Exploding media: creativity
: For me, the lesson I learn from the announcements last week that podcasts are coming to Infinity Radio and Sirius is that big media is adopting citizens’ media faster than I ever would have predicted.
I’ve said that what would make big media pay attention to citizens’ media, in the end, would be economics: We, the people, are creating compelling, valuable, addictive, fresh content at a lower cost than the big boys with all their big ways and big costs. And as the big boys’ audience and revenue shrink, they will turn to new ways to make content and save money.
I thought this would take time to happen — as it has taken time for mainstream media to decide that they wouldn’t get cooties reading blogs. But I was operating in the wrong world, on the wrong timetable. Mainstream media journalists have been slow to accept or at least acknowledge citizens’ media because they operate in a priesthood, a club closed in by its standards and rules, and they don’t want to change any of that and allow new members in.
But radio is entertainment. It is a business. There’s no hooha about professionalism and higher standards. Hell, just look at prime time. Listen to radio.
So along comes content that is new and getting an audience and — best of all — cheap or even free, and you’ll see guys in suits slap on iPods and webcams faster than you can spell EBITDA.
But this raises two issues, two cautions:
The first is podcasts and vlogs are new, really new. Their potential is limitless. But at a year old, even Mozart couldn’t play chopsticks. They have not begun to reach their potential. So I worry that Infinity and Sirius will slap on lots of podcasts and we’ll immediately read the reviews from big media snobs that it’s all tedious crap. Or a lot of it may actually be tedious crap. And then it will all be dismissed as a fad, a bubble, a nothing. And I don’t want to see that happen. And the fate of this media merger is in the hands of Adam Curry and whoever is programming YOURadio and Current.TV and I have hope that they will do more than just slap up any old multimedia blather. I know they will pick the best they can find. I also know that the people will make great stuff to try to impress them and get the attention. But the programming directors here — inserting themselves into a new medium where programming directors are an oxymoron — need to do more: They need to encourage and support the best. And that leads to the other issue…
The big guys can’t just exploit the citizen-producers and take the stuff for free. They need to find value in what they create and pay that value not just because it’s fair but also as the way to support the creation of great new stuff. The creators need to realize, in turn, that they’re not going to get rich overnight doing this, not until someone proves that audience and advertisers will make it profitable. And there are new ventures being started by not-so-big-boys that aren’t making any money yet. But this has to be seen as a partnership or it won’t work.
If it is seen as a partnership and if it does work, I’ll now bet you’ll be hearing your neighbor on some form of radio and seeing your coworker on some form of TV just as you are reading your friends in this, some form of publishing, sooner than you can imagine.