On my way to work, I was listening to a podcast interview/discussion with Lewis Black, one of the greatest living stand up comedians. As he discussed various aspects of his career trajectory, Black inadvertently discovered a heavy truth. He said how if someone really wanted to make money, he/she just needed to figure out a way to rise above the noise and make sure that advertising could get through the various pipelines of the internet. In the old model of media, regardless of whether the medium was television, films, literature, etc., companies would pay other companies to advertise through their creators/creations. It wasn’t a simple or perfect system and it did not ensure that the best material was shown, but there was some semblance of order within the convolution. You paid a certain amount of money to get on so many information waves to be seen by X number of people.
That was the old system. Now, we exist within the wild, wild west of the Internet. Anyone with an idea, a decent computer, and the will to do so can create engaging and entertaining stories and art. I am not saying it is easy, merely that is far easier than it ever has been before. Of course, this does come with a downside. There are literally thousands of hours entertainment uploaded just to YouTube everyday. If we include the stuff that can be found on other popular sites, there is no possible way to consume it all. So the big question becomes how to rise above the fray and shine your genius amidst the ever expanding miasma of the Internet? After all, most of these independent creators do not have the backing of an established system to create advertising or other avenues to get noticed.
Like most things online, the new model revolves heavily around d.i.y. (do it yourself). Thus, artists now have to wear various hats besides that of creator. They are advertisers, managers, content organizers, producers, editors, and pretty much involved in virtually every possible aspect of production. While this has undeniable benefits like creative freedom and more direct profit for creators, it does also become a daunting task to create anything. Even more so when after its creation, you try to get eyeballs to watch it.
The preceding diatribe all leads to this quandary: how does one promote their work without seeming arrogant, prideful, or seemingly bashing their intended audience excessively on their heads? I have always believed in the cliché that the cream rises to the top, but can anything worthwhile really push through the massive amount of information that the world now produces? More importantly, to what extent should the artist influence this ascension and through what means? I have to believe that there is some happy medium between creation, promotion, and everything that comes in between. After all, artists want to create and to have their creations seen, we just now have to figure out the best way to do so on our own without depending on an established system. It is truly the wild, wild west and most of us just want to make our homestead and share a beer with our fellow pioneers.
(I apologize for those keeping along for the Wednesday posts as they seem to develop more questions than answers or conversation. I can’t promise that this will change anytime soon as trying to discover answers tends to lead to more queries, but hopefully you find this somewhat entertaining enough to engage with and possibly provide your own viewpoint.)