Tim Bourquin from New Media Expo has a must read post up today. Here is a small excerpt:
In the “old days” anyone who was famous in the media had the big bucks that naturally accompanied that fame. But these days, there seems to be a whole lot of folks that are “Internet famous” because of blogging, podcasting, Twitter, flickr, etc. and yet need to ask their audience for donations in order to buy a better microphone. It’s a bizarre and ironic result of the ability for anyone and everyone to start producing content and gather an audience.
I think we just need to be patient and if you look at the history of traditional media you will see lots of similarities to where we are today but more on that later. Tim Continues:
Twitter, blogs, podcasts and new media in general have created a wave of “famous” people – people with a “wealth” of attention and inbound links, but can’t pay their bills at the end of the month. Worse yet, some seem to think that if you do find a way to make your living successfuly, you’ve “sold out” and are no longer true to your audience. That’s a shame and it needs to change.
The “link” and “attention” may be the currency of the Internet, but until someone can show me how to pay my mortgage by linking to my bank once a month, that just doesn’t fly with me.
A commenter on Tim’s blog Trey hit on it, and another commenter Nick touched on it as well. I will begin to play the broken record I have been playing for a couple of years now. We are at the beginning of this “new media” thing. Of course very few are getting rich. (quite a large number are making some kind of money) . Most people in this “industry” don’t even realize they are in an industry. Many of them are just hobbyists with no real aspirations to grow beyond that (like Nick’s analogy to bands).
As Trey pointed out when radio first came along DJ’s weren’t rich, very few musicians were rich in the early days either. Actors weren’t rich when movies first came long. Athletes certainly weren’t. Sure they might have been famous but they were lucky to eek out a living. Sound familiar?
As those industries matured the money came. What brought the money?
First audience then advertisers and sponsorships. Along with those things came producers, distributors, and of course managers who took their cut.
Even today there are bands with very little “fame” who make a damn good living playing their brand of music. While countless others who may have more talent make little to nothing. In most cases the difference is a good business sense or a manager who has that business sense to go along with their talent.
Good content creators are not common, great content creators are rare. There are very few Madonna’s or Elvi, or Harrison Ford’s and a lots of character actors with bit parts or working in commercials. There are hundreds of thousands of musicians playing small clubs or making jingles for commercials and countless waiters out there who consider themselves actors, singers and artists.
In fact it is a testament to the awesome power of new media that so many people are making money or even making a living and in some cases getting rich already. Anyone see the recent list of the 25 most valuable blogs?
Gawker media worth $150 million? Huffington Post $70 million? TechCrunch $30 million? Yes those are subjective estimates but by any measure the owners of those sites are “rich” at least on paper.
What New Media has done is to lower the barrier of entry for all of us. At least some musicians were able to make a living without being “Rock Stars” before new media came along, but radio broadcasters? Actors? Producers? Writers?
No way. You needed to land a job with the local paper, network affiliate, movie studio or land a book deal with a publisher. Not any more. I am not saying we have cut out those middle men, but they are no longer mandatory to success. Now you can be successful on a much smaller scale with very little to zero investment. You can scale your “brand of content”.
That doesn’t mean that all other business rules are out the window. If you believe yourself to be a great content creator who should be rich and famous but don’t know how to make money doing it, then learn or find yourself a manager who does, or go to work for a network that can help you make money.
By the way New Media has opened lots of doors for folks in those more mature industries of entertainment. Quite a few traditional journalists, photographers, etc are now striking out on their own to make a living with new media. BlogCritics, and The Politico would be two great examples of that. Founded by traditional journalists who are now creating and controlling their own content and syndicating it back to traditional media. Sports like MMA that used to be drowned out by the MLB,NFL and NBA have new ways to reach their fans and new doors that may have never opened to them without new media.
So be patient my friends. The money will come and like so many other things Internet related, it will come at warp speed compared to traditional media’s history.