Digital technologies have lowered the barriers to entry, and barriers of access, to content. Consumer is Content Creator is Distributor is Medium. A new opportunity has been born.
The market to produce and also to consume has been reshaped. People are becoming more used to having the opportunity to have an input, both into the community around and the feedback loop surrounding the content.
All Entertainment industry output is scatter gun – but only a percentage of it gets watched/read and then it becomes disposable – but now with a digital format, digital distribution, digital platform and digital cognoscenti the content can have a new lifespan/shelflife.
With this comes a new business model, new approach to rights, new approach to commissioning and new approach to royalties. This will not make a silk purse from a sow’s ear – in the end the market will still decide what works – it just means there will be more room for more voices and more tastes.
The key to enabling any of this is to open a two-way channel between the content creator and the customer. The customer can become part of the creative process as well and being able to reward them for this input is important.
Locking your content down and treating the consumer as a passive object to be handed the final product is anathema to the digital age. Be brave and build alliances with the consumer – the rewards are there for those who embrace this new approach.
The question facing the Entertainment industry is quite simple - lock down content through DRM and punish everyone by default or keep content free from a technical restriction and punish those infringing on a corporate scale.
Just because you technologically can doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Technically you can seek to enforce proper speed limits - and save lives – by getting into the engine in every car, but just try it! People accept a certain element of control, with speed limits and speed cameras, but it would be considered an assault on personal freedom to take the ultimate decision from the person behind the wheel. And this is with real lives and real consequences.
You have to have a massive mistrust of the consumer to not believe that ultimately they know the difference between right and wrong. In the 1980s you could get a copy of Microsoft Office with viral ease. Today all the same people happily hand over their cash to Microsoft by the truck load. Nobody ended up inherently believing that they had a right to free Microsoft Office products for life.
Why the Entertainment industry thinks that current crop of digitally-savvy, computer-literate consumers will end up believing that they will have a right to free content forever baffles me.
The way to approach this area is to follow Nolan’s Stages of Growth model: Initiation – Contagion – Control – Integration – Data Administration(read commercialisation) – Maturity
We are at the beginning of a new age and people just want to play and see how far they can stretch their creative muscles.
The time for moving further along the growth model comes when people start to realise that the tools they are playing with are more than just mere toys but commercially applicable components and outputs.
Relax people – when the time comes everyone will make lots of money. The real smart move now is to get your stuff out there for people to play with. There a whole new generation who just want to see where they can go with this digital idea – and most of them are doing it just for the sake of doing it. There is no point in trying to map your existing business models on to their behaviour. They’re just having fun!