For the past few years my thinking has been slowly evolving concerning the emergent business models for artists in the Digital Age. Like many in the tech community, I assumed that tech would have an answer, presumably in the arena of advertising. I believed the argument many had been making about giving away your creations and monetizing it some other way. It was, and is, an attractive argument. After all, Google made it billions from allowing users free access to its search engine and selling ad revenue.
But a growing body of evidence from the music industry, the most mature digital market, suggests that this arrangement has yet to work well. Of course "well" is a subjective term. As well as what we might ask? The twentieth century business model for starters. Selling the actual "art" it self during the twentieth century produced and explosion of wealth, and as a by product, artistic creations. Granted, the twentieth century is an anomaly in the history of the Arts, but it was a good anomaly- lots of art, good, bad, and ugly, was created. Personally I would prefer to see that situation perpetuated in the twenty first century.
Which is what I mean by working "well". The problem is that the most mature digital ecosystem has been hammered by digitization. This article on the music industry puts it into great perspective. They lost half their revenues. Recently, the industry posted a modest profit, but it is too early to say if that is a blip in the downward spiral or not.
This more recent article fits neatly with the growing impression that the music industry is in a "death spiral". I especially like its simple and straightforward approach. The butchered Thom Yorke quote is just gravy.
But why do we care, and why am I writing about this? Because this is the only thing keep Hollywood and the publishing industry from making the migration to digital formats. And that is a situation libraries cannot afford. It also demonstrates the gaping hole in the industry that is waiting to be filled. In my opinion there is ample room in that vacuum for libraries to stake out a critical piece of landscape