Wednesdays on WMSE-FM (91.7). It is hosted by Matt Wild, Evan Rytlewski and WMSE’ promotions director Ryan Schleicher, who’s the one with the radio voice.

This week the trio had a healthy debate about the Milwaukee magazine paywall plan, and my role in it. They were nice to both of us. But they saw the micropayment system as a noble failure for various reasons.

Wild, co-founder of alt-music and culture site Milwaukee Record, said he was “too lazy” to register for the micropayment provider iMoneza, whose name he couldnt pronounce.

“Oh, I have to sign up for some new kind of payment system. And I don’t want to log in a password for that. And put in my credit card. I’m too lazy for that. And I think a lot of people are too.”

amusicfree41uqX+wVxbL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Schleicher said he “despised” comments about the paywall on the Milwaukee Magazine Facebook page  from people who were “insulted to be asked to pay” for content.

“Writers are like anyone else. They perform a job and they hope” it pays them. “That said, the micropayment path is really hard and I don’t predict a lot of success. Mainly because there is no ubiquitous” payment platform.

Rytlewski, music editor of the Shepherd Express, blamed the publishing industry’s failure to adapt to the internet with a unified system.

“Music was a mess before iTunes” which “organized everything quite neatly,” he said. “Suddenly people were paying a dollar for a song.”

The struggle to achieve that consistency is chronicled in How Music Got Free, with the unwieldy subtitle: “The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century and the Patient Zero of Piracy.”

The book by Stephen Witt focuses on the music industry’s early missteps, told through the German inventors of the MP3, the record label executive Doug Morris, and a North Carolina warehouse employee who “working in total isolation had over a period of eight years cemented his reputation as the most fearsome digital pirate of all. He was the Patient Zero of  Internet Music piracy.”

In creating iTunes, Witt wrote, Apple founder Steve Jobs recognized “that in an economy of abundance, people needed to invest great personal meaning in their purchasing decisions.”

The problem for the publishing industry in creating a universal payment system like that, “Is that it’s too late,” Rytlewski said. The “expectation of free content is going to be really hard,” to shake. But even though he’s “reluctant to sign up for these services … I’ve seen the importance for them.”

He cited the demise of the film site The Dissolve.

“If they charged a dime or quarter for each piece … I would have happily paid it. It’s not that I don’t want to pay or the content isn’t worth it. The system isn’t in place.”

And yet here I am, like an albatross around the neck of Milwaukee Magazine’s paywall.

Besides learning its architecture I also have to get my dormant inner story generator back in shape, which is is harder to do as the summer days turn perfect.

I plan to post breaking content behind the paywall, which like any animal, needs constant feeding and bigger features to stay alive, like the first piece about life at WKLH after Carole Caine.

You say you haven’t seen it? Please spend 25-cents and buy it. I did.

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