Sunday, May 15, 2011

What's Coming

If you really want to see where digital distribution is taking us, look at Apple's app store. Volume sales of really cheap media. That is the model that works, at least for now. Some companies (and individuals) are getting rich because they understand the model. Most of the established video game companies are floundering around, and likely will not survive the digital shift, when the package goods market dries up.

Amazon, and the Kindle marketplace, are another example. Some authors are getting rich, a lot more are getting their work out in front of readers for the first time. The big companies are mostly trying to pretend ebooks don't exist. Guess who is gonna survive this little tussle?

Recorded music, where this all started, is a nano-second away from benefiting from all this change. Artists are finally getting smart, realising they don't need a label to put their recordings in front of fans.

All of this change is going to accelerate, rapidly, as we move forward. The tablet market is going to have a huge effect on comic books, board games, and visual art. Better screens, smarter phones, and so on will continue to erode the physical markets for media. And then there's file-sharing.

Peer-to-peer file-sharing is unstoppable, and the death of copyright (as a tool of artificial scarcity) is inevitable. Making money from content will depend on convenience, low price, and easy accessibility. In digital media, scarcity is obscurity. And obscurity is not much of a marketing strategy.

The network infrastructure will improve, or wireless networking will get faster. Processors and related tech will always get more powerful, and cheaper. I'm not sure what the optimal financial strategy becomes in that world, or if the low price/high volume backed up by convenience model will continue to rule.

Rank speculation, and/or wishful thinking: I'm not even sure money will continue to be a useful concept, at least for non-physical goods. Art-barter, anyone? Hmmm...


roh morgon said...

Great post!

My favorite music artists also happen to be indies. Trent Reznor is at the top of my list.

I'm also moving in the direction of indie publishing my stuff. A contract with a publisher right now, with the way things are changing so fast, scares the crap out me - even more than falling on my face self-publishing!

Nice blog - keep at it. I'll be back.

roh morgon said...

Oh - forgot to mention...

I found you from the link you posted in your comment on Michael Stackpole's blog

Marcel said...

Money makes a complex economy possible, so they are definitely not going to disappear. (The problem is worse than exchanging a Picasso for a Monet and a Brahms - it's finding out whether you gained or lost from the exchange, in other words, whether long-term your exchanges are sustainable.)

However, I look forward to seeing how Bitcoin fares as a digital currency, so maybe we'll see interesting times in that area too.

Silver Bowen said...

Roh - I wouldn't say I would never take a legacy contract, but it would have to be way better than what they offer now. Or it would have to be for purposes other than money (like promo for self-pubs.) Not that New York is beating a path to my door or anything.

The good thing is, I've already fallen on my face so many times in previous endeavours. Now it's completely numb! No pain, All gain, ya?

Stackpole is awesome, straight up.

NIN is also awesome, but I'm learning more from Stackpole.

Silver Bowen said...

Marcel - Yeah, just wishful thinking, I know. Money provides granularity that barter can't, so some discreet unit of value besides "all" or "none" is always gonna be necessary. As long as we insist on having an economy anyway.

I was more just hoping that everything digital could just be free. Which doesn't help put groceries in the pantry for the artists, but does make me feel all warm and fuzzy.

I like having money, but I don't really like the concept of money.

Karen Woodward said...

I like the idea of art-barter, that would be interesting.

This doesn't directly relate to your post, but I'm reminded of that children's book for adults, the one that went viral because of piracy, "Go the F--- to Sleep" (check out for May 17th).

Silver Bowen said...

Karen - I'm intimately familiar with the emotional tone of GTFTS. One thing I am interested in seeing is how well it does on iPad and Nook, and if there is a market for other picture books for adults (besides comics, which are exploding digitally.)