Here we are on February 1. We are fully into 2010 -- past the time when we are wishing one another a happy new year. We're getting down to business. We're also past January, which is the month of trade shows and awards. In the past 30 days, the Consumer Electronics industry had their big shindig in Las Vegas, the musical instrument business had it's major annual conference in L.A., the independent film business gathered in Park City, Golden Globes were awarded, Grammys were awarded, the DGA honored directors -- the list goes on.
So what do we know as a result and how does it help us? Here's a short (and certainly not comprehensive) list:
1. We know that 3D is a huge phenomenon. Will it last? Probably, but it remains to be seen. In the meantime, Avatar is the biggest film ever in terms of box office dollars, and the CES show was all about 3D technology for the home. At the Grammys last night, the audience wore their 3D glasses without shame. The technology has emerged from the nerd closet and become a part of the ubiquitous mainstream.
This creates big opportunities to capitalize on this phenomenon. Everything from cool 3D glasses for the home to 3D networks to low-cost 3D remakes of classic content. There is a lot of money to be made in the next few years by riding the 3D wave.
2. Distribution continues to decentralize. There are a plethora of small, specialty content distributors coming alive and many of them will do well. The music business has showed us that technology gives power back to the artists. When you can reach your audience directly, you don't need to pay a huge premium to large companies for market access. Bad news for the huge companies, but probably a net positive for the artists and the audience. There is infinitely more music to choose from than 10 years ago, and there are more artists making a living. They aren't getting rich, but many small, specialty artists are actually able to survive through their art. That is very different than it used to be.
And the same phenomenon is coming to film. The DVD is in its final cycle before it dies all together. Blu-Rey is nice, but it will also eventually go away. Filmmakers are creating quality content for a fraction of what it used to cost. The artists are gaining access and control; it is the same pattern as seen in the music industry. Make no mistake -- if you want to make a living as an independent producer, now is a very good time to be getting into it. You may not make the gazillions enjoyed by the successful producers of the past couple of decades, but you will be able to live a nice life from your art.
3. The world is becoming one market. More than ever before, we are all gaining access to the world market. -- and the world's money. Companies all over the world (like Reliance, for example) are investing in U.S. content and companies. And international sales of films and other content is becoming an increasingly important part of the overall financial picture, even for smaller films. When something catches on, it doesn't stop at the coasts of North America. It is as easy to find an online audience in England or Norway or Japan or even China as it is to reach people in Chicago or Denver.
Of course, the real challenge is still in finding business models that will work in this new environment. Advertising dollars are big, but limited. Online commerce is a better model, but the value of content online is clearly much lower than in a physical environment. But it is also less expensive to create the content, so technology has delivered both the problem and the solution. And for consumers, that means a lot more choice. But with that choice, marketers face the challenge of rising above the din to find an audience.
That's enough for now. It is enough to spin your head. Suffice it to say that it is a completely new world and many people will continue to gain wealth in this new environment. Keep your head up and look for the opportunities, and there is nothing to stop you from being among the new crop of winners.