Along with writing these never ending blogs, I also write books and play music. I sell my books and music online and I find it incredible that people aren’t willing to pay the price of a coffee for either my album, or my book. I fair slightly better with physical copies, but to all intents and purposes people won’t spend their money on my work, but will happily drop 79 pence on an app about crushing candy.
Obviously this is mainly to do with the fact that no one has any idea who I am, or know how great my work is (I jest) but I am very much a part of a system that is vastly different to the world of even ten to fifteen years ago.
Once upon a time, if you were creative and you wanted to make something, be it a book, or an album, or a film, you simply couldn’t do it and release it. You could definitely sit at a type writer and produce a manuscript, you could buy home studio equipment and record something and you could get a relatively cheap camera and make a film. However, you would be hard pressed to make these to a decent enough quality to be released. You also stood a snowflakes chance in hell of getting it distributed. The internet changed this.
The process of creation has been democratised. We have moved from a model of people wishing to create but not being able to, unless you happened to be lucky enough to have a dad who worked in publishing / TV / Film / etc. To people creating and releasing and then no one hearing about it. In fact the most successful self published musicians, authors and film makers are those that are best at harnessing technology to make noise about their product. We never used to be able to get to market. Now we can put our product on the market, but no one is buying.
So how have we ended up here?
I think it is two fold. One, society has gradually etched away at the idea of heroes. The idea of being on TV is not something special anymore. People don’t gather round to watch Saturday night TV and idolise those they see. We are swamped with input everywhere we turn, no one is special. In fact with the invention of reality TV stars and the continuing uproar regarding celebrity sex offenders, we are taught that the “stars” are anything but.
The second cause is of course the freedom of communication and sharing that the internet has given us. From Napster, through Limewire, to Netflix, YouTube, and uTorrent we can hear the latest song, see the latest TV show, comedian, or film with little more than a cheap laptop and an internet connection. Actually scratch that, you can do it all from your phone. You just need a phone and you are immediately tapped in to the entire world’s worth of media. For free, pretty much.
What happens next I do not know. Netflix is making repeated inroads in to traditional TV viewing, Spotify is nailing the final lid on the coffin of music on physical media. (Although I am intrigued to see what may happen if more of the contracts between Spotify and the remaining three record labels get leaked and artists begin to rail against the service. Will Jay-Z’s gang or even Apple’s soon to be released service be able to make inroads on Spotify’s lead?) Film seems to be carrying on unabated, or maybe even having somewhat of a renaissance. As it is very hard to get the cinematic experience at home, so people will still go to the movies, even if they download the film later.
Will there come a point where people like me, will collide with people like Netflix? A convergence of the amateur and industry. As the traditional towers finally tumble, will we all be able to create the feature film that has been in our head and then sit back and watch it on our VR glasses, in our own custom designed virtual cinema? Or will there be simply so much product in the marketplace that nothing will stick out anymore. An infinite range of brands, styles and genres, each appealing to a smaller and smaller demographic, until none are viable.
I hope not.