New Models for Advertising and Art

Doc Searls has an excellent piece on the rise of new advertising models.

So what’s happening here? Simply put, companies like Google and Overture are blowing away everything the old advertising business holds dear. Beautiful images. Attention-grabbing graphics. Awards. Strategy. Even old conventions like branding–a term Procter & Gamble borrowed from the cattle industry, back when they created mass media advertising in the dawn of commercial radio more than 70 years ago. They’re blowing it away by connecting users and advertisers and helping both offer something valuable to each other.

Meanwhile, Dan Bricklin writes about the many ways that artists get paid, including performance, patronage, and commission.
Like Tim O’Reilly, Bricklin writes that mosts artists aren’t famous and would benefit from free exposure. There are many artists who can be economically profitable, if they reach their “natural audience.”
The music and movie industry is shooting itself in the foot by trying its best to preserve today’s mass-media discovery and distribution methods.

A problem with much of today’s pre-recorded media art (such as sound recordings and movies) is the method of discovery. Introduction to new artists and their work is done through advertising, paid placement (narrow radio and TV play lists), and other mass marketing techniques. These are very expensive, and the difficulty of rising above the noise becomes yet more and more expensive. There is a self-fulfilling prophesy where only huge sellers bringing in large revenues are pursued. Small fan bases, even if solid and large enough to fully fund the artist themselves with a very acceptable life compared to other professions, do not fit in this model. A few big hits are viewed as more important than a myriad of small ones, each with a happy artist and happy fans. There seems to be a drive to create a few “superstars” instead of many full-time artists. This is bad economics if in catering to the big players we develop technologies and norms that hamper the “business models” of the smaller players.
Technology is making the cost of practicing many types of art less expensive. For example, recording and editing equipment of high quality that used to cost hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars is becoming something even a hobbyist can afford and use. Manufacturing and distribution of many media forms is becoming almost cost free. Communications to a widely dispersed fan base has dropped to a minor cost as mailing and the need for advertising is replaced with email and web sites. (Discussing this with someone, he basically asked: “Is the Britney Spears model the mainframe of the music business?”)

The dot coms are gone. Change continues, as long as we don’t let the legal system enforce the old ways. The Ottoman Empire strictly limited printing presses for two hundred years.
via David Weinberger and Doc Searls.

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