Money, Art, Paid vs Free Content, and the Internet

A partial history of how artists, cultural producers, and content providers have experimented with funding and support models during the Internet Age.

Every new technology comes paired with a new crop of creative people who explore that technology. The earliest web code has ASCII art ebedded in it. After the film camera was released at the end of the 19th century, thousands of new photographers were born. Today, millions of people are Instagramming their lives. The shift to digital content and creativity, while ripe with explorations, has been mired with the problem of how to monetize and support that creativity. This timeline chronicles a partial history of how artists, cultural producers, and content providers have experimented with funding and support models during the Internet Age. The resulting picture shows a shift both in how people are looking for funding as well as who those funders are. ;xNLx;;xNLx;Ever since the days of BBSs, the internet has made it easier for us to find 'our' people. Some worry that the ease of information exchange has led to a more homogenized world, but I’d argue the opposite. We can now find the only other marker cap collector in the world and strike up a conversation. Niches can be hyper specialized and personalized because their reach is global. It isn’t a surprise, then, that the tools and platforms we use to support these sub-cultures will be equally idiosyncratic. Paywalls work for very dedicated users; Kickstarter works for pre-sale and projects with wide appeal; Sunday Soup thrives on community. Perhaps Net Art hasn’t found its tool yet, but the problem itself has been a [fertile ground]( for exploration.;xNLx;;xNLx;As the internet leaves its teenage years, standards and best practices for how we use the technology, where we draw the line on privacy, and how we support the people who make digital content and move our culture forward are unanswered questions. This is the fun part.;xNLx;;xNLx;_______________________________;xNLx;;xNLx;;xNLx;Information for this timeline was compiled from a large variety of (mostly US-based) sources, but there are a couple of major contributors: ;xNLx;[This list]( about Net Art, compiled by Will Brand for mention in [this article]( in [Art Fag City]( ;xNLx;;xNLx;[This article]( about the history of media paywalls featured in [The Week]( ;xNLx;;xNLx;*Tiki-toki does not allow for ongoing projects, so anything with an end date of December 2013 means that it is ongoing.;xNLx;;xNLx;_______________________________;xNLx;;xNLx;Eleanor Hanson Wise is the co-founder and director of [The Present Group](, a project-based initiative that blurs the line between art production, commerce, advocacy, and philanthropy. She has developed a program for TPG that includes an [art subscription service](, a [web hosting service]( that funds an intermittent [arts prize](, and [Art Micro Patronage](, an experimental exhibition platform showcasing and funding artwork online. TPG is currently developing [The People's E book](, a people-funded online tool to allow everyone to make e-books easily and for free. membership model

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MTAA develops a series of ideas and offers up the ideas for commissioning.

The “Website Unseen” project offered one hundred titles for art web sites that MTAA promised to build for $US 100.00 per website.

Washington Post to implement "very leaky" paywall

New York Times plugs up leaky paywall

digital subscriber base: 640,000

Wall Street Journal implements "hard" online paywall

One of the first US national newspapers to implement paywall, only a year after launching $50/yr paywall

After a one year experiment with a $20 yearly subscription fee, drops its paywall. 20,000 people had subscribed, but the free area of the site was receiving ~400,000 monthly visitors. passes 200,000 paying online subscribers

Los Angeles Times Entertainment Section Paywall

Initiated with a price of $4.95/month or $39.95/yr along with free access for print subscribers, the paywall came down 21 months later. After a 61- 97% drop in readership of the affected section, the paywall is dismantled. Premium

Exclusive content with no ads. "Only readers can keep the independent press alive," implores editor David Talbot. introduces paywall workaround

Non-subscribers can now watch a commercial and then access content.

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