Home > All, General Rants > The Future of Digital Content – a Beacon Report

The Future of Digital Content – a Beacon Report

The Creative Industries Knowledge Transfer Network (CIKTN) has just released its final Beacon Report: The Future of Digital Content. The report seeks to explore the challenge to the creative industries by the rise of new media technologies in general and the internet in particular. But it, like so many other similar studies, misses the basic point. It still talks about the role of the creative industries; but the creative industries no longer have a role. In fact, there never were any creative industries — they were merely the publishers for, and leaches on, creative people. Today, creative people can do it for themselves. And they are doing it. New technologies allow the inexpensive creation, and the internet allows the inexpensive marketing and distribution, of ‘creative works’ by creative people. Who needs those big publishing companies that call themselves the creative industries?

They are now desperate companies, desperately seeking something to justify their continued existence and maintain their continued profits. One well-known route is ‘copyright protection’. The creative industries believe that by eliminating piracy and illegal downloads they will return to the halcyon days when they controlled the creative people and took the majority of their earnings. Dream on. Even if they succeed in persuading governments to use draconian powers against illegal downloaders they cannot change the new emerging paradigm of creative people doing it for themselves. This is the ‘threat’, not downloaders. Indy music is fast becoming the most dynamic area of new musical creation – it is no longer the route of desperation for bands that could get no contract, but is increasingly one of choice; and as creative tools get better and cheaper, this will only increase. The same model will apply to all forms of creativity.

Here’s an example of what I mean, taken from this new report:

The challenge is not to defend established business models [brilliant – they’re finally getting it], but to understand where the value lies as defined by the user, and how to optimise experiences around these points [same as it’s always been]. For example, how can record labels seek to monetise the experience and allow the music to act as an advert for the experience [oh dear, here we go again, how can we defend the status quo and maximise our profits from the existing business model?].

Well, they can’t. As Roy Orbison succinctly put it: It’s over. But that won’t stop them trying. There is one particular example from this report that highlights precisely what I mean: Area of Opportunity : Privacy.

One area that offers growth potential is to explore the idea of monetising metadata, where users are ‘paid’ to provide metadata and contextual data akin to a ‘Clubcard’ scheme thereby making the transaction explicit.

monetizing privacy

Let us use your privacy to maintain our profits

That is, you give the ‘Creative Industries’ your privacy so that they can sell it to the big marketing companies for money and in return you get access to the music or films controlled by those said Creative Industries. It’s the same old thing with those companies trying to maintain their existing business model: they own the creative people and all of their creations, and we have to pay through the nose so that they and their shareholders continue to enjoy huge profits at the expense of the creative people and their audience: you and me.

It won’t wash. The times are changing. There is now only one hope for the existing creative industries. It is for them to change their view of ‘owning’ creative works to one of ‘enabling’ creative works. Creative people will no longer be willing to sell their souls and their works to the industries in exchange for promotion and distribution. But they may be willing to sell a percentage of profits on individual works in exchange for help with funding individual works. But attempts to demonize internet users will not prevent piracy, and the reduction of piracy will not delay the new creative paradigm. This latest idea, stealing internet users’ privacy and trying to sell it back to them, is absurd and obscene. Those companies that currently call themselves the Creative Industries need to change themselves to suit the emerging marketplace, not try to change the marketplace to suit themselves.

The Creative Industries KTN
The Future of Digital Content – a Beacon Report

Categories: All, General Rants
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