Monday, July 27, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #74: Shaking up Arts and Entertainment Industries

The accessibility of both the Internet and of personal computing has essentially cut many established industries into two main pieces: (1) The dying, but well-connected (and funded), dinosaurs and (2) the up-and-coming innovators, whose content results may vary.

The music industry has been affected very severely, if not the most, by the rise of the World Wide Web. Currently, there are two main tiers: (1) Commercial recording artists (etc.) of most genres, under contract and signed by record labels and/or 360-deal conglomerates; and (2) independent recording artists of all genres who use social networking, local gigs, and grassroots marketing to spread their music. It's basically mass-distributed CD artists (from major label or feeder-pseudo-indie record labels) in one separate industry (Music Industry 1.0), and potentially mass-distributed MP3 artists (from indie record labels but mostly D.I.Y. musicians) in another entirely different music industry (Music Industry 2.0).

Of course there is overlap: Big commercial music acts have their albums on iTunes and AmazonMP3, and independent musicians burn CD-Rs for sale at shows, and some well-known bands have recently rejected record label contracts. However, the modes of production, distribution, and marketing between both music industries are usually different.

The film industry has suffered from the exponential amount of bootleg distribution on the Web. Because of the InterWebs, movies (and other forms of audiovisual entertainment) are also separating into two diverging industries: (1) Big budget blockbuster movies, which vary from good press (Up) to bad press (Transformers 2); and (2) YouTube videos, which have their own set of quality issues (trite videos become viral then forgotten, criticism comes in the form of cowardly Web trolls, etc.).

If the YouTube pseudo-movie industry (let's call it Video Industry 0.9 Beta) can come up with quality productions that actually go viral, then it will have an optimistic future as Music Industry 2.0. Maybe some titans from Film Industry 1.0 could seriously venture into the realm of the Video Industry 0.9 Beta (analogous to Music Industry 1.0 bands pioneering successfully in Music Industry 2.0), and not just dabble to be cute or trite.

That's easier said than done, I suppose, because for the well-connected, Film Industry 1.0 throws around large contracts and funding, money lacking in Video Industry 0.9 Beta. True innovators and an audience paradigm shift can make both Film Industry 2.0 and a commercially-viable Video Industry 1.0 realities.

There's not much to write about TV anymore. It's fully of reality shows (arguably that could be Television Industry 2.0), and a lot of televised content is ported over to the Internet. Current TV's SuperNews! animated show satrized this situation quite well:



With the advent of Amazon.com's Kindle and competing eBook readers, book publishing can potentially break into two: (1) Paper-consuming printing publishers who only produce and promote already-established writers (especially those with bestselling series), autobiographies by famous people, and other commercially-viable topics; and (2) a greener, PDF-based (or equivalent) publishing industry. Right now, paper book publishers are cautious of this new mode of consumption, but hopefully they won't make the same mistakes as Music Industry 1.0 (rather, the Recording Industry) during the emergence of the MP3. If the big publishing houses can successfuly integrate eBooks in their repertoire, then maybe Book Industry 1.0 can upgrade to Book Industry 2.0, with little to no parallel competition between paper books and eBooks.

In any case, the lack of open standards (other than for free PDFs) between the Kindle format and competing eBooks also may stifle the growth of Book Industry 2.0. Right now, the realm of Book Industry 2.0 is ironically the proliferation of public domain works (i.e., very old books) at Project Gutenberg, Google Books, LibriVox (for audiobooks), and other intrepid places on the Web.

To bring this rant to a close, I will make some biased predictions (that is, predictions that show my biased hope for the future of these industries): Music 1.0 will ultimately fail due to its stupidity and lame pseudo-innovation (360-deals and the Ticketmaster/LiveNation monopoly are not innovations); Music 2.0 will succeed (but there's always room for vinyl for artists who can afford this medium); Film Industry 1.0 will have a summer blockbuster season for many years to come, with varying results (as always); Video Industry 0.9 Beta will eventually have a release candidate; TV will still be good for sports and not much else; Book Industry 1.0 will figure it out better than Music Industry 1.0 did, so that paper books and eBooks (and free eBooks!) can co-exist in a brave Book Industry 2.0 world.

After all, libraries existed before the modern publishing industry emerged, and they've existed relatively peaceably for quite a long time. In any case, as long as more people read - and I don't mean hurriedly-written blog posts like here - then the Book Industry (commercial and public domain) will upgrade with few to no bugs.

1 comment:

  1. I think what works for the music industry paradigm does not necessarily work for the film industry. The problem with the youtube stuff is that if you DO try to do quality entertainment, the jealous trolls come out to play. It's disheartening and depressing and I think it discouraged talented people from even bothering. Also, while a musical act can get a piece of the door and sell their CD's, t-shirts, etc., at their shows, a film director has a much more difficult time four-walling theaters and then actually making money off of it. There's something in music that people get something from when they see people live on stage for two hours that they don't get from watching an indie in a theater versus watching it on DVD. In filmmaking, you have to get in the some kind of commerical, 'Film 1.0' door in order to make a decent living.

    Also, I think it's pretty obvious that the music industry's 'old way' conspires greatly against successful musicians who lack the longevity and eventual clout to gain control of their rights (Billy Joel, Springsteen, and The Beatles come to mind). The same system conspires to keep talented people out, whereas I don't think the movie industry does the same as much. If a studio feels they can trust you with millions of dollars on the line, then they'll grab you and put you on a set. And you make a pretty good living too, which isn't really the same as the music industry. In Hollywood, a director who makes it is king for a lifetime because it's just plain difficult to find people to trust with that kind of money and power. Even studio heads know that while their job is fleeting, directors are usually around for a looooong time.

    In the indie world, most of the stuff is downright boring and lacks any kind of entertainment value and/or mass appeal. Many indies want to say something and worry obsessively over picture quality these days, rather than concentrating first on making sure there's something worth watching up on the screen. But I also think that's normal because this is like the first time that the tools and the professional level of quality are available to everyone. As time goes on, that will be less of a novelty and the story itself will once again be king.

    Anyway, great blog, I especially love the articles on trolls! They are the bane of the internet, aren't they?

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