The year was 2006. The summer had been warm, and the skies were still blue, and we were all singing along to this song on the radio:
That’s right. The Anthem of the file sharing generation. It had been less then a year since Napster had filed for bankruptcy under the weight of countless lawsuits that had been filed against it since the late 2000’s. It would be another few months before Apple would finally add the iTunes store to it’s already popular iTunes program. And if only for those few glorious months, the only options we had if we wanted to relive the magic of the genre defining Elmo/Backstreet Boy collaboration, One Small Voice, was to either kidnap Elmo or download it off Limewire.
It was a rapidly changing time for the world of music distribution, and the distribution of most creative technology, really. Takes games for example. Suddenly, video games that required at least one extra device in your pocket to play (looking at you, Game Boy Advance) could be loaded up and traded online for all it costs to keep your ultra-fast 56kb Dial-up modem running.
I mean, no longer did we have to wait the endless months between Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron disappearing from our cinema screens before we could traipse down to our local video store to watch it again. No longer did we have to pay twenty bucks just to hear that one good song an entire album of mediocrity had to offer. We, the little people, could suddenly demand what we wanted, when we wanted.
And it took years before larger companies, scrambling in blind panic over the shift in consumer power, to reach something approaching realistic relevance once more. And by then, many smaller, more successful companies had moved in to fill the void.
Which is what this weeks reading discussed, amongst other things. The newfound ability of creative works to reach broader and more for flung audiences – whether the creator wants them to or not. It’s a wonderful concept – that art, once confined to the rich and the powerful looking for something interesting to look at while reclining in their tubs of money, is suddenly accessible all (in the first world at any rate). But then, theres the flip side – of artists failing to be monetarily remunerated for their creative effort. Which is what our second reading this week discussed.
How do you put a price on creativity? It’s difficult. Ideas, I believe, are like garden seeds. Many of them will never germinate. Some will stutter and die before their time while others will lay dormant until just the right time to finally burst forth and bloom into something world changing. That is the beauty of many ideas. They can never become stale. They may lose relevancy for a little while, but eventually, someone will pick them up and re-invent them as something new.
But what about in the economic sense? Whether we like it or not, creativity and innovation is an integral part of the modern world. Every company, from Apple to Ikea, is in a constant race to come up with the very latest in their respective products – from both a technological perspective (Apple) or Design (Ikea). Steve Jobs is constantly invoked as one of the key Creatives of our era – and he was worth millions. But how was his salary calculated? If you can remember the reigning rumour, Steve Jobs was paid less then the price of a Macdonalds soft serve cone (Mintz, J. 2010).
However, he also happened to own a massive amount of company stock, which from between 2007 (the release of the first generation of iPhone) and the release of the latest iPad (this year), went from just over $85.00 to a whopping $599.00 (Wikinvest, 2012). So is that how we value our creative team? By the monetary value of their output? That’s a difficult thing to do, as all to often, much of an artists work only ever appreciates in value after a very long period of time. Results are not almost immediate, which makes it even more difficult to place a value on the pay of a creative. And once again, an idea, however good, will have to wait for just the right conditions to gain wider acceptance. However, I agree that the importance of creative individuals is on the increase. In both schools and universities, the importance of critical thinking and exploration over rote learning and rigid learning models have become the norm. More and more, society is pushing itself towards a more creative environment, where innovation and originality have become the new prize. This is especially true in advertising – an area of study that I am becoming increasingly interested in. Far gone are the days of door to door salesmen pushing their wares, or simple, informative but repetitive ads.
Advertising campaigns have become to wild and diverse, that they’ve begun to blur the lines between entertainment and selling. Between advertising and a way of life.
They have created entire subcultures of their own.
There are so many new ways for companies to reach their target audience, that in many ways, the modern advertising campaign has become the entertainment. Take for example the massively succcessful viral advertising campaign for The Dark Knight. Explicit care was taken to engage the audience in a variety of mediums, through print, through the internet, and especially through examples like this website (just an error page you say? Ctrl+a says otherwise). The tagline “Why so serious” has become so pervasive in our common lingo, you can find it pretty much everywhere. The bloodied smile of the joker a catchphrase for the damned.
Which makes future attempts at viral marketing all the more interesting – as markets will have to now find new and creative ways to engage with a generation desensitised to all the blatant advertising we’ve grown up with.
And personally, I can’t wait to be a part of it.
Dark Knight Viral Campaign Case Study: A great glimpse into the lead-up to the release of The Dark Knight.
Why So Serious: Viral Marketing Website
Sita sings the Blues: A beautiful animated short about gods and goddesses, heartbreak and hope. Distribution made possible only by the technology before you.
Melissa (2012), “Before I knew” [Image], Our Life in Pieces. Retrieved on the 28th of April 2012 from: http://stevensonslifeinpieces.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/before-i-knew.html
Mintz J. (2012), “How Does Steve Jobs Manage To Get By On Just A Dollar A Year?” [Image], Business Insider. Retrieved on the 28th of April 2012 from: http://articles.businessinsider.com/2010-01-15/tech/30017317_1_apple-stock-apple-shares-steve-jobs
Smith A. (2011), “Hail the do-it-all device: buyers get wise to smartphones”, Brisbandtimes.com.au, Retrieved 28th April 2012 from: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/executive-style/gadgets/hail-the-doitall-device-buyers-get-wise-to-smartphones-20111018-1lu7z.html
Wikinvest (2012), “Apple (APPL)”, Wikinvest. Retrieved 28th April 2012 from: http://www.wikinvest.com/stock/Apple_%28AAPL%29/WikiChart
Upto88 (2009), “Dial Up Modem Noise” [Image], Upto88.com. Retrieved on the 28th of April 2012 from: http://www.upto88.com/dial-up-modem-noise