Archive for May 28th, 2009

The future of entertainment

There are those who say that by 2011, all music will be free, and the labels will offer artists 360 contracts in order to survive (meaning, putting the artists under more financial pressure than they are now). There are those who say that RIAA/MPAA will eventually win, and convince world governments to draconian laws about piracy. And there are those who say that indie/CC art will eventually take over and make RIAA/MPAA irrelevant.

I think that the truth lies somewhere in between all this. There will be 360 contracts, some of the major-label music will be free (but not all), some music will be streamed for very cheap/free in exchange for ads, more laws will take place, indies will become more mainstream via the internet, advertisement will be more evident in art projects, and piracy will continue to exist.

Today, making music is cheap. Mixing isn’t as expensive as it was even just 10 years ago. Making an indie movie is also cheap. When costs go down, more people jump into the bandwagon for the opportunity, over-saturating the market. Currently, the indie music scene is super-saturated with wannabes (and only about 5-10% of all that music is actually good). There are so many indie bands in the Bay Area alone that is not even funny. I stopped counting at around 600. And I personally like only about 20 of them. Don’t even let me start at the thousands of albums released every week on sites like eMusic.

Put all that together, and you will see that all these happenings will weaken the industry. I believe that the last super-star is already being born, and the last Box-Office movie (meaning, $100 mil or more of sales) will be out in less than 15 years from now.

Maybe I am wrong. But maybe I am right. It’s inconceivable for us to think that there won’t be any new super-stars to gossip about, or a new super-expensive movie. But like with any other profession, they all have their time limit, as the circumstances change (in this case, the digital age). For example, being a clock maker back in the 17th Century was something! Being a clock maker today doesn’t even get you laid.

Basically, what I am trying to do with this blog post is to answer to all these other blog posts and analysis articles found on the web that the future of music/movies will be with this or that. In my opinion, the future will be a mix of all these things, which will eventually weaken these professions, and downgrade them to just normal jobs.

This doesn’t mean that music and movies will be dead. That kind of art will never be dead. But they won’t be multi-million products anymore, but smaller projects from smaller groups. It’s not that the digital age killed the industry. It’s just that it put it back in its place. Before the digital age, Hollywood over-capitalized on the whole thing — because they could. Now that they can’t anymore, they will crumble under their own weight. They will still exist, but their golden days will be over. And this is true for the indies too.

Now, some will say, “does this mean that we will never see again an artistic masterpiece?”. And the answer is “we will”. There are many masterpieces in our history written by people who don’t have 10 assistants and millions of dollars in the bank. I am looking forward for these kinds of masterpieces again. All these thousands of wannabe artists will go back to flip burgers at MacDonalds, and the ones who really can deliver will stay alive in the (now crumbled) industry and make a basic salary. But don’t expect super-stars anymore.

That’s my take on the thing, and I am good with such an outcome. The same thing I believe about my old profession btw: developers. The good developers will continue making some good money, but I don’t expect super-stars anymore (e.g. Havoc, Linus, Miguel etc). The vast majority of the programmers of the future will just “write C# for food”.

Google Wave: The Twitter Killer

I just read the article over at TechCrunch about Google’s Wave platform. It looks very impressive, and it seems to be a Twitter killer, and maybe even a Facebook killer (since it brings people together in a more interactive & instant way than Facebook does). However, that doesn’t mean that the idea will catch on, since many good ideas never made good products. But this one might. My real question is, how this will integrate with GTalk and Gmail. Because if it won’t integrate well, it just might not catch on.

Update: How ironic. Twitter is “over capacity” again. These guys remind me of Vimeo: they never managed to optimize their platform.