Lately I’ve seen several articles that lump all the media industries together (Books, Newspapers, Magazines, Music, TV, Movies) and discuss their impending doom. The story goes that the era of commissioning, creating, publicizing, distribution, selling is coming to an end. In this post Mainstream Media world creation will be accomplished by individuals or groups of self-motivated artists/authors looking to enrich the world. Publicizing won’t be necessary because the social internet creates many mechanisms for things to “go viral” and selling won’t be a problem with Google AdWords, YouTube, Amazon (which has a self publishing platform for Kindle), WordPress, Etsy and many many others giving small timers the chance to easily scale and monetize when their popularity increases.
I agree with the premise that a large part of the world is headed in the direction of the post Mainstream Media world. I just don’t think you can lump all of the media entities in to the same bucket. At first I wasn’t sure why I wouldn’t lump them all in the same bucket, but after some thought I’ve come to a conclusion. I think it all comes down to barriers to entry. To be even more specific, it comes down to barriers to entry in creation. To be even more even more specific, it comes down to the financial (not counting artist’s time) cost of creation. The more expensive it is to create the higher the barrier to entry for the new paradigm and the better protected mainstream media is. This is also because once some financier of some sort (publishing house for books, executive producer for movies, etc…) dumps a bunch of money in to creation he/she has a vested interest in making sure the publicizing, distribution, selling are as much of an easy to operate machine as possible.
So, thinking about it that way, the mainstream media is not in one bucket ready to fail. They are actually spread across a continuum. Here are there rough death sentences (not that I think any of them will disappear completely, but the time represented is until they are just shells of their former selves):