Thursday, March 29, 2007

Advertising - Music - Television - Movies: WATCH OUT!

The text below is from one of the smartest cultural thinkers I've had the pleasure of knowing - and working for: Dave Tutin. (Click on his blog to see it on his site.)

Very insightful about some of the changes that the internet has created for advertising and music and that are now coming to television and, I'm quite sure, movies.

In what seems now like another life, I was once the global creative director in charge of the Oracle advertising account. I was, in fact, the only person from the agency that the infamous Larry Ellison would talk to. I used to fly from New York to San Francisco every other week for two years. On flight 93. Yes, that flight 93! I've never worked out if 9/11 would have been my week. And I don't want to. I'm just grateful to Larry for saying to me only a couple of months before that I didn't need to fly out quite so often!

Larry's favorite phrase which of course made it into our advertising was "The Internet changes everything." We believed it at the time. The entire country (not the world as Silicon Valley believed - parts of which still don't have reliable, uncensored, affordable access to the Internet) was willing to believe it. It was this belief that fueled the ridiculous tech stock bubble of the 90s. As it turned out we were all clueless as to how it would change everything!

OK so we know what happened next. But fast forward a few years and take stock of the situation. I have had a foot in two camps - advertising and music. Depending on who you talk to, both industries are either dead or dying. And it's all because of the Internet. Or more specifically the digital technology that made the Internet possible, that made music easier to record, copy and share.

The music industry refused to accept change. It took a computer company - Apple - to show how money could be made from digital music downloads.

But not the kind of money the music industry was used to.

The advertising industry refused to accept change. It took technology companies - yahoo and google - to show how the new ways of reaching customers could generate revenue.

But not the kind of revenue the ad industry was used to.

Interesting parallel. People say these industries are dying yet there's MORE music out there right now than ever before and there's MORE advertising out there than ever before.

So what is dying? All that is dead is the ability of a handful of people - major ad agencies and major record labels - to bleed the kind of cash out of their audiences (or clients) that they used to.

Long before we had today's technology, music used to be in the hands of troubadours. Wandering minstrels who sang songs. Strangely enough these songs were often the means by which people got their news and information. They were an early form of advertising. They advertised heros (from Jesse James to Robin Hood), they unified beliefs and strengthened common bonds. But nobody did it for the money.

Somewhere down the line we decided that pop stars (and sports stars, incidentally) were worth obscene amounts of money. Which they are not. They are lucky bastards who get to "play" and get paid for it.

So, Larry, I think you were right all those years ago. The Internet has changed everything. But some people are still unwilling to accept it because it hurts their ability to make money, because it has demystified some industries that were based on nothing more than the trick of doctors who once wrote prescriptions in Latin! (Next, I hope we see the tech giants themselves demystified with the earnings of the Ellisons and the Gates' brought back to some rational level!)

When a handful of TV networks held sway over the entire American audience, it was different. When a handful of major record labels held sway over what we heard, it was different. Now these two industries do not know how to deal with the splintering of reality into a world where just about everything ever recorded, filmed or written can be available to anybody any time. And because neither of them can generate the easy money they once did, they think they are dying.

Music and communication will never die. But there will always be things that 'change everything'. And until the major companies that make up these industries embrace change and accept that the days of effortless profit are long gone we will have to endure all this talk about dying - while we listen to the most varied choice of music we've ever had and learn about new products and new ideas in the most varied ways we've ever known.


Jeff Shattuck said...

Malachy, I couldn't agree with you more, Dave's post is brilliant.

Malachy Walsh said...

Absolutely is.

merben said...

Yeah, it is brilliant. This is certainly a great time for any Internet ad agency to be in business. The Internet has a lot of potential and is always growing so traditional forms of advertising and marketing may not be able to keep up.