All the focus on the digitization and online distribution of music — and now video — has been on piracy. But what if that’s just a red herring?
You could argue that the most striking consequence of digitizing media and distributing it online is that all content is now available in a discrete, granual form. Music file. Article page. Video clip. Podcast. Photo. There are very few places on the web that require you to buy a whole package in order to get one item.
This is a radical transformation of the content business. Think about it.
How many CDs have you bought for just one song? How many magazines have you bought just to read one article? How many cable channels do you subscribe to in order to watch just one channel? How many radio stations have you kept on in the car because you heard one song that you liked? How many newspapers have you bought just to read one section?
The media business has always been about selling you content that you don’t really want by stapling it (literally or figuratively) to the content that you do want. The digitization of media on the network has obliterated this model.
As makers of these fine “granuals” of content, do we need to worry about the collapse of traditional distribution channels? I don’t think so. Media distribution models are rapidly evolving to address this granualization. And ultimately, there will be a market for well produced rich content. It may be a micro-market, or several micro-markets stitched together, but content worth consuming will be found, shared and in many instances paid for.