Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Great White Hope of Indy Animators: Part 3b

picked up from 3a...

Do you think Warner Brothers releases those Looney Tunes DVD collections as a service to mankind? Or that Disney’s Treasure series is a humanitarian effort spearheaded by a revered and kindly old Roy Disney? Please. They do it because there are people out there who LOVE this stuff and who gladly buy it by the truckload. Some may say “Well those are time worn classics. That’s different.” OK, so what about Pixar’s shorts on iTunes? Who here grew up blowing out their eyesight as they sat perched 10 inches from the TV screen, munching on hyper-sugared cereal every Saturday morning watching “Red’s Dream” or “Tin Toy“? Nobody. Yet those things are still selling. Additionally, you can get a 44 minute episode of ABC’s hottest TV show LOST on iTunes for $1.99, but Disney’s seven minute film from 1938, The Brave Little Tailor, sells for the same $1.99. What? People will gladly pay more per minute for animation? Why? Because there a lot of people who highly value top quality animated content. Thus I propose that there is a definable, sizeable and eager audience market for animated content. I just think that market is under-targeted and underserved. Yes, iTunes is serving and has targeted that market, but within a very narrow band of content. What if a smart online gatekeeper took the time to learn and understand a given audience sector and aimed directly at them with skill and precision? What would their thought equation look like? How about this:

Content does have value to end user audience members. There are definable, quantifiable and existing ‘taste niches’ that do exist. The best way to maximize the harvesting of the inherent value is to focus on a high-percentage target with content suited to that niche’s proven tastes.

Who is thinking like this? What gatekeeper has their business model built on this thought equation? Is it an invalid equation? Is this all just fairy dust in Trebuchet 10 point? I don’t think so. So far we’ve proven that yes, end users do value content. And we have given good reason to presume that a definable market for animated content exists. The thing that remains is to meet the needs of that market. Instead of trying to make an online content delivery system that appeals to all tastes in order to make a profit and subsidize the sizeable infrastructure of such a system, why not niche target an audience, focus in on their tastes, find a way to advertise to them, draw them to your site and see if you can’t get a higher percentage of paid downloads as a result? The server load per dollar spent is far more profitable on a 7-minute short film than a 44-minute TV show. For the same dollar revenue you can cut your infrastructure costs by 80%! True it’s not as simple as all this, but it does make some sense, no? It is possible to think smaller and end up getting higher margins in the process. Thus my statement above that a big part of the problem is the tendency toward a global approach. It’s a kind of disease and it’s seeped into every area of our commercial lives it seems.
Why is a business today not valid or viable if it doesn’t try to conquer the world? Why is it a bad thing to serve a target niche of customers and meet their needs in a highly pro-active and meaningful way? It’s a much kinder, less ‘corporate’ way to do things. There’s no need to have every gatekeeper try and be some Genghis Kahn of the media business landscape. Why not have a few smaller sovereigns? What’s so bad with being a Luxembourg in this whole thing? There’s an old saw that says “All politics is local.” I think the same is true here. “All taste is personal”. But there are people who share these tastes. So meet them in a more personal way and let them know you’re here and give them something they’re highly inclined to buy. In a metaphorical sense, let’s do away with the ‘hair salon’ in the cold, faceless cinder-block hell we call Walmart. Bring back the corner barber shop where all the guys know each other and watch baseball together. So to speak.
So now I’ve laid out a possible business plan for a kinder, gentler, more targeted gatekeeper (there still remains a number of side issues with this, but I can get into them later). But that still doesn’t address the initial problem- how does an independent animator hope to make a living from their work?

One word: Mosaic. Huh? You guessed it, part 4 coming right up!

Til then all feedback, death threats, attacks on my sanity and words of glowing support are all welcome in the comments section of the bar & grill.

1 comment:

Keith Lango said...

original comments here...