Media: And Then What Happens

I was just looking though some BBC news when this lovely video popped up: ‘Obliteration’ risk from download[s].

The main argument seems to be: “If everyone is downloading things, the media industries couldn’t survive and would be ‘obliterated’, wiped out, no longer creating anything.”

Now I may be just be simple, but if the UK was really producing media that consumers wanted, then that demand doesn’t just evaporate with the advent of downloading. The nature of demand is that someone somewhere will make some money making it and supplying it to those people.

The difference is of course that the media would have to be supplied on the terms of the consumer and the creators would loose a lot of control over their creations. Control that they may be leaning on to earn more money than can actually be justified from their works. But at least they’d have jobs though right?

Well we’ll see how long Channel 4’s Count Down is off the air before the thousands of students and night workers who watch the show demand it’s return. To which the media companies can quite rightly start asking for payment. You can’t demand stuff be made for free, and the attitudes of advertising and license funded content seems to be dead set against admiting direct funding for content creation is even possible.

If the music industry was to suffer ‘obliteration’ in the UK, would any of the bands even notice? would anyone who is still actually making music and singing on tours actually care? I doubt the money from Glastonbury would dry up just because people can download the songs, if anything the removal of radio and crap cds might actually make it more interesting.

So my questions to Universal Music chairman Lucian Grainge are: After the obliteration, then what happens? and why should we care when it does? Even if we enter a few years of media darkness I’d stake the outhouse on there being new inventive ways to earn money from every creative industry based on the huge outpouring of demand for the kind of TV, music, film1 and software that’s we’re all so damn used to, provided to us on the ever so damned useful internet as peer to peer downloads.

Media creation won’t disappear, the rules will change, your business will have to adapt and we’ll all get on with our lives. Because the alternative is that we turn the country into a police state that criminalises sharing and human natures to serve the interests of an outmoded media creation industry.

I won’t ever support such a move.

1 If the UK actually had a film industry of course.