Thursday, June 26, 2008
Th-Th-Th-That's All, Folks! No More Talk of Media End-Times Yeah, the Sky Is Falling. But It's Time to Stop Mourning the Demise of the Golden Age of Easy Media Profits
By Simon Dumenco
In Medialand, the sky is falling, the sky is falling! No, really, it's totally falling, for real. Every last bit of it -- the sun, the stars, the clouds, the rainbows. And somebody (Google, I think) has even made off with the pots of gold that used to anchor those rainbows. 10 years: Google's anniversary is coming up in September.
We've been getting the news, in dribs and drabs, about the disintegration of traditional media models for how many years now? The chorus of death rattles -- all that gruesome gurgling and gasping! -- is getting to me. So I propose a moratorium: Let's stop obsessing about the lost golden age of easy media profits and just get on with inventing the media future (which will, let's face it, involve lower margins for just about everybody -- except Google!). I'll go first. I'm going to do my best, from now on, to stop writing about any of the following Top 10 Media Death Memes. Wish me luck.
The end of Madison Avenue hegemony. Thanks, Sergey and Larry! (By the way, did you realize the 10-year anniversary of Google is this September? That's right, 10 years ago today, there was no Google Inc. AMC should make a "Mad Men" spinoff about how sexy and awesome things were in the summer of 1998!) The end of (duh) newspapers. Honestly, I can barely stand to read Jim Romenesko's journalism-industry blog anymore because it's like reading the obits.
Actually, the end of all print. Tip of the hat (of course) to Romenesko for giving big play to Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer's pronouncement (to The Washington Post) that "there will be no media consumption left in 10 years that is not delivered over an IP network. There will be no newspapers, no magazines that are delivered in paper form. Everything gets delivered in an electronic form."
The end of the album. The iPod forever trashed our musical attention spans, and no matter how much full-length album auteurs such as Radiohead expect that we'll listen to their Complete Works start to finish, life has become one big random mix tape.
The end of the rock star. Nobody will ever again sell 100 million copies of a record (like Michael Jackson did with "Thriller") or even 25 million (like Nirvana did with "Nevermind"). Ever. Ever ever! Rapper Lil Wayne sells a measly million records in a week and there's practically dancing in the (record-label) suites. With easy money no longer propping up rock-star lifestyles, what will we be left with? More multimedia moguls like Kanye West, for whom music making is just one part of the equation.
The end of broadcast TV. In the future, everybody gets their own on-demand, internet-delivered viewing experience with custom-tailored ad insertions (for when they're not watching the "American Idol" finale on Fox).
The end of media civility. Thanks, apparently, to bloggers. And blog commenters. And bad parenting. The end of journalism in general. Seriously, who's gonna bankroll the bulk of it once the newspaper industry collapses and network TV throws in the towel on the evening newscast? (Watch for CBS to go first, after Katie Couric's successor also sinks in the ratings.)
The end of objectivity. With the death of journalism and the rise of millions of pro and semi-pro opinionists on the web, in the future every media person will be an insufferable partisan.
The end of paid content, period. Wired Editor in Chief Chris "The Long Tail" Anderson has a book in the works that will expand on his recent cover story, "Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business." (Basically, nobody's going to pay for content anymore, so you have to give it away and figure out how to merchandise and monetize everything that surrounds the content.) Cue chorus of the Smiths' "Shoplifters of the World Unite."