The Future of Entertainment – the people formerly known as the audience

I ended my mesh day with a panel of McLean Mashingaidze-Greaves, Amber MacArthur and Ethan Kaplan moderated by Jian Gomeshi.

Jian Gomeshi: Two Sams come to mind. Sam Sniderman or Sam the Record Man as we know him. It was announced this morning that the flagship store of the once iconic Sam the Record Man store will be closing. The end of an era. Things have changed.

So, what’s the biggest change in the last 12 months that will affect the future of entertainment.

Ethan Kaplan: A new focus on the fact that things will not return to the way things were in the pre Napster era. There’s a renewed effort to create a new avenue for the music industry. Different value propositions must be created that don’t try to undermine the direct relationship between the fans and access to the music.

Amber MacArthur: Last year, she was at this conference as a broadcaster at G4Tech TV. This year as a blogger and podcaster at CITY TV. This is an indicator of the trend of movement from the traditional broadcast media to the new online media.

Jain Gomeshi: How valid is the notion that the audience of today is more actively engaged than the audience of yesterday? Are people investing more or less now in their entertainment?

Amber MacArthur: People are dividing their attention. So the length of video clips is decreasing. They also seem to jump ship between things quickly. Facebook is big today. But will it still be big in six months?

Ethan Kaplan: Passive acceptance and passive consumption was a fiction that was maintained by the major media companies. It was driven by hubris. And the notion has collapsed on itself. What’s really happened is that content has become agnostic to representation. There’s a lack of differentiation between the mode of the content. Now fans are more focused on the agent that is originating the content.

Jian Gomeshi: Does the ease of acquiring art, music devalue it or make it more disposable?

Amber MacArthur: Content is available to a global audience. You should try to get your content in front of as many people as you can around the world and then figure out how to derive revenue from it.

McLean Mashingaidze-Greaves: The social network that have grown up around artists show that fans really value those artists.

Jian Gomeshi: How do you get people attached to an artist?

Ethan Kaplan: We’re to the point where we have to embrace the notion that the duplicability of the content and the ready availability of the content has made it necessary to think creatively about how to market the content. Taking Michael Buble, for example. You must treat him as a personality and then market the record as an extension of the personality. The campaign began six months beforehand. No flash Websites. Have a blog friendly Website. Then begin to publish creative elements, such as photos, in the lead up to the release of the record. Treat the release of the record as an event.

Jian Gomeshi: How do you differentiate small, new artists?

McLean Mashingaidze-Greaves: Bloggers have shown that one person with a computer can build an audience. Use the viral tools to assemble an audience anywhere that people gather. Artists can build an audience by using the social networking sites.

Jian Gomeshi: Have the responsiblities of audiences changed?

Amber MacArthur: Artists must now know their audiences likes and anticipate them and respond to them. Tom Green has reinvented himself by actively engaging directly with his audience through his blog and his nightly online program.

Michael Geist: What about Digital Rights Management software?

Ethan Kaplan: DRM is a very small piece of a larger problem, the fact that what you have today is the availablity of both for free and for pay content. The larger issue is how to make sure that artists are compensated along a long value chain that includes any reproduction device.

McLean Mashingaidze-Greaves: The DRM genie is out of the bottle. What’s going on is a little like the war on drugs.