Is the Internet Ruining Media? Hardly.


In Saturday’s Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth Wurtzel wrote an opinion piece titled “The Internet Is Ruining America’s Movies and Music.” She talks about how both businesses aren’t like they used to be, because of—you guessed it—the internet.

It’s easy to understand why many people in both the music and movie industries long for the good old days. They used to exist in government-sanctioned oligopolies where consumers had little choice in where their entertainment came from. Whether it was the three network TV stations, limited spectrum for radio, or your local theater being the only option for a movie. Here’s a passage from Wurtzel’s article:

In the era of the online music store — even if you buy from iTunes rather than stealing from LimeWire, the problem is the same — no one knows how to listen to a complete album anymore. Everything is slanted toward the hit single. This means that the music industry is oriented toward one-hit wonders rather than consummate musicians, and talent development is just not worth the trouble.

In reality, the opposite is true. One-hit wonders have always dominated sales in the music industry. This won’t change anytime soon—there will always be the megahits in the “head” of the long-tail. Places like iTunes or Netflix allow the obscure musicians and moviemakers to find some kind of an audience. Also, in the past, if I liked only one song from an artist, I may not purchase their album at all. Now, I can at least get the song I like.

In fact, 47% of our gross domestic product involves intellectual property (IP) transactions, and about 6% of our national worth — $626.6 billion annually — is from our copyright businesses. These are the segments of our economy that are suffering, or stand to do so, as a result of the Internet. The Internet, glorious as it is, should be thought of as the plague of postmodernity.

Because the internet (and computers in general) makes it easier to copy things, people like to blame it for destroying intellectual property rights. Yes, the internet has changed the dynamic for the media companies. But technology radically affecting an industry is nothing new. There are many reasons why the internet has changed media for the better. Continue reading “Is the Internet Ruining Media? Hardly.”

3 Great Videos from TED

The following three videos from TED are not necessarily related to business or investing. But you should watch them anyway.

Benjamin Zander: Classical music with shining eyes

Benjamin Zander has two infectious passions: classical music, and helping us all realize our untapped love for it — and by extension, our untapped love for all new possibilities, new experiences, new connections. [See Zander’s book “::amazon(“0142001104″,”The Art of Possibility”)::”].

Chris Abani: Telling stories of our shared humanity

Chris Abani tells stories of people: People standing up to soldiers. People being compassionate. People being human and reclaiming their humanity. It’s “ubuntu,” he says: the only way for me to be human is for you to reflect my humanity back at me. [See his first TED speech here].

Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?

Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity. [This is an old talk, but if you’ve never seen it, stop everything you’re doing and watch it now.]

CES Video Podcasts

Guy Kawasaki points readers to a list of videos from the Consumer Electronics Show last week. The feed includes the keynote speeches and more specific sessions by CES presenters. Below are the links to my favorite presentations. The Bill Gates keynote (very funny) link on the feed is broken, so below is the link to a segment of it on YouTube.

Bill Gates keynote
International Retail Power Panel / Retailers talk about retail trends and technologies (includes heads of Best Buy, Circuit City, and Target)
Chip Heath keynote / One of the authors of Made to Stick explains the concepts of the book.
Michael Dell keynote
Top 10 Technologies You’ve Never Heard Of

TED Talk Videos

The TED Conference (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is held annually in Monteray, California. TED brings together some of the most intelligent thinkers and leaders from across the globe to talk about innovation, technology and other interesting topics. Below I list some of my favorite talks relating to business and technology. Be sure to check out all the other interesting speeches across many categories.

Each clip is about 20 minutes long. Below the links is one of my favorite talks, Malcolm Gladwell on Spaghetti Sauce.

Sergey Brin and Larry Page: Inside the Google machine
Jeff Bezos: After the gold rush, there’s innovation ahead
Seth Godin: Sliced bread and other marketing delights
Barry Schwartz: The paradox of choice
Steven Levitt: Why do crack dealers still live with their moms?
Jimmy Wales: How a ragtag band created Wikipedia
Jeff Skoll: Making movies that make change
Richard Branson: Life at 30,000 feet
Chris Anderson: Technology’s long tail
Malcolm Gladwell: What we can learn from spaghetti sauce

Reality Bytes

So I just finished watching the debut of Dancing With the Stars. I saw a bit of the last season, and I really didn’t like it. But as far as reality shows go, my dislike was nothing out of the ordinary.

However, I have two reasons for watching this season: the first being Mark Cuban. Cuban is an interesting guy. I don’t follow his adventures in the sports world, but I like his blog and think some of his posts are right on the mark (no pun intended). Obviously, I don’t agree with everything he says but I like alternative points of view. It will be interesting to see him on the show. He certainly doesn’t fit in with the other male contestants — but I guess if he enjoys himself that’s all that matters. The second, being Josie Maran — for obvious reasons.

Bureaucratic Innovation

I think the biggest problem with reality TV at the moment is lack of originality. Every show is either a direct copy or a “rhyme” of another (usually successful) show. Is it because the networks are too afraid to take a chance on something new? Or have the creators/writers truly run out of ideas? I have the tendency to believe it’s the former rather than the latter. And that’s just one reason why eyeballs are moving away from traditional media sources and on to new media. More original, more creative content. If and when the big guys do get it right (it happens every once in a while), they have the talent and the resources to do a fantastic job.

Outside the bureaucracy of the large content generators, it’s easy and cheap to try new things. Throw it out there, quickly gauge the public’s response, and either make the necessary adjustments or continue to expand the content. Maximum tinkering and survival in small niches of content on The Long Tail. In my opinion, a combination of both these features — being nimble/innovative and having the resources of a large content generator — would produce the best results (another reason why Google (GOOG) is so successful).