Dan Lyons wrote a brilliant analysis of the Facebook’s purchase of Instagram in "Newsweek".
Bottom line, the web is dead. We live in a mobile world. And Facebook didn’t have a decent app. Rather than try and convince everybody to go back to the past, to keep surfing on full-sized computers, Zuckerberg bought Instagram, which had a great app, despite having no present profits, he didn’t want to be left out of the future.
Do you want to be left out of the future?
Do you still buy CDs, print books, do you still believe landlines are best?
Then you’re already in the rearview mirror.
The iPad is killing the laptop. People no longer bother to bring computers on the road. And the smartphone population will soon exceed the number of PCs. Are you ready?
The MP3 is just about history. Only old farts like the RIAA bother to combat illicit acquisition of them. We live in a streaming world. Let me ask you, do you have enough storage in your smartphone to hold your entire music collection? Hell, they still sell an iPod Classic, but the big seller is the iPod Touch, which has much less storage, and most people buy the basic iPhone with minimal storage.
We’re moving to an access world.
Are you ready?
And in this world, it’s not about making a splash, but being a lake.
Everybody wants their YouTube clip to go viral. Virality is a thing of the past. It’s worse than a one hit wonder. It doesn’t even last that long. Talk about Kony recently? How about that guy whose guitar was crushed by…what airline was that again? If his career got a bounce, it was momentary.
And then there’s that band that replicated Gotye’s hit and got on "Ellen"… I can’t even remember their name!
As for Gotye himself, he’s been in the game for years. And the only way his touring numbers will maintain is if people listen to his past work and believe it has merit.
If you’re in search of a hit, you’re playing it wrong. You want to be on reality TV, you’re gonna be history almost instantly.
It’s harder than ever to last.
But people do.
And not only do they work hard, develop skills, they survey the landscape, they envision where opportunity will arise.
If you read Malcolm Gladwell’s "Outliers", and most people trumpeting the fact that they’ve put in 10,000 hours have not, you know that timing/environment is everything. You can do the same exact thing and in one era you can starve and another you can be a billionaire.
Microsoft was so busy doing everything, they couldn’t do one damn thing right. They’re kings in computer application software, what will this mean in the future? A lot less. Especially when Google Docs is free.
In a world where most apps are free, musicians complain that people are stealing their music or Spotify doesn’t pay much. They can’t see the future. One in which just getting people to check you out is the most difficult task.
Concert promoters charge ever more for live shows, to the point where concerts have become special events. Going to hear live music is akin to going to legitimate theatre. An overpriced, once a year event. And once the classic rockers pass…THEN WHAT?
Imagine if the record labels had made a deal with Napster, they would have profited for years instead of lost money.
Imagine if musical acts knew that no one listened to albums, they’d stop wasting so much money and time and release only great singles, or a constant stream of product, letting the public spread the word on what it decides is good…
Imagine if acts stopped trying to get on the dying Top Forty radio, sounding like everybody else, but were unique and built their own audience… THEN THEY COULD TOUR FOREVER!
This business is run by baby boomers so wedded to the past that they can’t see the future. They believe in radio, physical media and getting a big corporation to pay when innovators raise money on Kickstarter, obligated not a whit to anyone, and electronic music never gets airplay and dominates the touring arena.
Do you want to get left behind?
Do you think the past was better and wish we could go back there?
Then you’ve just signed your death warrant.
We live in an attention economy. Where the most important element is access. If you’re not available to everybody at a very low price, if not free, you’re destined for the scrapheap.
And in an era where we’re on information overload, only the incredible takes hold and survives.
So, unless you’re incredible, go to work at 7-11, go to work for the government, play it safe. Because everybody wants to be in entertainment and the landscape is littered with people who made it once and can no longer play, never mind the never-beens.
You make an album and spam "tastemakers" with MP3s and complain you can’t get noticed.
You’re doing it wrong.
But you’re not the only one.