Wanted: New Media Business Models
What we’re seeing on the Internet right now is a major upheaval of business models, a revolution that’s going to be viciously fought from both sides, by the newbies disrupting everything, and the old-world powers very upset at how the newbies are breaking down what were lucrative barriers for them.
That high marble tower the newspaper industry used to peer down from is crumbling. The music industry, or should I say last century’s music industry, that acted both as boon and filter of music, is also facing demise. No longer can a mighty few decide what is news for the masses to consume, and no longer can they decide who becomes an overnight sensation. After they spent billions, years, and enormous amounts of clout conglomerating and streamlining, the media world suddenly decentralized under their feet.
It wasn’t just that the audience got tired of packaged news and packaged music and packaged choices—they did tire of that, relatively quickly—it was that the Internet provided the autonomy media companies had actively blocked. And they’re still trying to block it, still trying to turn it back to the old way.
I hate to quote a Vogon, but resistance is futile. They need new business models, not to reinforce old ones.
While they figure that out, it’s good news for upstarts, locals, small ventures, and nimble, creative types the old media world effectively blocked out in the past. The new guys are understanding and taking advantage of sites like YouTube. The decentralization YouTube spearheaded floods the market with competition, which something conglomerates over the years worked very hard to push away.
It’s their own fault. A music video is essentially a three-minute commercial for a band. The second the music industry start treating these promotional vehicles as anything but what they are was the minute people started rebelling. YouTube and sites like it just add another promotional channel and a very effective one at that.
That’s why I like this story about a Denver-based singer who says YouTube helped him go from playing tiny blues bars for, at most, hundreds, to playing for thousands. Joe Bonamassa says fans go to YouTube to check out local artists before wasting their energy to see them live. Meanwhile No Doubt gives away downloads with concert ticket purchases, and Lamb of God sells commerative CD/USB/Vinyl packages with tracks separating out drums, bass, and guitar for those who emulate them.
That’s innovation, man.
It’s starting to become hard to remember that it used to be different, that bands and musicians had to trek around in the wastelands of obscurity, hoping (usually in vain) to be discovered by some music giant. If that never happened, so many gave up to go into real estate and insurance sales—I’ve certainly known my share. One wonders if they’d taken the same route if they’d had the advantage the Internet is giving musicians just ten (five) years later.
And that’s the point. Those barriers are gone and good riddance.
Hat tip to TechDirt.