Wine and trust

Artistic work is best paired with high-trust commerce.

Wine and trust

This excellent, long metaphor comes from Alex Danco speaking on the Business Breakdowns podcast of April 5, 2021:

Imagine you're going to go buy a bottle of wine and you're going to go to a dinner party with this bottle of wine.

You're going to see some great friends you haven't seen for a year, you're gonna go to their house and bring this bottle of wine. What's going through your mind when you go through this purchase?

Is this an easy purchase? Is this a low-friction purchase? I don't think so. You're gonna think a lot about this.

You care a lot about this bottle of wine for a few reasons. You care about the identity of the merchant and how it's presented to you, how it makes you feel about this purchase. Because when you go take this bottle of wine and you go drink it at your friend's house, it's an expression of you.

You really care about this wine. You care about it being good. You care about what it says about you, and the merchant's identity and your identity is very wrapped-up in this potential purchase.

This is what I call high-trust commerce [...] Let me contrast that to low-trust commerce, where it is all about convenience. It's about, "Get rid of the friction, get rid of the inconvenience, get rid of any obstacle that is in the way of this transaction happening."

You want your artistic work to be more like selling bottles of wine than low-trust commerce. You want your audience to wrap up their identity with yours and pay for the meaningful experience you share.

I wrote in "Maria Schneider's whales" about a jazz artist who has earned the direct trust of her own audience through decades of excellent albums. Schneider, who owns her customer relationships, has the ability to avoid YouTube and Spotify altogether. This is high-trust commerce in action—each album of hers is like a fancy bottle of wine. It's also a rejection of low-trust commerce.

But it's not all about money. Sometimes a $11 bottle of wine can feel more meaningful than a $60 bottle of wine, and an enthusiastic recommendation can be just as much of a valuable delight as a purchase.

But the music streaming apparatus—like all of today's biggest content platforms—imposes low-trust commerce on everyone who listens.

For instance, there's a connection to a change in people's behaviour over time in how they share YouTube videos. This is Peter Kafka from the Land of the Giants podcast episode of March 2, 2021:

If I send you a YouTube link today and tell you, ‘you gotta check it out’, you might definitely have some questions before you click. But back then, the way I remember it, it probably meant you were going to get something goofy or fun. This is when people had less complicated feelings about the internet in general.

Sharing a YouTube video used to be like sharing the bottle of wine. Now it's low-trust.

Get out from under the thumb of these low-trust operators and give someone the wine-level treatment—they'll thank you for it.