Media wars: resistence is useless

So says the FT in its lead editorial today. As it points out the real motif in the second wave of internet disruption is that producers of content no longer control its distribution. It mines the tough lessons that have been learned by the music industry:

These companies spent a long time first trying to ignore online music and then attempting to make it work exactly as they preferred. It took an outsider in Steve Jobs of Apple to devise an attractive new business model and force industry competitors into going along.

There is a second lesson in the music industry: that upheaval does not simply mean destruction. The music companies that have embraced it wholeheartedly are experiencing growth again, albeit from a lower base than a few years ago. The revenue opportunities expand when people can get music when and how they want.

And it addresses a major mistake that many mainstream critics have levelled at the blogging multitudes, which is that the loosening of the distributors grip on content will lead to an upward, not downward pressure for good quality:

The difference is that a harsh spotlight will be cast on content that does not stand out from the competition. In the past, closed networks of distribution gave media producers little monopolies: people bought city evening newspapers because it was the only way to read local news, find out cinema times and scan classified advertisements. That is no longer true.

Whether they pay by watching advertisements or subscribing, people will still seek out interesting and original news and entertainment. Some of it will come to them in new forms, from blogs and other “user-generated content”, but plenty will be researched, scripted and edited in the traditional way. There will be more competition and uncertainty in the new world but some things will be the same.

  • We certainly live in exciting times where everyone has their “15 minutes of fame”. The big multinationals stil call the shots, but any ordinary punter can express their views or publish information online, which can only be a good thing. Salam Pax’s Baghdad Blog recently published as a book, which the author, an ordinary citizen of Baghdad blogs on the events of every day life in the city in the time leading up to the Anglo-American invasion stands out as a striking example of the huge influence of an ordinary individual can have in the new media world we now inhabit.