Saturday, January 31, 2015

the new media

Well the new media is not so new, of course.  But this blog post by Mike Shatzkin, along with this CBC News article and my discovery of Daniela Andrade and the whole indie/online music scene got me thinking about the rumbling, rolling ongoing earthquake in the creative world.

Firstly, here is Mike Shatzkin's blog post: No the Big Five are not a Cartel by Mike Shatzkin
Secondly, the CBC article:   Indie Music labels and streaming music
Thirdly:  Daniela Andrade:  Daniela Andrade on YouTube

Mike Shatzkin, for those who do not know of him, has been reading books on mobile devices since the days of the Palm Pilot, but  his working life over five decades has been and is spent in various capacities, mostly advising,  for large publishers - usually as an expert on sales and marketing though his first job was working in a book store. He argues in this blog post that the big five publishing companies are innovative and reactive to new technological realities and more importantly do have the author in mind. Probably true,  as true as it can be for a large company heavily invested in old technology (print).  Where my eyebrows went up, was where he admitted that the acquisitions editors for big publishing companies, and their various imprints had no interest in books that would only sell a few thousand. They are, he admitted, mass market book factories (my term, not his).  I suppose this is his way of explaining why so many subsequent best sellers had a very hard time finding anyone to publish their first novel. This is a very long list.  Today, self-publishing in the eBook world, or even as print books for Amazon or Lulu, means none of these potentially classic books are missed or overlooked.  But, my point is that he admits his clients, the big 5, are interested only in mega sellers.  They are thus leaving out the vast majority of authors - probably the 99%.  This tells me they have yet to figure out this new world.  and 'they' in this sentence include the big name authors as well as their publishers. Anyone today can be both author and publisher all rolled into one and the big authors and big companies do not like this.

Now why did I link to the CBC article on indie music labels being hurt by streaming? Well, again, it is a case of the big names, both musicians and labels against the new technology.  The indie labels are small enough to be flexible and find a new place in this new media - which if you read the article carefully, you find they are doing.  The big labels stick DRM onto their product and the big artists complain publicly about piracy.

The third article presents a truly indie artist - a young, talented woman who has eschewed the old way of making music and becoming known entirely.  She makes her own videos and shows them on YouTube, or puts her music freely on SoundCloud.  She gets tens of thousand and even hundreds of thousands of views and downloads, all free. She then can sell to those who wish to pay.

The point of all this goes back to a discussion I participated on in Linkedin a few years ago. In one eBook group, someone asked:  If you could tell the future and you knew you would never make a living writing, would  you still write. Of the roughly two dozen who replied, only two of us said yes, as we had to write - it was a compulsion, it was part of who we are.  The remainder, the vast majority said, no, we would find some other line of work and stop writing.

It seems to me to be there are two types of creators:  those who must create, whether that be music or writing (or I imagine any sort of art) and those who have an ability but are in it to make big money only. With this new media, there is now a rumbling and a rolling of the earth underneath the feet of the big 5 publishers, the 1% of big name authors, the big recording labels, their main artists, which hides from them  an entirely new world of creativity being presented to the public, under their noses, which sniff disdainfully.

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