Marc Andreessen on the Future of the Entertainment Industry
I believe the entertainment industry is in the early stages of being rebuilt in the image of Silicon Valley. ... and in fact, it's already happening. Will Ferrell's Funny Or Die, in which I am a minority investor, is one early existence proof of this model. And there are a ton of other such new companies either already underway, or currently being incubated, or currently being negotiated. ...
Suppose the writers' strike continues for months to come -- and even beyond that, suppose the actors or the directors also go on strike. In such a scenario, it is hard to see how many companies based on this new model won't be created extremely quickly -- after all, if you really can't work for the Man, why not start your own company, if you can?
And if you are a primary creator in Hollywood, the model for starting your own company is suddenly becoming very clear.
Read the whole article here.
How much of what Andreessen predicts is really part of a more general trend whose effects are gripping the media companies as well? The Man is showing some vulnerability. Suddenly you can be a reportorial talent or "pundit" unto yourself. Of course you don't reap the monopoly rents the earlier generation of media companies was able to harvest. But if your costs are low it's a doable deal. Which is why hiring reporters who are in place may suddenly become more attractive than flying them around.
Taking an even broader point of view, what will the demise of the "bottlenecks" that Andreessen describes mean for the generation and distribution of future cultural product? My own guess is that the new technologies will also mean a relative decline in the cultural power of the West. It's already happening in anime and video games, where Japan is a major power. I don't see any reason in principle why declining barriers to entry won't open up at least niche markets for countries which presently have no cultural industries, though perhaps "industry" is the wrong word to use.
Finally, I can't help thinking that Andreessen's trends represent an existential threat to radical Islam. While it might be feasible for fundamentalists to turn the screws on big news companies or entertainment conglomerates, against this tidal wave of distributed creativity they will have no chance at all. Their censors could never cope. The Islamic meme will founder in an ocean of competing ideas; and it will either compete on its own merits or become submerged.
I don't know if the end of the cultural dominance of the West and the demise of radical Islam's dreams of conquering the world of the mind quite balance each other out, but maybe neither trend can be stopped. Who will win the culture wars of the 21st century? The culture that is to come.