Main | Chapter 2: Copyright in the Age of Uncontrolled Distribution »

October 01, 2007

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Joe Bennett

The economics of the argument work brilliantly from the PoV of the consumer and the network/service provider but may have a flaw - or at least we may see a change - in terms of content creators' income. The much-discussed 'long tail' principle of a large amount of content spread very thinly means that a substantial (electronic) administrative infrastructure would be required to track content for the purposes of distribution the 'invisible' income to creators.

Further, there are some types of media/artform that this model might not support. An obvious one is the multi-million-dollar Hollywood movie - high production values currently feature as a result of massive investment. That investment is a result of a greater projected recoupment - through ticket income and expensive unit-based DVD sales. It may be, then, that very high budget media content might become a thing of the past, just as the grandiose 'year-in-the-studio' 1970s album has naturally died out due to market forces & economic Darwinism.

The cultural model - of a small amount of high-production-value content appealing to a global audience - shows no signs of dying out. We're not seeing a large number of home-made albums becoming globally popular, for example.

So the question is - if the End Of Control economic model is inevitable (and I believe it is) what will this mean for the careers of content creators? And will the levelling of distribution lead to dilution and reduction of content quality?

Ignacio Rodríguez

For months now I have been following the happening of the music industry, trying to leverage my experience on the web (I have been involved in web-based media during the last 10 years but I am sound engineer), trying to make heads and tails of it all and understand where it is all going. Your writings not only confirm some of my hypothesis and offer through your creative thinking additional and innovative points of view, you are also managing to present it all in a systematic and easy to understand way, just what I needed, just what we all need, all of us that love music production and wish to remain part of this industry. Thank You very much for this wealth of insight you are providing for free. My best wishes.

Gerd Leonhard

Joe - good questions, and sorry it's taken so long to get back to you. Yes, I think the control-loss is inevitable, and I don't think it will lead to dilution and quality reduction. The admin of flat rate income would actually not be that costly, at all - I think a smart software company could do this for 2% of the funds - after all, this is basically an IT job. And as to the large budget movies and records etc this would not be a threat at all - if they get millions of people clicking / watching / listening, they would get millions of 'credits' for those uses, too - i.e. they would get paid exactly proportional to actual ATTENTION. Large audience large attention large use large income = large budgets for the next show. Read more at www.musiclikewater.com

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