Creating vs. Running A Business

from the a-good-discussion dept

When we talk about business models here, we often use music as an example, since the music industry is facing many of these issues a bit ahead of the curve from many other industries. However, some other industries are actually facing many of the same issues, and it's good to see what they have to say as well. For example, one of the key complaints that many people have when we show and discuss models that involve connecting with fans, is this odd claim that doing so means that the "creators" have to spend all their time "connecting" or "selling" or "running a business," rather than doing more creating. However, I've never thought that to be the case. I've said from very early on that the real point is that an artist can do that if they want, but that partners can and have sprung up to fill those roles. This is why I still think there's a big role for a "record label" to play, in handling much of that for the artists, so they can continue to focus on creating.

JLJ points out that a similar debate appears to be happening in the webcomics community, with Scott Kurtz, the author of PvP discussing the swinging pendulum between handing over nearly all control to a syndicate or marketing partner to a completely DIY model, and then hopefully back to some happy medium.

I think that's definitely what's happening in the music space -- but the nice thing is that it's not just a pendulum, but a spectrum, so that different artists can pick and choose what makes the most sense for them. Sometimes you come across artists who really want to be involved in the marketing and connecting and the selling. And sometimes, they don't. But the point is now they have the choice. And, even beyond that choice, within each aspect of the spectrum, there are many more options in terms of who to partner with and how to structure the deal. In the old system, you had a very small number of record labels or comic syndicates -- and, as such, they held all the power and could structure deals that were bordering on indentured servitude. But, with so many more options these days, the creators are actually taking back control. There's competition in the marketplace, and even if a creator wants nothing to do with the business and marketing side at all, it doesn't mean they have to sign a life sentence over to a business manager. And that's a very good thing for content creators.

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  1. identicon
    harknell, 26 Aug 2009 @ 5:56am

    Comics have less of a "spectrum" though

    As another webcomic creator I can tell you that the comics field has far less of a "spectrum" than music. Right now if you want to distribute your comic in retail stores you pretty much have one distributor you can contract with: Diamond. Almost all of the others have gone out of business or been absorbed. The regular comic book market imploded in the late 90's so it's pretty difficult now to get physical books out there. Of course most of the webcomic "market" is exactly what it sounds like--the web--but to get "connected" with people they really do want something physical of yours, which are usually books.

    Scott, as well as a few others, are in unique positions due to their high web traffic numbers, so they can get "irregular" deals with major labels, but most people are doing the DIY direct sales technique at cons or through their own online store to get their non-scarce goods out there. Scott is mostly concerned with the fact that many online comic creators are unaware of the nature of these contracted business deals that "rob" you (i.e. gain control of your copyrighted material) of your content--many people do not realize that comics and music are somewhat similar in concept. And in many cases these deals are being framed as "contests" or other "we'll host your comic" drapings.

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