I mentioned Louis CK was selling his latest recorded show direct to fans for $5 a couple of days ago. Since then 110,000 have been sold. It’s a safe bet that there are more to come, plus there’s always potential for more revenue from streaming and ….gasp…cable and broadcast distribution. Since most comics shows go direct to video instead of through the theater channel, direct to download or direct to stream distribution is the next logical step. And that’s a new channel that Hollywood not only doesn’t control, but one it’s working to undermine.
$5 is a no brainer those who like Louis CK enough to buy a movie ticket or rent a DVD. If the show was distributed that way it would have arrived more slowly, at higher cost, and Mr. CK would have certainly made less:
“This is less than I would have been paid by a large company to simply perform the show and let them sell it to you, but they would have charged you about $20 for the video,” he wrote. “They would have given you an encrypted and regionally restricted video of limited value, and they would have owned your private information for their own use. They would have withheld international availability indefinitely.” (Venture Beat)
The big loser is Hollywood. For entertainers and content producers who are willing to do a little extra work to self distribute, the rewards for themselves and their fans are too big to ignore.
The commercial gaming business shares some aspects of the movie business. Development costs can go sky high with no guarantee of success. Flops often outnumber hits. Like Hollywood, game company management is more often than not at odds with its customers.
While piracy has been on gaming’s radar, it’s suits have been most offended by the lucrative resale market. Once beaten, the complex game becomes less interesting for its player. Since the cost is usually high, it makes sense for the gamer to sell or trade to help pay for the next challenge. Gaming’s suits have held a long standing vendetta against the resale market. That vendetta has brought lawsuits. and schemes like crippleware to thwart the the individual’s right to resell what he owns.
Startup Postgamer hopes to partner with game makers by paying them a portion of revenue to insure used games function like new.
PostalGamer.com, scheduled to launch this fall, will let gamers buy used games and trade in old ones by shipping them to the site’s warehouse in prepaid envelopes, not unlike Netflix or GameFly. In exchange for stuffing PostalGamer’s envelopes into packaging for new games, participating publishers will receive a 10 percent cut of sales generated by their titles from their catalogs. (Wired)
If game publishers buy in, this could revolutionize the used gaming market. There’s also a guarantee that Hollywood, big music and big publishing will be watching. So will the legal profession. These folks will want a cut of the transaction every time their product is resold too. The slippery slope on this one is steep. With the current level of legal trolling, it’s not much of a stretch to see Honda demanding a cut from the sale of every used Accord. The next intellectual property law rewrite could make this mandatory if a little common sense isn’t brought back into the system.
While I hope a solution can be found to the problem of crippleware and reduced functionality in the used game market, this is the wrong approach. Seemingly great ideas often create many more problems than they solve. Common sense dictates that the makers’ cut comes from the original sale. Once sold, it is the property of the buyer regardless of what sort of item it is. Copyright and patent law must protect against reproduction for resale for a limited time. It cannot not demand a never ending tax on the resale of the original item the maker produced. If that happens, we will have moved from a free market back to a feudal tribute system.
In it’s infancy, the length of content on American television was pretty random. Network newscasts were 15 minutes! Try to imagine something like the enormously popular 5 minute or less Les Paul and Mary Ford show of the 50′s being run on broadcast stations today. No way it would happen. This is because TV programming rapidly evolved into 30 and 60 minute time slots than were built to “sell” demographic audiences to sponsors. Oddly enough, the predominant length of sponsored online media tends to be closer shorts for from the 50′s than network TV of today. Demographics are still used, but time of view has become irrelevant and a few minutes seems to be enough to get the job done in most cases.
Until the last decade or so, physical containers played a large role in the length or quantity creative work as it was packaged for sale. With the advent of the LP, “albums” became 40-45 minute long, and buyers were taught to expect that much content for pretty much set price agreed upon within the recoding industry. The industry held to that format through the brief dominance of the cassette tape as #1 format until the CD magically made the standard length of an album closer to 60 minutes. Pressed to fill these vacuums, most artists ended up producing material commonly referred to as filler to accommodate the format rather than amount of outstanding work they could create in the allotted time.In literature, novels were expected to fill a set range of pages to justify an standardized price, in a standardized format. Many an author spent more time adjusting their work to fit this container than was spent composing the work in its spontanious, and most often better length. Most movies run 90 minutes not because this is the optimum time capsule for story telling, but because it it the optimal time for theater owners to rotate viewers in and out of the seats. This length fits comfortably on the standard DVD, further reinforcing the size of the container. Movie producers and directors have longer suffered the battle over how much time they have to tell a story, and length itself has consistently done more hard to movie quality than good.
