Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Was today the beginning of the end for media?

I'm not surprised that journalists fall over themselves to get tickets for Apple's product launches. At the moment the company has that combination of charisma, excitement and surging forward motion that I felt on the day when Sgt Pepper came out.

It's journalist who create this. When the history of this era is written they will conclude that Apple's grip on the popular imagination had less to do with massive advertising campaigns than thousands of opinion formers all arriving at the same opinion. By that time most of those opinion formers will be out of work because the value will have passed from those skills that were formerly called "creative" to those that were formerly called "technological".

On the day that Apple unveiled its new iPad novelist Linda Grant tweeted that she had lunch with her agent who tells her that within five years "no-one, not authors, agents or publishers will be able to make money out of books". It's the same day that the papers report that Randy Newman, interviewed at the Oscars, remarked that getting into the music business today was like breaking into a bank that had already been robbed. It's also the same day that Rupert Murdoch made it clear that anyone who was worried about the future of diversity in news providers could take Sky News off his hands, operating losses and all.

He knows what Steve Jobs knows. That the value right now is in the pipe, not the stuff that flows down it. You'd have thought more journalists would realise.


  1. The pipe will become worthless if nothing is flowing out of it.

  2. To continue the analogy: most pipes go underground and we all know what flows through them.

  3. Plenty is flowing out of it, but it's all tending to being user-generated, free, or very very cheap. The same conversation is going on in telecoms, where the big carriers agonise about being reduced to to 'bit pipes' who get no 'added value' from apps and content - seemingly disregarding how very little value there is in apps and content.
    Good post, and that Randy Newman quote is a gem. I shall be 'borrowing' it soon...

  4. This may be pertinent:

    The world will still consist of (a) those who own the pipes and consequently get seriously rich, and (b) those who create stuff to go through the pipe and emerge the other end, some of whom will get rich, some of whom won't. The difference will be the disappearance of those who stand at the entrance to the pipe and decide what should go through it. Possibly.

  5. Real talent always finds a paying audience. There will always be authors; the really good ones will make lots of money, and some really rubbish ones too. The platform is irrelevant.

  6. Maybe, just maybe, something like this will work out.

    And before you ask, no, I have not subscribed yet - but it looks likely I will get over the purchase hump.

  7. I actually think such technology will make it easier for good authors to make money. Social Media will act as agent, distributor and advertising, all for free, and althought he cost to the consumer will be lower, the removal of infrastructure may allow good artists to make more money.