Elon Musk outlined on Saturday an idea for his Twitter platform that would let media producers charge users with a simple click for each item.
The billionaire businessman explained on Twitter that this allows readers who wouldn’t sign up for a monthly membership to pay a higher per-article price when they want to read an infrequent item. He also added that this “should be a major win-win for both media organizations & the public.”
He stated that the scheme will start the following month but gave no specifics on cost or the percentage cut Twitter would receive.
The news came as Musk was battling to make Twitter profitable in the midst of ongoing turmoil.
Rolling out next month, this platform will allow media publishers to charge users on a per article basis with one click.
This enables users who would not sign up for a monthly subscription to pay a higher per article price for when they want to read an occasional article.…
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 29, 2023
Since readers have grown accustomed to getting news for free online, media companies have struggled to create subscription plans that cover their operating expenses.
The Musk proposal raises concerns about just how he intends to succeed where others have failed with the micropayment strategy.
In the Columbia Journalism Review, British journalist James Ball outlined a number of issues with micropayments, which, according to him, have “definitely occurred to major publishers across the planet.”
When confronted with a paywall, many readers would simply click away, he observed. Additionally, publishers “vastly” prefer to sign up long-term subscribers because they generate much more money from advertising than they do from the roughly 20 cents per article that is sold.
Other concerns were made by several Twitter users. According to them, the per-article strategy might promote the growth of “clickbait,” it might favor large publishers over small ones, and it is unclear whether authors, not just newsgroups, would get any money.
However, some Twitter users responded favorably.
Greg Autry tweeted, “Great idea.” As a frequent contributor to magazines like Forbes, Foreign Policy, and Ad Astra, I find it frustrating when my articles are placed behind paywalls that my readers are unwilling to pay for. This is the best course of action.
And Carlos Gil, the author of a book on marketing, tweeted: “Finally, a pay-per-view for news that won’t make you feel like you’re buying an overpriced stadium beer. Get your articles à la carte and keep your wallet happy.”