Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Economics of Abundance

Watch it a few times if it doesn't make sense at first. It's not an idealistic outlook, merely a realistic one. It's actually pretty optimistic, but realistically so. Which is a good thing because we don't live in a world washed with unicorn tears.


Anonymous said...

It's too simplistic an idea. Being in a band, I know this doesn't work. People don't go to shows anymore. The crowds keep getting smaller. And the pay what you want business model for music only works for bands with built in fan bases. Nobody pays for unknown music. They've done studies on it. Most people are content to just stay home and watch bad footage on youtube.

Keith Lango said...

@Anon: Crowds are smaller for some. But you can't just put music out there and expect people to just show up because of your awesomeness. You need to give them a reason to show up. People respond to relationships, real or perceived. If the artists relate and interact with their audience in ways that current tech and culture allows then they build a relationship. Artists who do that are having some success. The concept of abundance economy has been reduced quite a bit in the video. The part he doesn't discuss is what do you need to do to interact with your audience to give them a reason to buy. The model doesn't work if you do things the same old way, make an album or movie, release it and then wait for the crowds to come. In a record label or film studio world this works for artists and creators because they let the corporation do all the heavy lifting of promotion, etc. Of course the corps take the lion's share of the loot, too. For the model to work creatives need to take more responsibility for their own marketing and promotion and for creating a sense of community and relationship with their fans. It can (and does) work, but it doesn't work the same way it used to when all you had to do was get signed by a label, make music and show up when & where you're supposed to. The only way this works is if creatives see themselves as small businessmen. Some folks don't like that.

Paul said...

Good points Kieth.

The unfortunate implications that I get both from this video and from the digital economy is that there are tough times ahead for content producers. Today everyone is producing content. The profits are for the people who help you search, package, and distribute content. Hence - movie studios, record companies, and other media producers are hurting. It's no accident that Google is today's powerhouse company. They don't produce content. They help you find what you're looking for among the mass abundance.

You also have companies like Facebook and Twitter who provide forums for others to produce free content.

I agree with you that it is certainly possible for individual creatives to strike out as entrepreneurs and businessmen. It's what I'm striving to do. But given the overwhelming volume of abundance, it's much easier to make money conglomerating other people's content than creating your own. The only reason I keep on doing it the hard way is that I love it so much.

Joe said...

I agree that having a good relationship with your fanbase (and building it in the first place) is the way to go. Professional web comic artists seem to work this way; they're more personable.

I always figured I'd have to do this myself eventually. Still being in the artistic larval stage, I realized a while back that I couldn't rely on traditional means of distribution, and trying to break into that business was ultimately futile (and way too unpleasant).

David Beer said...

Live gigs as an only solution is simplistic, but others have found more ways. like an musician i just came across, he offers all the songs he has made in the last ten year, in cd quality, for a 1 year subscription for 30 euros,and any tracks he makes that year too. and he offers mastering servies and remix downloads and production advice and free tutorials, and he plays all over the world, and makes interesting jingles for adverts.