The end of the creative industrial complex

When Arcade Fire took home record of the year Sunday, a lot of people made note that an indie upstart, not associated with a big label was able to write, perform and produce, all by themselves, the best album of the year. Unlike the “Lady,” they didn’t need the big machine of producers, marketers, and pitchmen to create buzz and launch them to the industry’s greatest heights.

Just a week earlier, the top spot (says USA Today) in the Super Bowl also went to an upstart. A web designer and former film school student who wasn’t able to break into the film business the traditional way. Now he’s done what so many of us in the industry still hope to do one day.

We’ve all been hearing for years about the collapse of the record business. As a consumer of music, it’s been a great time for diversity talent. There’s a lot of great music out there for people who are actively looking for it. And of course, there’s a lot of mainstream crap for people who are looking for that too. But for the industry, times are tough. Apple is making a fist-full of money, but there’s certainly less to go around at the labels and for the artists.

The same thing is happening in advertising. There are a lot fewer creatives supported by the agency structure with more pressure for the creative to  generate ROI while clients are getting limited, but some really good results with user generated content.

This means more than no more drinks at lunch, no more cappuccinos at edit session and no sushi on your expense report. It means your job could be crowd sourced and that you may be a end up working as permanent freelancer with no prospect of a 401k or health benefits.

Don’t believe me? Then why is this place thriving? Why are people lining up to use and be used by CrowdSpring? Why are so many really talented professionals finding it so hard to find permanent gigs? And why do you have twice the workload you did ten years ago?

This article isn’t about bashing do-it-yourselfers or the wisdom of crowds. As a teenage punk (and still one at heart) “DIY” and “down with the corporate structure” are ideas I can get behind. Rather, the point I’m attempting to make is the good old days of having the time, and the opportunity to do something really creative may not happen that often anymore on the clients dime. Rather now is the time to make it happen for yourself.

DIY may not just be a punk motto anymore.

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Posted on: February 18, 2011, by :