They’re everything in the modern world. Unless you attach yourself to someone/something that already has an audience, your chance of succeeding is incredibly low, because there’s just too much noise.
So, despite the bitching about challenging economics, that’s the power of the newspaper. It’s filtered news. And ads. And listings.
Most competing with traditional news outlets are amateurs. They’re bad writers in an era where no one has time for that. So people gravitate to those who already have the power.
That’s the magic of the “Huffington Post.” It’s link-bait on steroids, but it’s got an audience. Same deal with “BuzzFeed.” The rich get richer and the poor are irrelevant.
Is the entertainment of today. In an alienated world, we all have a desire to belong. Pre-internet, when we lived in a monoculture, going your own way, going deep into your own niche, was a badge of honor. Today, you’re just irrelevant. And this judgment hurts. If you’re rebelling and those you’re rebelling against don’t care, don’t react, then you feel alone. Which is why we all desire to be part of the scene. That’s why we post on social networks, we want to belong. And the glue is news. It’s what we talk about. Whether it be Charlie Hebdo or the shenanigans of some celebrity.
Children believe that school is the world. Their ignorance is bliss. But this hotbed of sharing helps parents be clued in. But if you’ve got no children, or you’re out of school, you’re hungry for information, so you can have discourse. Sure, you could discuss the obscure record or TV show…IF YOU COULD FIND SOMEONE WHO’S HEARD IT OR SEEN IT!
NUMBER ONE AIN’T WHAT IT USED TO BE
Whether it be the weekly winner of the movie grosses or Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space,” you can read that something tops the chart and never encounter it. This never happened before. The hits were ubiquitous. But television ratings are a fraction of what they once were. And you never have to listen to a radio station you don’t want to, never mind the commercials. In other words, Kanye West is more famous for his inane outbursts of superiority and being married to Kim Kardashian than he is for his music. Most people know Kanye is a boasting boor, but they don’t know his music.
INSULARITY IS KING
When life becomes incomprehensible, when you feel powerless with no hope of upward mobility, you trumpet that which you are into, believing that others should feel the same way, completely ignorant that they too are flummoxed by modern life and cannot separate the cultural wheat from the chaff. Everybody is overwhelmed, nobody is ever bored. And to think that which you find to be important is truly such is oftentimes to be delusional.
You collect your colors and they establish your identity. Sure, you could favor the obscure, but the American story is glomming on to the mainstream. That’s the essence of sports. They give you something to believe in and someone to be against. Competition is cut and dried with a limited number of teams, there’s a defined winner when the normal game of life…you’re not even sure who the players are.
That’s why the festival is more important than the act. And the hang is more important than the music. The festival is a party. The goal of a party is to have a good time. Eat some fun food and have some laughs. Other than dance/EDM acts, which are party central, the soundtrack to the revel, the rest of the bill is irrelevant. And the big money goes to the promoter. Just check AEG’s Coachella grosses.
FEWER CAN WIN
When we’re overwhelmed, we gravitate to the blockbuster. So, despite the ability to play, it’s even harder to get any traction, never mind succeed.
Everybody complains that no one marinates in their art, meanwhile the creators are jumping from item to item just as frequently. It’s not about a short attention span, it’s about a fear of missing out, and even more powerfully, a fear that something better is just a click away.
NEWS IS RARELY FUNNY
TV is selling entertainment. Which is why it’s lost purchase on the news business. People want the facts. And no one’s got time to waste watching a program with commercials. If you leave the TV on all day to be informed you know nearly nothing.
BEWARE OF FADS
Used to be musical acts were one hit wonders. Now MySpace disappears and youngsters move from Facebook to Snapchat. As hard as it is to make it, it’s even harder to sustain.
Story is everything. That’s what too many publications and websites don’t realize. In a puzzling world we’re attracted to humanity, something that reflects our condition. The most important tech story this week? Nick Bilton’s “New York Times” piece “Be the Star of Your Own Snapchat Story”: http://nyti.ms/1sAu0Uw This is not a fad. Narrative is forever. Immediacy is key. Which is why Netflix and Amazon release all episodes of their series at once. Oldsters think they’re missing out on marketing, and buzz. But the truth is today buzz comes after the fact, long after the release. The buzz empire driven by purveyors and news outlets does not square with modern society. Every week we’re sold new stuff, but we only find out months later if it’s got any traction, when we hear about it from our friends…or not. This week it’s Sleater-Kinney and “Broad City.” They’re featured in every news outlet known to man. But over the last year we’ve seen not only movies disappear in a weekend, but
complete albums. Furthermore, albums that start off as stiff suddenly gain traction, like “Kansas City” from the New Basement Tapes. You know you have a hit if people are still talking about it six months later. If not, you wasted your time.
In a world where we rarely speak to one another, where we broadcast our thoughts, often ineptly, to the masses, miscommunication is rampant. Readers want encyclopedias behind every pronouncement, needing to nail the writer for mistakes in order to feel good about themselves, and feuds are caused by statements that would evaporate into thin air prior to the internet. The end result? Fear of communication. That’s the story of today, not how everybody is busy building their brand online, but how they’ve become gun-shy, fearful of participating, because of the backlash.
DATA, NOT STATISTICS
Everybody’s number one at something. To advertise this is to make us laugh and ignore you. But if someone parses the numbers, tells a story with data, then we’re interested.
AUTHORITIES, NOT NOBODIES
At least entertainment knows it’s about stars. The “New York Times” let Nate Silver and David Pogue go, and now their data stories are written by nobodies without authority and they’ve ceded tech to other outlets. Cherish your stars. Compensate them well. Meanwhile, David Pogue has faltered at Yahoo because Marissa Mayer knows nothing about news and entertainment. Only go where people understand your core business. Nate Silver is doubling-down on fivethirtyeight.com, but he’s almost starting all over. Once again, the team is everything, and the team needs its stars.