Free? The answer may define the future state of creativity.
Music has become virtually free and while that has certainly broadened access and increased quantity... it hasn't done much for quality.
Newspapers and books are feeling the gravity of an expanding "freeconomy" right now, with no updraft on the horizon. The WSJ "Freemium" strategy, where basic content is free but premium content comes with a price tag, might work for a little while... but not for long. Consumers are already exhibiting symptoms of "subscription fatigue".
Ad models are currently being fashioned to try and fill the gap, but what will be the real cost to the consumer: The Mona Lisa... brought to you by Proactive? Seeking underwriting and soliciting public donations may be a piece of the puzzle... but as is the case with NPR and PBS, each year the pledge drives grow and the revenues shrink.
As monitors get larger and less expensive, and internet access gets faster and cheaper, the movie industry will see an inevitable "free fall" as well.
A storm is building, and it's a big one. The winds of change have already begun to blow down the structures of artist compensation. Soon, the rains of creativity which nourish us all, will be completely free... and maybe they should be. Perhaps it's time we turned our attention towards finding a way to monetize the clouds.