Don’t think of corporations, the term has been bastardized to the point where it means anybody or anything that has risen above and solidified an audience. That’s who and what rules in the internet age. And it’s harder than ever to get there.

That’s the untold story of the past five internet years. How we went from a free-for-all to solidification, how barriers to entry have been established that you may not be able to codify or see, but that are there nonetheless.

The audience is overwhelmed with choice/input. Just think of TV. You’ve got the five hundred channels on cable plus Hulu, Amazon and Netflix. You can’t see everything, you can’t even try. It’s overwhelming. So we gravitate to that which everybody else does. He or she who rises above becomes ever more popular.

So a curator can be a brand. That’s what’s wrong with the playlists on Beats and Spotify. We have no idea who created them, and until we do, it’s hard to pay attention. A curator we believe in will take us places we didn’t previously choose to go, because we have faith in them. You know, a friend whose taste you trust who tells you to listen to something, which you don’t like at first, but you slog through, because they said so.

When a newspaper tells you to do something, you don’t. That’s what papers have lost, their credibility when it comes to the arts. They’re in bed with the purveyors and have blown our trust.

But now we’ve got a plethora of people trying to gain our trust online. And most are doing it for the money. Which turns us off, because so many of us are broke or challenged. We want like-minded people, in bed with us, to tell us what to do. This is the essence of the problem with the Tidal press conference, it was them versus us, no matter what they were trying to say.

Curation is a nascent field. It’s still being sorted out. In article curation, we’ve got Jason Hirschhorn, Dave Pell and the Skimm women. But Pell is a one man band, can he compete against Hirschhorn and the Skimm without investment? Just watch “Shark Tank,” there’s a tsunami of orders after you appear on the show, can you fulfill them?

And timing is everything. You used to be able to go viral. We were all hungry for info, we loved trading music online like we did jokes back in the heady days of AOL in the nineties.

But when was the last time someone e-mailed you a joke?

And no one cares when you e-mail an MP3, god forbid, or a link to YouTube or Spotify, unless you’ve previously gained their trust. We’ve got enough music, we’re overwhelmed with input.

The deejay used to be the curator in the free-form radio days. Very few got the gig, we had faith in them.

Will there be superstar curators?

Probably, let’s hope so.

But just throwing a ton of playlists at us does not solve the problem. I don’t want one for sleeping and peeing and farting and screwing… I want one that speaks to me uniquely, yet makes me feel part of humanity!

P.S. The rules are in flux! They’re constantly changing! Don’t be a politician, afraid to admit the game has changed or you’re wrong for fear of gotcha ads and rearguard constituents who can’t handle the truth. “Harlem Shake” killed the viral video. Because its success was manipulated and people found out about it. You cannot act like the landscape doesn’t change. People had to buy CDs of full albums in the nineties, now they can pick and choose the hits they want to hear and even if you create something very good on the other nine or eleven tracks on an album, most people won’t check them out. So, you’ve got to think of a new way of tackling the public.

P.P.S. You’ve also got to decide if you want to reach everyone or someone. Go for world domination or an audience that will keep you alive. Amanda Palmer has a world-dominating story, but her music is for very few. Furthermore, everything grows out of her music, so she must keep doing that and chances are her further movements in distribution and marketing won’t gain as much attention.

P.P.P.S. If Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher started ReCode five years earlier it would have had a much better chance of standalone success. So, an idea might be good for today, but terrible for tomorrow. One characteristic of a winner is someone who is constantly taking the temperature, who realizes we live on shifting sands.

P.P.P.P.S. Establish who your audience is. If you’ve got an app you want to flip… You need VC money and a corporation to buy it. Sure, you need traffic, but you’re really selling to the VC and corporation. Whereas if you’re an artist, you’re selling to the end consumer. The end consumer must be paramount in your plan.

P.P.P.P.P.S. We don’t need you or your plan. Life is an endless river that never stops flowing, the same water never passes by again. Don’t overestimate your importance, know that nothing is forever, do great work, but realize you must get in the boat and float, and that going upstream rarely pays dividends, thirteen year olds rarely want the music of septuagenarians, it’s the way of the world.

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