The price of creativity
: Greg Beato of Soundbitten.com sends a thoughtful reply to my obvious musings about the lowered cost of creating and distributing creativity — media and entertainment — today.
He says, quite rightly, that though it will be chaper for the creative to create and possible for them to distribute inexpensively, the problem remains: Getting people to pay for creativity.
and i don’t just mean because it’s so easy to copy and then
share digital content. that’s a problem content producers need to learn to live with, in my opinion, just like the software industry does. (of course, it’s probably going to have a bigger impact on content producers than it does on the software industry, because the content industry has fewer opportunities to sell to big institutions and fewer opportunities to sell high-cost service…) another obvious thing that makes online payment hard is a lack of transaction options, the failure to create viable micropayment solutions, etc. Eventually, they’ll figure that out, but the one problem that will always remain is how to make online payment efficient and convenient. People always talk about some coming utopia where fans will pay artists directly and cut out the middlemen, but when push comes to shove, how many listeners/viewers/readers are really going to pay that way? retail record stores may be broken in a number of ways, but imagine if you had to go to a different store each time you wanted to buy a CD or song — suddenly, the traditional retail store seems better than the digital future in at least one regard. obviously, the solution is bundling content — but bundling means middlemen, someone to aggregate the content, market the content, process the transactions….
I agree. There is still a need to sell — then, necessarily, a need to market — content and that is why God created middlemen. We may get new and different middlemen, but we will have middlemen nonetheless.
Still, the mere fact that content can be cheaper to produce means that more people can produce it without having to go through as many middlemen and that efficiency will change the marketplace in fundamental, even revolutionary ways.
I see new, inexpensive ways to produce magazines, online content, newspapers, movies, TV shows, music, books. That means that more people can produce it. That means that there will be more competition. That means that distributors will be able to acquire content less expensively. That means — maybe — that we the audience can acquire it less expensively.
There will still be editors (thank goodness) and distributors and there will still be stars who will still make big bucks (unlike the rest of us). But the fundamentals of the business will change in ways we can only begin to daydream about.
(Read Beato’s complete letter here.)