Maybe I’m the only one, but when I was a kid I was VERY concerned with intellectual property. Once I drew a picture and mailed it to a friend, being generous enough to include the terms of a possible licensing agreement on the picture itself. Needless to say, I have yet to collect a nickel of royalties.
Hollywood is today not too different. They send us pretty things price-tag up with a warning label on the back.
Today’s audiences are omnivores. We expect our content to be platform agnostic and instantly available.
Today’s artists are re-creators. Whether reframing an image to shape an electoral ethos, tinkering with existing technologies for the sake of irony, or remixing friends’ cell phone videos, artists have the incredibly powerful gift of communication through re-creation.
Today’s corporate content creators want to SELL their products. And they are trying harder than ever to make it happen. They are throwing everything and the kitchen sink at the audience IN 3D. But they’re not willing to meet the audience on their territory.
To be fair, the members of the corporate content creation universe, most of them members of the MPAA and RIAA, are in a tight spot. They depend on billions of dollars in revenue each year to keep stockholders smiling (or at least keep the money flowing). For the last 35 years, the blockbuster was the best way to maintain an Amazon level cash flow.
Perhaps international audiences and people 55+ are still happy to engage the broadest of the mainstream (cf. NCIS), but the future of entertainment is clearly not in the billion dollar cash flows. It’s in the million dollar cash flows. Or smaller.
I won’t go so far as Kim Dotcom and give the one-finger salute Hollywood outright. But I will say that all the time and effort that Chris Dodd and friends are throwing into personal attacks and terrible legislation (SOPA, PIPA, CISPA) is not only harmful to our country’s economy, but mostly to themselves.
Young audiences don’t want to swim in the big river all the time. Artists are getting much more comfortable with innovative content licensing. Targeted content is finding a new way to reach viewers almost every day. With box office revenue declining two years in a row and ticket sales trending sharply downward in the last decade, corporate content creators are watching the Amazon shrink and fork into literally a million tributaries.
So why not throw all that muscle into true innovation? With the amount of waste in their methods, surely a few million (or even a few hundred thousand!) would not be missed. There is still so much room for innovation in making content more conveniently available, let alone crazier things like interactive video. And if these efforts were to catch even just a few of those tributary streams of cash, they’d gain more than just money. They’d gain access to a growing audience.