And Jumping Into The Future

The last few posts have highlighted the past, now I’d like to think about a glimpse of the future.  It was inspired by this article in the Hollywood Reporter.

This “Crowd-funding” approach shows how the convergence of several things might meld together in a radically new way that will usher in a new era for artists and creative people.

Even today, with all the disruptive technologies of the last few years, the majority of moviegoers live in a world not markedly different from the heyday of the studios in the 1930’s.  Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, or Michael Bay put out a product made to appeal to a mass audience.

Being made for the masses, it gets watered down to appeal to the least common denominator.  What gets made and how it happens is based on the guesses of a few people who may or may not be competent to make these kinds of decisions.

I see this new approach as a way for the audience to let artists know what they want.  Kind of like patrons of the Renaissance commissioning Michelangelo, but on a micro-scale and available through Paypal.

Suppose I, along with others, am a fan of a particular thing – it could be a historical event, a book, anything that develops a fan base.  And you don’t have to search long to find that there is an ardent fan base of just about EVERYTHING.

Let’s do some math.  Say there are 1 million of us around the world that are rabid fans of Property X.  Probably not enough in any one country or market to justify doing much, on a mass-market basis.  And out of 2 billion or so people with Internet access, 1 million isn’t that outrageous a percentage.

But suppose the one million strong of us chip in 10 bucks each – what we’d conservatively spend at a theater.  That means some filmmaker now has 10,000,000 bucks to shoot a film with, which I tend to believe still buys you a lot of talent once we get out of the Hollywood studio system.  “The Kings Speech” only ran about 15 million to make, so you can still buy some talent for that kind of money, given the right property.

And once it’s completed, we get to download it and own it.  Maybe we restrict it to just those who kicked in, maybe we release it to see if there’s a larger audience.

The point being, you haven’t just eliminated the middle man, you have eliminated armies of middle men.  This micro-commissioning approach, like any piece of commissioned art, gives the patrons what they want, and delivers a ready-made audience to the artist.

File-sharing systems, payment processors, data-farms, and the decreasing cost of production are all coming together to enable things like this.  It’s really just another way of buying a share in something, without all the hassle.

I love to see this type of disintermediation happen, because it more directly connects people.  I also like the idea of getting rid of people who add no value to the chain as well, and let’s face it, that is what most of the “old” economy was based on.

Most of our economic news is pretty bleak, these days, so it’s encouraging to think about new ways of doing old things.  Perhaps a New Renaissance is just around the corner!




2 thoughts on “And Jumping Into The Future

  1. Interesting stuff Harry. The internet is changing the world… and how. Traditional print media and big budget film production companies [quite rightly] need to be worried. But herein lies not only the challenge but the opportunity for the rest of us… where ordinary people can do extraordinary things in print and film without the expensive infrastructure that has been mandatory to date. It opens up greater possibilities and new freshness to an industry which you so rightly point out has by necessity been dumbed down to cater for the masses. Bring it on. I can’t wait 🙂

    • Most of the latest tech stuff is so hung up on “social” that I kind of give it a pass, since I’m just not oriented that way. But every so often you do see a convergence like this that is exciting, because it opens some real doors for people to have viable businesses that just wouldn’t have existed even a few years ago.

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