Monday, July 07, 2008

The Glass is Half Full not Half Empty!!

Today we read the fruits of ‘Digitise or Die’ in the Bookseller’s report of their conference.

One speaker was the author Andrew Keen who was reported saying that ‘The content business is in crisis’ and needs to fight back against the ‘tyranny’ of free content. However his argument that the potential change of business model in music and newspapers towards advertisement paid consumption is far from logical and shows a questionable grasp of both history and fact.

The recorded music sector is moving towards alignment with advertising, but because its free at consumption doesn’t mean its free. Nor is it the reason behind the chaos in this music sector. Where there is genuine free content, that is down to file sharing and nothing to do whatsoever with advertising. It also worth noting that music is enjoying good times in performance, merchandising and publishing.

The newspaper business has always had a business model heavily skewed towards advertising. Again the changes that are happening here are both complex and challenging. Newsprint is one sector and is different to magazines, serials and business information and to infer they are all the same may be seen by some as naive.

Keen, whose book was called, 'The Cult of the Amateur' is reported as saying that "When you take away the gatekeepers everything becomes crap. Writers don't get rich and famous on their own." He recognises the need to develop talent brand and holistic author offer'.

We are clearly seeing a shift in business models but today no commercial publisher, rights owner or model are based on totally free content. Today is not about Digitise or Die but about understanding and managing digital integration and change.

When you look at the current roles within the publishing life cycle. Simplistically, we see the Author as the content / rights creator, the publisher as the content / rights Manger, the retailers and libraries as the content / rights portals and the readers as the content / rights consumers. We now have to understand how creators get rewarded in a world where the book is just one part of the commercial jigsaw. What does it mean to manage content and how is it different from managing ‘books’. What does it means to be a portal and is that different from a bookshop or library. Finally, what does the consumer value and how does that convert into revenue.


Mark Thwaite said...

You say, Andrew Keen's argument is "far from logical and shows a questionable grasp of both history and fact." Spot on! Welcome to Keen's style of debate.

It is most certainly "worth noting that music is enjoying good times in performance, merchandising and publishing." Indeed, it might be worth considering whether all the free music content out there is actually what is fueling the renaissance in "in performance, merchandising and publishing."

Martyn Daniels said...

Mark thanks for your comments the question of what is fueling the renaissance in other ares of music is a complex and interesting one. Digitised back lists and greater availability are certainly factors but so is the self interestof artists who are now taking greter control or using marketeers who are focused at pushing concerts, festivals, merchandise. George Martin once said that ' the albumn was the menu and the concert the meal' how true. The business modelis shifting away from recorded revenues and the ones losing out are the record companies because that was what they built their empires on.
Again many thanks and i am a fan of what you have achieved at BD.