If you are on some social networks you might notice that are different economics: the one who posts first, the one with the most posts, the one with the most karma (or kudos on other networks) and on Twitter there is the one with the most followers. However all of these economics are not about the first poster, or the one with the most followers or the superdude (or whatever obscure label one might get when one has the most karma / kudos), it is all about attention. Attention economy does exist and is creating bigger revenues than ever.
Attention is key
The fact that I have 600+ followers on Twitter does not mean a thing. It matters how much attention I can get them for my tweets. Mr Kutcher might be a bit more successful since he has 1.6 million followers, which is just a numbers game. If I only can get attention of 1% of my followers, it means that 6 people will read my Tweet and make an action. If Mr Kutcher can get attention of only 0.1% of his followers, it means that he got 1600 people who do something. This is just a game of numbers, however it might be clear that the number of people who are following you does not make the difference, nor the number of posts / tweets you produce on a certain platform, it is about how many people you can really reach, of how many can you get the attention and how many people can you inspire to take action.
What is worth paying?
Same goes for music, anybody can download a copy for free (which does not necessarily mean that it is legal!), however not everyone can make something that freely available into something that catches the attention of the public and is worth paying for. A great example is the iPhone application from the Presidents of the United States, you can download their music for free (again, this does not mean that you are performing a legal action), however they also offer a paid application in the Appstore for 5 euros. You can pay 5 euros for a box, a piece of user experience and listen to the music. The box is about creating attention and seems to be worth paying for, the copy of the music which is leveraged by the box is not unique and already available for no costs.
You can make money if you can create awareness and capture one’s attention, you probably make no (or less) money on copies and on vague big numbers such as the number of followers. It just matters of how many time people give to you when you capture their attention.