Monday, June 24, 2013

Kill Ugly Radio

Commercial radio digs its own grave, as Variety observes: RIP Radio. But this is all just part of a larger, heinous trend. As I said long ago, our society made the risky bet of subsidizing nearly all of our intellectual and cultural life with advertising—under the assumption that advertisers would calmly stay behind an invisible wall and not dictate content. Advertisers did, of course, resulting (across media platforms) not only in barely disguised advertorial—but more subtly—the fragmenting of media content into increasingly narrow micro-audiences defined by demographic niche. This, of course, is a recipe for boring, banal, gutless content. Or loud obnoxious content that merely confirms the prejudices of its viewers/readers/listeners. This paradigm kills the space for creative risk. In radio, DJs don't get to play new releases—those decisions are all made by program directors. In TV, there's no time for a struggling show to find its legs (as the original Star Trek did in the old days). In movies, blockbusters that EXACTLY COPY the last blockbuster. Etc. Now, a new paradigm emerges. Writers, musicians, photographers, filmmakers and journalists all work for free or next to nothing because they're idiots. (One in a million breaks through—but it’s as rare as winning the lottery.) Users don't pay for content—but they willing pay through the nose to the owners of the content pipelines.
Welcome to the machine.

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