Ars has a great article up on how smaller musical acts are being affected by streaming and subscription models, and how Apple used to be able to give these acts an enormous boost — but no longer seems to have that power (or interest).
It’s a must-read for authors or anyone interested in entertainment and digital disintermediation. Could the same thing be around the corner for indie authors? Will income diminish as all-you-can-read subscription services mature? Will breakouts be more rare as top authors vie for promo spots that used to be about the discovery of new art but are slowly becoming more useful as advertising for competing platforms? I think this last fear is a valid one, and it would be a detriment to readers as well as upcoming writers.
There’s also mention of how spreading yourself too thin as an artist by doing promos everywhere is not as powerful as the directed energy of a single major player. Could it be that a more competitive market for the consumption of art diminishes the cultural penetration of that art? As iTunes lost market share, did music lose some significance in our daily habits? Would video do the same if YouTube lost market share to dozens of competitors? What effect does dilution of platform have on buzz and word-of-mouth?
One other potential pitfall for authors is hinted at in the article: Devices like iPods that used to be about music have morphed into iPhone swiss army knives where tunes are one app among many. Similarly, I see the threat of people buying tablets instead of dedicated e-readers (the latter is far superior for reading and has fewer distractions). If you are a book-lover or an author, it’s a good idea to rave about your e-reader and maybe let people you know borrow the device and give it a try.
The article is long but seriously worth the read. I’ve learned a lot about the publishing industry by watching the music industry. We seem to lag behind them a few years in many developments. If possible, let’s learn from their mistakes instead of resigning ourselves to repeating them.