Contemplation: In the Big Medias’ Hands (A brief passing thought or two)

A little less than a week ago Damian Kulash, the lead singer from the band OK Go, wrote a very insightful Op-Ed article for The New York Times.  Kulash’s article, titled “WhoseTube?” examines the shifting dynamics between YouTube in music record companies and the way in which the desire to control content and reap the benefits of profit has come in some ways at the expense of band exposure.  Kulash has offered a simple contemplation of another way in with big record companies seem to fundamentally misunderstand the potential of the Internet (other ways include downloading and streaming music – both of which seem to have been only slowly and reluctantly embraced).

In many ways the follies of the record companies seem to be parallel to similar follies occurring in other Big Media industries, especially ones like print media and film.  The advent of the Internet to mass availability as well as the rapid advances in Internet technology has very much thrown a proverbial stick in the spokes of many traditional media sources (print, music, and film/television).  The Internet offers distributions of information in ways that were never previously possible and its quick growth has taken many of these traditional media sources by surprise, forcing them in many cases to respond more reactionary ways than proactive ones.

I further think it is important to note that it is often easy to villainize the Big Media companies, but that this is not entirely fair to them.  As Kulash points out “But before we cheer for the demise of the big bad machine, it’s important to remember that record companies provide the music industry with a vital service: they’re risk aggregators.”  And while not all the Big Medias are ‘risk aggregators” they do serve their purposes and their desires to stay in business and to turn a profit is not entirely unjustified.  If anything they are just trying to be “good capitalist” (and I fully acknowledge this as a relatively socialist minded individual).

But while it is understandable for these kinds of companies to want to stay in business, it is important that they in turn make an effort and come to the conclusion that the Internet is here to stay, and it may ultimately be for their better interest to try to figure out how to incorporate it well instead of trying to mold it to their outdated ideals of how media businesses work.  The resistence they present, such as limiting the dissemination of information through various services like blogs, facebook, twitter, etc., is detrimental to their overall business, whether they currently realize it or not.

One can only hope that over time things will level out and the dynamic shift will allow for smoother access and information dissemination.  The capability is here, and the users are ready to get using, it seems like the cards are all in the hands of those who own the content.  We’ll see what happens.

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~ by Nathaniel on February 25, 2010.

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