If Content Is King, Does It Reign? (part 1)

If you’re a content creator, or are in the business of licensing or selling digital media, no one needs to tell you that the past ten years have been absolutely crushing. To the professional, the challenges have not only been with the dominant rise of piracy due to a lopsided preference in the DMCA toward technologists, but also the subsequent bum-rush of crowd sourcing models which merely increased volume exponentially in the marketplace.

Exploitation of the gaps within the DMCA allowed for models like Napster to find immediate adoption across millions of users, which in turn provided templates for successful subsequent aggregation models across all media types. Content owners were left in the dust, unable to convert piracy into sales or PRO-based royalties (ASCAP, BMI).

In B2B licensing, crowd sourcing models oversaturated the market with content, driving prices down, decentralizing the revenue distribution and reconditioning a new generation of licensors toward buying behaviors that not only dealt with certain price, availability and use expectations, but also the very nature of content – what it looked and sounded like, how it was made.

Movie studios and software industries fell victim, as well. The DMCA and safe harbor allowed for YouTube to build an audience and build its value on the backs of pirated content – a well produced and respected show, developed at high cost and marketed, is going to pull in an audience wider than an anonymous home movie.

So, here we are over a decade of digital content feudalism.  Technology platforms for the purpose of aggregating and monetizing content are still leveraging content for revenue and still highly dependent on it (Pinterest, anyone?), but what leverage do content owners have today? Tomorrow?

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