The age old question -- is content really king? Or, is the technology that distributes that content the real majesty?
I have straddled both worlds of content -- content creation (10 years in the major studios) and technology-driven content distribution (10 years in the online world). Universal Studios, New Line Cinema, Savoy Pictures, the rap group N.W.A. in this corner (CONTENT). Musicmatch, Digital Music Group, Sorenson Media and overall digital media advisory roles in the other corner (ONLINE DISTRIBUTION). And, I have written numerous times about this topic, including my recent TechCrunch guest post titled, "Apple Schooled Music Execs Then, Here Are the Lessons Online Video Should Learn Now" (not my original title for that post, by the way).
Here's my verdict -- content absolutely is king. And, as I write in my TechCrunch piece, the media and entertainment companies -- if they play their cards right -- are in the driver's seat and can extract significant value because each piece of content is unique.
Case in point -- the television show "Mad Men" is reported to have just paid $250,000 to license one lesser-known Beatles track ("Tomorrow Never Knows") for use in that show. Apparently, this is the first time a Beatles "master" (i.e., the actual recording from The Beatles) has been used in a television show since "WKRP in Cincinnati" (yes, you heard me right)! While this particular story relates to licensing for television programming, the underlying rationale for this result is the same in the premium online video distribution world (and, don't forget, this episode of "Mad Men" will be monetized ultimately in the online world via Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Apple and others).
And again -- that rationale is SCARCITY! So, content creators -- there is much more where this came from! Yes, this is The Beatles. But, as I have written (including in my TechCrunch piece), the greater the number of distribution outlets there are for premium content, the greater the monetization opportunities for content creators. From the vantage point of the creator, the primary goal is to foster THAT kind of eco-system.
If there is only one of you -- and there are lots of "them" that want that one of you -- then that's a pretty good dynamic to have.