Movies, Music, and Newspapers

This post by Jack Lail made me revisit a thought that has been rolling around in my empty skull off and on for a while now.

Truth be told, the history of newspapers on the Internet is littered with missed opportunities, wrong turns, and a lack of investment that all seemed smart (or at least prudent) at the time because of the industry’s strong herd instincts.

As an outsider, it seems to me these three industries are facing the same basic challenge. They are industries that completely rely on talent to exist, but whose current business model is centered around delivery, not the talent itself.

People are going to find good music to listen to, good stuff to watch, and good writing to read, and in an open market, the cream will rise to the top. The reality of the situation is that musicians, writers, and actors/directors no longer need the old media structure to be found, all they need is to have talent.

For now, old media has the market on talent cornered for the most part, but they’d better quickly find a way to monetize or they’ll be history.

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Comments

Thanks for reading my post.

I think you’re right that it’s going to be all about talent or quality or usefulness or what satisfies a need. The costs of entry to do the delivery heretofore limited competitors and allowed the creation of a relatively small number of insanely lucrative businesses.

Now, a top-tier blogger like TechCrunch or Instapundit can have an online audience that rivals or is larger than many mainstream media news sites at a fraction of the cost. (MSM costs, however, include their traditional delivery model that’s — and this is the most positive way to phrase it — “in transition.”)

Matt Drudge, whether you like him or not, is arguably the most influential journalist in the country due to the size of the audience his site commands.

Radiohead proves you can move music if you already have the popularity. Now, can you get popular that way? What if Amazon opened their new MP3 service to all musicians much like they do for any publisher? Heck, Paypal or Google Checkout make enabling e-commerce non-geeky.

The virtual book tour and print-on-demand book publishing may mean the same for authors. (I still like reading a book on paper.)

Top magazine talent like Om Malik made the jump to creating successful Web brands of superb writing and coverage before his former employer, Business 2.0, was shuttered by Time.

I’m not suggesting mainstream media companies — the record labels, magazine conglomerates, the Big Four TV networks and newspapers empires — will go away. But new models are evolving and. yes, talent/quality will out. It’s a time of unique opportunity for those both talented and entrepreneurial.

My only doubt that big media can survive lies in the fact that it is so big. I work for a very large international corporation, and I’ve see how slowly things move within them. I think a big factor is the herd mentality to which you alluded in your original post.

Everyone is so scared of making a mistake and being held responsible that changes and new ideas are rare.

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