Back in June, NMR did an interview with R&B legend Brian McKnight. The part of his interview that stuck out the most to me was when he started talking about the state of music today:
“You have to understand – all those record labels back then were privately owned. They weren’t having to deal with shareholders every quarter as to what the bottom line was. There’s a whole economic situation that has happened with labels over time that has caused music to be the way it is. They need a quick return right now.”
The YouTube community was built by independent creators, and that is arguably the reason why YouTube is so huge today. Currently, 7 of the top 10 YouTube channels are all personalities who have built their followings initially as independent creators.
Then YouTube networks like Big Frame, Maker Studios and Fullscreen were founded. These companies specialized in services including management, implementing brand deals and production. Over time, as networks grew and seeked further funding, some key acquisition deals occurred including Discovery’s acquisition of Revision3 and Alloy Digital’s acquisition of Clevver Media. Apart from this, we’ve also seen a few big media corporations slowly trying to get a piece of the new media action, like Time Warner’s $40 million funding of Maker Studios. All in all, what started out as a simple community of independent creators turned into private companies that then began signing these creators. Now as more investors are participating, the thirst for consistently released quality content is growing rapidly. Do you see history starting to repeat itself?
Of course, any network and/or company can say that their focus will always be to make sure that their talents get the most creative freedom. But honestly, as more investment funding pours in, the desperation for more profits grow stronger. And we all know that as creators, we can’t pump out amazing content alone consistently forever, especially when you’re constantly at the mercy of those that only care about the bottom line. As Brian McKnight notes, “Remember that the bands that we loved before would go away for two or three years to create a record. Why? Because that’s how long it takes to make something great. You can’t make something great in a couple of months when you have 10 producers on it and 50 writers; it’s too difficult.”
In the end, this industry is growing fast, and everyday the demand for content that drives quality traffic grows as companies strive to satisfy investors. No matter what, unless you are only looking to stay a small private entity, you will eventually need help in producing content that will monetize.
Does content on YouTube share the same fate as today’s music? Will the big independent creators of today eventually turn into mere products that spit out content produced by those in the back-end? Most importantly, will individual creativity eventually die in the YouTube community?
You can check out our past interview with Brian McKnight below, he start’s talking about the state of music today at 7:30: