Nothing Scales Like Stupidity

from the but...-but...-outliers! dept

An argument we frequently hear in the comments is how whatever's working for sucessful artist A won't work for artists B-Z. Whether it's Jonathan Coulton giving away his music while still making $500,000/year, Joe Konrath bypassing major publishers on his way to megabucks in self-publishing or a game developer using the Pirate Bay as a distribution system, we hear the same thing: this is all well and good for whoever's being discussed, but it's no good for anyone else. John D. Cook at The Endeavour boils down the argument thusly:
Yes, that would be the smart thing to do, but it won't scale. The stupid approach is better because it scales.
And that's it, in essence. Despite the fact that creative artists have to compete with free in this day and age, many people, even some in the creative community, still believe that this is optional. So, they lash out against any artist who has chosen to attack the perceived "piracy problem" by performing such aberrational acts as "connecting with their fans" and giving them a "reason to buy." Strange how that works.

But the arguments are always there. "This only works for X." "This artist is too small/unknown/niche/etc." If they're not running through the normal gatekeepers, it's made to seem as though every success story is yet another single example whipped up in a vacuum. Maybe the problem isn't the business plan that works, it's the outdated thinking that says that if it doesn't scale, it's not worth examining. Cook responds:
If the smart thing to do doesn’t scale, maybe we shouldn’t scale.
One size will never fit all. Get over it. Look at what works and adjust per individual situation rather than looking for the simple "Plan A" that's supposedly a be-all and end-all for every creative artist. That doesn't exist any more.

Filed Under: business models, economics, scaling


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  1. icon
    TtfnJohn (profile), 14 Feb 2012 @ 9:18am

    Re:

    Actually being good ideas has always been the problem, scaling or not. New or old business models make no difference.

    In the arts one has to work to gain "fans", in music to gig, in written form to write whatever, short stories, poetry and keep writing.

    In video or film it's made some, listen to criticism, take to heart what's valid and improve. It makes no difference whether or not it's old or new business models.

    Inevitably it becomes a relationship between the artist and "fans" whoever and where ever they're found and whatever they call themselves.

    The Internet and, most particularly,the Web ease the introduction to "fans" and communications and conversation with them easier for most. It requires little in the way of techie knowledge to open a Wordpress or other blogging account and just START. Let your friends know you're there and keep it up. Don't let it go. After a while it becomes second nature to spend 10 or 5 minutes a day at it. Not posting drivel but answering questions and taking part in the conversation.

    Artists have to do this anyway. Long before they're signed to a label, who can, basically, make them indentured servants for the rest of their careers and often do. There's nothing new in this except how it's done and the reach it has.

    And if there's anything the doesn't scale as well as the Internet does I haven't heard of it or met it yet.

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