It costs too much to do something new.
It’s not only the development expenses, never mind coming up with a new idea, but the marketing money, how do you make people aware of what you’re doing in a sea of endless messages, one in which the vaunted “Breaking Bad” took years to gain traction.
I didn’t go to see U2. I like “The Joshua Tree,” but how many times can I go and relive the past? Have you looked at what’s playing in Live Nation’s amphitheatres this summer? It’s like a reboot of what once was, from the seventies and eighties, the same damn acts doing the same damn songs because it’s just too hard to have a hit today and to have another.
Blame the internet.
The internet opened the floodgates, decimated the barrier to entry and then no matter how fat the pipe got it was clogged. And what started out as a social network, remember AOL?, turned into a for-profit venture, and obliterated everything in its path.
Especially television ratings.
So we end up with “American Idol” and “Love Connection,” and if you think people are clamoring for these shows, you probably believe Bono can write another hit.
But they’re safe.
“Idol” was canceled because ratings sank, now those same ratings are investment-worthy, only a couple of years later.
If you think there’s a drag on our creativity, you’re right.
We rely on outsiders to break the paradigm, but no one wants to risk in a world where there are so many challenges, especially economic. Quit your job in Canada and you still have health insurance, there’s a good safety net, quit your job in America and you’re on the way to poverty, and if you get sick you will go bankrupt.
So those at the top, who don’t want to let their companies lay fallow, take some time off to develop new wares, keep rebooting in order to generate revenue. That’s why all the records sound the same, the days of Mo & Joe at Warner Brothers are long gone, where the hits allowed the company to invest in innovation, left field stuff, like the electronic Beaver & Krause, the picker Ry Cooder, in the hopes of generating income years down the line. Look at a label’s roster today, no one’s even gonna play out their contract, after their hit they’ll fade into obscurity and investment will falter. As for stuff that sounds different, the only person seemingly able to do this is Richard Russell at XL. It takes guts to say no, to go the other way, and if you’re working for the man, you don’t, corporations engender groupthink.
So we end up with superhero movies.
And superhero shows on TV.
All the while they keep telling us you can get rich being an influencer on Instagram, making videos on YouTube, but the truth is very few people are making coin there, and they’re working 24/7, and looking to sell out to the big boys. Everybody’s living in the present, what about tomorrow? Isn’t that what Fleetwood Mac implored us to do, think about tomorrow?
The public craves new and different. It latches on to trends when made aware of them. But we’ve got no infrastructure crusading for the new and different, we just have endless self-congratulatory awards shows that feature the same old stuff that makes you tune out.
We’re all tuning out.
Creators need self-respect. The techies are not going to save our industries, it’s not in their DNA, they’re too practical.
The reason that Netflix burgeoned is because of investment, in creators, allowing them to do what they choose. Remember when the streaming service was all about old stuff? Now that’s all gone and you jump in to capture the zeitgeist as you cut the cord ’cause you’re sick of overpaying for moribund sports talk on ESPN, sick of paying for all the detritus you don’t use.
Good for Katy Perry that she got $25 mil for “Idol.”
But that show ain’t gonna work, it hasn’t minted a star in years, and “The Voice” never has. But we’re subjected to the endless celebrity parade like we care.
And some nitwits do.
But most people are smarter than that and don’t.
So pay your dues, take chances, evaluate whether you’ve got it or not, we’ve got no room for journeymen.
But until the gatekeepers start living in the future, and the gatekeepers are as powerful as they ever were, even though they’ve sometimes got different names, we’re screwed.