Thursday, March 19, 2009

Startups: Solve Entertainment Distribution

A lot of people whine about the entertainment industry or dis it, but I don't see anyone proposing a valid alternative. You look at papers vs. blogs, blogs are a clear winner: more up-to-date, more honest, more diverse, more economically efficient; better in every way. What do we have to replace Galactica with? YouTube? This shit isn't over yet. Hollywood business models are in trouble, but Hollywood content isn't.

We knew blogs would kill papers, we knew mp3s would kill CDs, and we know TV's next to go. But you still hear the same old crypto-anarchist bullshit from a lot of people when it comes to the future of TV. It should all be free; the middlemen will disappear; and in particularly egregious cases, artists shouldn't ask to be paid, they should just be happy anybody pays attention to them at all. I love motherfuckers who say that shit. They make me laugh.

If you want to find serious coverage of this problem space, you won't see it anywhere on Hacker News, Proggit, or TechCrunch. You have to go to the Hollywood Reporter. That's crazy. The Reporter's a good paper, but it shouldn't be the only one covering the space.

You know what else is crazy? I was building a Web app for the entertainment industry not long ago. I can't tell you what company, because Hollywood still suffers from a terrible infestation of paranoid lawyers, but I can tell you that a very prominent marketing guy told me he thought it was a dog, while TechCrunch mocked it day in and day out, calling it ClownCo and refusing to take it seriously. I can also tell you that it's awesome to see Superbowl ads for something you built, and it's also awesome to see Twitter love every day for something you built. And even though everybody knows TechCrunch are a bunch of idiots, it's still great to have proof.

Tech press doesn't cover entertainment and it doesn't understand entertainment. But there is a shitload of money just sitting there begging to be taken. Think about mp3. Napster went down hard. Everybody cried "injustice!" and threatened to rise up in rebellion and the RIAA just shrugged and kept extorting money out of people for file-sharing - even grandmas who didn't own computers. Nothing happened, until iTunes sauntered over and seized control of the music industry by default.

Startup people, wake up already! There's opportunity sitting there right in front of you and you don't even see it.

How will film-makers monetize entertainment in the future? Who will distribute films and "TV"? How will talent get paid? What do you do when there's huge demand for something but its distribution no longer has a business model? Do you shrug your shoulders and assume it'll all be free in the future? If there's anything more sci-fi than the idea of Megan Fox working for free, I don't know what the hell it is. We'll all be doing our daily commutes via jetpack before that happens.

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