We reported in September 2011 on the growing trend toward webcasting, by entertainment companies and conference organizers alike, and the doomsayers and anti-futurists predicted at the time that Google and other Evil Corporations would take over, well, everything. Instead, huge numbers of individuals—singers, musicians, dancers, poets, rappers, actors, comedians—have taken advantage of the technology to distribute their own material. The advantages are numerous: A great, transparent business model; no bosses, no censorship, no second-hand smoke; and the money goes directly to the creators, not to or through a middleman. This trend is not just accelerating. It’s at the “goodness, gracious, great balls of fire” level and still rising.
Comedy makes serious money
Comedians Louis CK, Aziz Ansari, and Jim Gaffigan have recently brought big-time media attention to artist-produced programming on the Internet. Last summer (2012), Louis sold all seats on his 67-show tour via his own website, and held scalping to under 1% of sales. He also tallied 220,000 downloads of his “Live at the Beacon Theater” special, which cost $250,000 to produce and sold for $5 each ($1.1 million gross). If you downloaded it to a Mac or PC, you could easily prepare it for viewing on your smartphone, desktop, laptop, tablet PC rental, or pretty much anything with a screen. And Louis allowed buyers to download it “a few times” if they needed to, on the honor system. It worked.
Musicians have also begun to take the self-produced route in recent years. Songstress Ani DiFranco gave some suitably squishy egalitarian-ish arguments for avoiding a “corporate sellout” and starting her own company, Righteous Babe. Fact is, she’s making a lot more money now by leveraging social media and all the full array of CTS (“contemporary tech stuff”) to stay in touch with her legions of fans. You can tune her in, along with Louis and the others, wherever your WiFi- and/or 4G-connected smartphone, Android tablet, or iPad rental can get a signal (most anywhere). Louis CK and Ani are popular, and rightly so, but the term “content” extends to the rest of the verse, prose, audio, and images (still graphics, animation, video) that fill every nook and cranny of the Internet with come-ons, how-tos, and everything else. There’s content, then there’s content.
Everybody slow down a bit
If you hear complaints about “losing money” in the “wider” (or “broader”) digital entertainment market of today, you can bet they’re coming from traditional middlemen. Yes, the Internet has altered (okay, demolished) the traditional ways content agencies, brokers, syndicates, and even TV networks make money. Still, economic data show that, year over year, far more money is entering the overall market, much more content is being produced, and entrepreneurs are finding lots of new ways to create value. Post-production pros working with our render farms and audio pros working with PC-driven digital mixing consoles know how to create the material. That’s because content creators, the actual people sitting at the potent Mac Pro rental workstations doing the creating, must stay updated and leading-edge. They must keep pace with the technology.
“The Sky Is Rising”
If you hear about arts and/or entertainment industries “dying” or “being destroyed,” remember: That’s not it at all. Rather, companies are not rising to meet the new business model and marketing challenges, despite the greater long-term opportunity. Clearly, there are many exciting new opportunities, plural, and just as many ways to succeed. Nothing’s guaranteed in life, but look at the recent trends (as reported in The Sky Is Rising at Techdirt.com):
Entertainment spending as a portion of income: UP15% between 2000 and 2008
Employment in the entertainment sector: UP20%, with indie artists seeing 43% growth
Overall entertainment industry revenues: UP66% between 1998 and 2010
Direct-to-consumer marketing can work for many products and services. It only took this long in the entertainment world because of the obstructionism of dying institutions, old business models, and maladaptive corporate cultures. Economist Joseph Schumpeter had some penetrating insights about “creative destruction” that we will consider in an upcoming blog, insights that will add to your understanding of the powerful forces unleashed by nothing more than the human imagination—as well as the countervailing forces of the status quo, always and everywhere an impediment to progress. It’s the oldest battle on Earth.
If you’ve got a battle coming up—say, planning for a big annual conference—then we’re the best ally you could have. Get the trade show convention rentals and the first-rate advice you need by calling an experienced Account Executive at (877) 266-7725, sending a message, or using our Quick Rental Quote form. However you contact us, we get on the job for you right away. Call today!