Once upon a time, Perez Hilton ruled the online gossip sphere. He treaded where no major corporation risked playing. Because the old farts don’t understand that today we’re interested in people more than events and we just want the facts.
If only Perez had realized this. Amateurs make inroads, professionals dominate. Perez thought people went to his site for him. But they went to his site for facts. And one guy, spread too thin, trying to become a brand, with multiple Websites, a concert tour and books, never mind personal appearances, just can’t compete with a deep pocket that comprehends the paradigm.
In other words, Harvey Levin and TMZ are obliterating Perez Hilton. But TMZ is also triumphing over conventional media outlets. Because TMZ understands the younger generation, which wants facts immediately and analysis later.
This is why the Fox News Network is doomed. There’s no news gathering, just talking heads.
This is why the Huffington Post is the number one rated blog. A quick scan will inform you of all current events. In an instant, you’re up to date. You can go to a party and talk like you’re living in the world, as opposed to being an outsider. Go to the "New York Times" site and try to figure out what is going on in the world in an instant. It’s IMPOSSIBLE!
Which is why the "Times" is foundering. The Gray Lady is not in touch with Steve Jobs’ rule number one. Design is key to triumph. The "Times" site looks like the newspaper. Should Websites look like newspapers? Isn’t that like saying music must come on round discs?
Sure, TMZ pays sources. Sure, TMZ is willing to stick its neck out prior to confirmation. But TMZ very rarely gets it wrong. Which is why if you want to know anything about personality news, you go to TMZ first.
TMZ posted that Michael Jackson was dead long before any other Website.
TMZ owned the Tiger Woods saga.
Sure, Frank Rich nailed the analysis. A MONTH after the events.
But by this time, we’d all been discussing the multiple mistresses, debating whether Elin should divorce Tiger for eons!
So what have we learned here?
The individual pioneer will not win on the Web unless he doubles down, unless he raises a ton of cash and spends it. A gossip blog was a good idea, Perez Hilton proved that. He just didn’t know how to scale it. So, his days are numbered.
Innovators in the online music sphere… Wait for someone to prove the paradigm, then watch someone with deep pockets dive in and own it. You may think this is unfair, but this is business reality, not music-centric inevitability. The reason the major labels always stole the indie acts was because the majors had cash, which they were willing to spend. Want to compete with a major? Get backing, spend promotional monies, pay royalties, earn success. Then new acts will be flocking to you instead of Universal.
But Universal is just like the "New York Times". Railing against the future, trying to find a way to jet us all back to the past. This strategy failing, Universal is now diversifying, like Perez Hilton, doing a ton of things poorly. This is not a recipe for success. When you expand, you’ve got to spend money, and get it done right!
TMZ is entering sports. Do you think they’re going to do it as lamely as Perez did with fashion? If you think so, I’ve got to quote Judas Priest, you’ve got another thing coming.
And for all Arianna Huffington’s bloviating, I wouldn’t bet on the Huffington Post either. They’ve got great design, but they create almost none of their own content. Oh, don’t tell me about the celebrity and wannabe blogs, no one reads those, they don’t even read Arianna’s musings anymore. They just want the information.
But at least the left wing knows it’s about information. The right wing still thinks it’s about discussion/analysis on talk radio. If you think the Web-savvy generation is listening to talk radio, you probably still think hit albums sell ten million copies.
As for Rupert Murdoch trying to pull content from Google to survive… That’s wrong too. You need to adjust your product for the Web. Create sites just like TMZ and the Huffington Post, that focus on facts. Save the analysis for somewhere else. Diversify, don’t try to hide behind your ivory tower.
Every newspaper now has blogs. They’re making their reporters write more to earn their pay. Only one problem, what is the URL for Patrick Goldstein’s movie industry blog? You go to the L.A. "Times" site and then..? Whereas it’s easy to find Nikki Finke, and she now rules movie industry news. Because she’s cultivated relationships and is not worried about occasionally getting it wrong.
That’s what happens in an instant culture. You sometimes screw up. But that shouldn’t mean you should wait forever for verification.
Do celebrities like TMZ?
Because TMZ is beholden to its audience, the public, the readers, not the famous. Too many newspapers are beholden to those they report upon, whether it be government officials or bigwig financiers. Those people don’t pay the bills, READERS DO! If you go on the attack and nail those who screw up, then you’ve got the readers on your side.
You don’t always have to win, you’ve just got to win a few times.
The "New York Times" is famous for getting it wrong about WMDs. Judith Miller was a groupie for the Bush Administration. We used to think if the "New York Times" says it’s so, it is. No more.
TMZ is famous for getting the details on Michael Jackson and Tiger Woods first. So now TMZ is the first click in a celeb crisis.
This is kind of like hit records. Create something great, and we keep coming back. Make mediocre music and do endorsement deals with those corporations we hate and you’ve got to earn our trust all over again.
It’s a whole new world. With brand new rules.
We live in an era of immediacy. When a news event happens, write a song about it and get it online within hours, not months or years.
The key is to interact online, to play. Sure, no one likes to make mistakes, but we forgive them in a twenty four hour news cycle…if you make apologies and continue to try and get it right in the future. The major labels squandered all their capital. If they apologized, lowered prices and got in bed with their customers, they’d have a chance of surviving. Instead, they’re driving themselves into being licensing houses for their catalogs. It’s not the public’s fault, it’s the companies’ fault!
What used to work, works no more.
There used to be albums. Should there be albums in the future?
With a steady stream of information online, why should we wait years for your next ten track opus?
Don’t fight the future, accept it.
And know that he who does, who does not try to protect his investment in the past, but plays by the new rules, wins. Assuming that once he’s got traction he doubles down, he invests, he realizes, like Steve Jobs, that the world is constantly changing. Rupert Murdoch thought MySpace would dominate forever. Any user could see that the interface/software sucked. Wall Street prognosticators considered the purchase a good deal. But the public doesn’t listen to Wall Street, it listens to its friends, which are now all on Facebook.
Today’s kids know more news than you ever did. They don’t get it by watching network broadcasts, or even cable channels, but by surfing the Web. Those you think are ignorant are not. Harvey Levin has tapped into this. Can you?