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 Maybe the problem isn't the business plan that works, it's the outdated thinking that says that if it doesn't scale, it's not worth examining.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
    Pjerky (profile), 14 Feb 2012 @ 8:29am

    I can understand the thought process here

    I can totally understand the thought process here by those that lash out about it. The problem is multi-faceted. First of all many can, understandably, believe that if you don't already have the fan-base then how can you connect to them? I find myself struggling with that little conundrum myself. That said, these actions also help build a fan-base too.

    Most people struggle to grasp new concepts and will reel at the most radical ones because it flies in the face of everything they believe. Hundreds of years ago people laughed at, mocked, and otherwise ridiculed a man by the name of Christopher Columbus when he said the world was round, not flat.

    Even after he proved otherwise there were still many non-believers. It took a long time for society as a whole to accept such a thing. And much of that acceptance simply came from the older generations, that we already closed-minded and stuck in their ways, dying off to be replaced by younger, more open-minded people.

    Those people grew older and became stuck in their ways as well. But they had already accepted this truth. They just didn't accept any newer ones. Unfortunately I think that is what this will take. The slow death of the members of the older regime. Politicians, lawyers, and executives are all old enough to be stuck in their ways and unable or unwilling to accept such drastic changes.

    For this reason, I firmly believe that our own mortality has played a big hand in our ability to learn and adapt as a species. Otherwise we would have gone extinct a long time ago.

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