Enter the world of broadband. Even with lackluster pipes, containers have become irrelevant. Streaming and downloading have replaced traditional containers. For downloads, the average household posses multiple terabytes of storage. Backbone bandwidth has become so cheap the 24 X 7 streaming of high quality content to most households can be done for mere pennies per month. This has created a beautiful chaos of creativity that befuddles the traditional media empires. Musicians offer work by the song, or package in a vareirty of album lengths with prices all over the map from free to pay what you want. Ebooks come in every size and shape. For indie authors the “short” has proven to be the most popular ebook. Generally a dollar or two, shorts are a few rather than many chapters of literary excellence. While a few authors go to the other extreme. many of the longer works often sell better when they are divided into serialized shorts.
Movies? TV? These have seen the most variance in competing online product. Look for this industry to be the most disrupted of all media in the near term as indy producers will become more profitable distributing online versus through the big media channels. Length will vary more widely than the traditional 90 minute moves and 30 to so minutes TV runs. Not only will length be rethought, but I really do believe we are on the cusp of seeing first rate material doing its first run online.
Only today I heard and old media stalwart complaining that attention spans have shortened. If that’s the case now, than maybe it was also true of people living in the 50′s. I think we haven’t changed that much at all. Packaging creative work like chewing gum has never really been a good fit. Those who create are now more free create as they will without regard to how much or how little of a container is required. Freed from the constraints of a container, quality does seem to be improving along with exponential growth of product. When corporate media dominated, the container became more important than the content. The pendulum has swung the other way. Now content is king. Long live content!
Tips from non-journalists are one of the most valuable resources a news organization can have. In recent times, tipsters have often been dealt with rather harshly by both government and industry. Aggressive and invasive investigative entities have made web anonymity almost non existent. Government has also been very aggressive in shutting down sites that make this information public, like Wikileaks. Ironically, the ease of tracking whistle blowers makes it much easier for the pols and suits to conceal their more dubious activities. Persecution is an all powerful deterrent.
The Wall Street Journal is arguably one of the few healthy dead tree news publications and is possibly the only successful paywall operators. I think this is directly attributable to the quality of content and its appeal to an audience that typically has disposable income.
WSJ’s new SafeHouse promises provide a secure way for whistle blowers to submit information. While modern forensics can often identify a submitter without a paper trail, WSJ has a very good record of protecting its sources. Got something? Submit away. I doubt the government will be able to simply shutter the Journal without careful due process.
Really. That quality is more relevant to film than many give it credit for yet here it is. –
The power of Ayn Rand devotees has impressed some Hollywood distribution executives, who took note of the hefty $5,640 per-theater average scored by “Atlas Shrugged: Part 1” during its opening weekend.
“Shocking,” one executive said about the healthy business the low-budget film has been doing, considering its “awful” marketing plan.
Awful or not, business has been brisk enough for producers Harmon Kaslow and John Aglialoro to expand from 299 theaters to 425 this weekend and to 1,000 by the end of the month. They don’t have enough film prints to fill all the orders.
“Things have turned for us,” Kaslow said. “When we started, exhibitors were not embracing the film like we thought they would. Now, we can pretty much go into as many theaters as we want. It’s just a matter of logistics.”
Atlas is tearing up the box office receipts per theater where ever it is shown. Now granted the release seems timed for what is going on in the background for most Americans. Low growth, few jobs, inflation kicking in and intrusive government everywhere.
But there is more than being topical going on here. I would also note that Hollywood has caged itself. If you look at the genre of films produced they follow a few basics — target 16-30 age bracket, generally action/adventure or fools-errand and have at least one top hip actor or actress in the lead. Genres like musical, adult theme, solid romance and suspense are pretty rare these days. So when a film like an Atlas comes out it has a good chance to be a box office smash. That of course depending on a fair bit of acting and a good plot. But the fact that such film genres are so infrequent just ups the attendance for those of us in the over 30 set looking for something with a bit more meat on it.
Passion of the Christ was a block buster yet Hollywood failed to capitalize on it. I presume for political/social reasons. Atlas maybe another that slips through their fingers. A shame really because there is a market for adult dramatic productions and they should be more prevalent on the silver screen than they are.
Blame the recession? Could it be the end of physical media? Or could it be that Sony Music hasn’t added much of anything new to its catalog anyone wants to buy for the last 20 years? My vote is all of the above.
About 300 employees will be laid off once the 50-year-old Sony DADC plant in Pitman, N.J., is closed. Sony said it plans to shift CD-making operations to a facility in Indiana. The company moved DVD manufacturing from the plant about a year ago.
Lisa Gephardt, a Sony spokeswoman said in a statement: “In light of the current economic environment and challenges facing the physical media industry, Sony DADC is taking additional steps to reduce cost from our supply chain network in order to remain competitive.”