Airlifting across the creative media chasm


I attended an excellent seminar last night run by the Open Rights Group on the subject of ‘Creative Business in the Digital Era’. I wasn’t sure exactly what I expected to learn there, particularly as the course materials are available on their wiki, but I hoped that there would be some interesting people and dialogue. I wasn’t disappointed :)

What emerged was a discussion about the tension between ‘community’ and ‘brand’, and the place that an individual artist can carve out for themselves. There was some argument that ‘brand’ was a relic of some broken old school marketing theory that no longer applied to the Web 2.0 world of today, but I’m not entirely convinced by this (or maybe just too brainwashed into the ‘7Ps‘ point of view).

It seems to me that in the context of creative media that ‘community’ is not ‘scale free‘ (a term that the community around the web science research initiative [WSRI] seems somewhat obsessed by). Whilst an artist might be able to make a comfortable living with 1,000 true fans, it seems that 10,000 fans doesn’t bring a more comfortable lifestyle, or 100,000 fans make an artist rich.

There appears to be a chasm between the artists like my friend NLX that can get by doing gigs for what’s in the tip bucket and selling CDs for $10 (where I hope they get about $9 in their pocket), and signed artists who get a few cents for each CD but sell CDs in vast enough numbers via big media company big marketing budgets. The only way across this chasm looks like getting a lift over – planes and helicopters courtesy of the big media companies.

So… why doesn’t the community around an artist scale? Why can’t Rieser get rich by selling £7 CDs from their web site to people who loved their part in the BloodSpell soundtrack (I love the contrast between their gritty ‘I want to be a Rock Star’ and the studio polished ‘Rock Star’ by Nickelback)? How will anybody even become a rock star if/when the studios get crushed under the heel of sticking to a failing, ailing business model where they treat their customers as criminals with DRM and go around suing kids?

PS My journey to finding Rieser is something of a web 2.0 parable. I like Science Fiction, and I’m a big fan of Charles Stross (particularly Accelerando). Charlie’s blog had a plug for BloodSpell, so I took a look.What I found had pretty rough graphics, a story line that held my attention to the end, and some great music…

PPS I didn’t intend to take more than 6 weeks away from blogging. I just got kind of busy.

3 Responses to “Airlifting across the creative media chasm”

  1. Nice writing style. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Chris Moran

  2. Pleased that you found it interesting and hope to keep in touch. Thanks for playing your part last night :)

  3. 3 alexis

    Chris, just to show what is possible with the right, er…, publicity:

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