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 Maybe the problem isn't the business plan that works, it's the outdated thinking that says that if it doesn't scale, it's not worth examining.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
    Marcus Carab (profile), 14 Feb 2012 @ 11:05am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yup, let me call Apple and tell them to shut off Itunes, and let Amazon know to stop selling music and movies because clearly the business models don't scale to the internet.

    No, see, those are new and quite different models and they were created by others for the entertainment industry, which was failing to scale its existing model and refusing to adapt itself.

    If you actually think iTunes and Amazon use the same business model as record labels and movie studios, that explains why you have so much trouble keeping up with these discussions.

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