So, over the past couple days I have been talking about the Indie Revolution. Now comes time for my judgment call (like my word actually means anything). Is this Indie Revolution a flash in the pan? Is it good for artists? Is it good for consumers? Read on, loyal audience, and find out!
The Indie Revolution has given a tremendous amount of power to artists. Production, promotion, and distribution are now in the hands of the creators. For the first time in history, anyone with a few basic materials and a bit of talent can make their mark on the cultural landscape. How cool is that?! It’s difficult, and it’s not a guarantee of success, but it’s easier than ever for you to write a book, direct a film, record an album, or produce a video game. You can reach people the world over with your work. Even with this blog I have had viewers from Canada, Russia, India, Cote d’Ivoire, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and many many other countries. In short, it’s an exciting time to be a content creator. There are some downsides. You have to pay for everything. Even if you use crowdfunding you are still generating that income by proxy and are responsible for how to spend it. You are responsible for all of the major production decisions and the promotional work. It can be a lot to handle for one person, or even a group of people. This is why it’s important for independent artists to network with people that can help with the process. We’re all in this together, right?
The Indie Revolution has been great for artists, but it has also been great for consumers. Never before has there been such a wealth of entertainment and artistic options, and it gets even better. Are you into some really bizarre, niche art? Good news! You can probably find it on the internet. Is there a book that you’d like to read, movie you’d like to watch, video game you’d like to play, or album you’d like to listen to, but know you’re probably not going to find it at a local shop? Chances are someone has produced it and it’s just waiting for your discovery. Yes, it does take time for you to sift through the material you don’t want, or the material that is just in desperate need of polishing, but I think of it like cooking at home versus buying fast food. Sure, you know you like fast food, it’s cheap, and it’s fast (duh), but it’s never really all that rewarding. On the contrary, if you look for a recipe, buy the ingredients, and go through the process of cooking it yourself you’ll probably feel more rewarded and more satisfied (Although I did try to make a tofu omelet last night, and it took about two hours to make and I will never make one again.) My point is there is diverse, interesting, and entertaining content out there thanks to the Indie Revolution. One great touchstone is The Martian. The Martian was originally self published, so if you enjoyed the book and/or the movie adaptation, well, you probably wouldn’t have had that pleasure without Andy Weir’s ability to publish on Amazon.
So is the Indie Revolution just a quick digital Gold Rush? Given that it is a revolution, my answer is that the hype will wear off after a few years. The novelty fades and it stops being special, but with successful revolutions (and this is looking pretty successful) the effects make deep impacts and last for a long time. I think in five, ten, twenty years time it will be the norm for artists to produce their early material on their own then use the internet as a way to gain the attention of the various industry elites. For instance, instead of writing your first novel(s) then looking all over creation for an agent or a publisher, you will write, edit, and sell on your own. If your material is popular enough then a publishing house will approach you. Record labels, publishing houses, video game publishers, and big movie studios will probably exist for a long time, if not indefinitely, but their purpose will change. Instead of being the sacred “gatekeepers” of “quality,” they will be the benefactors that invest and distribute at a level an indie artist is probably incapable of accomplishing. Ultimately, the Indie Revolution is turning out to be a win for artists, a win for consumers, and even a win for the industries. To be honest and frank, I’m fucking excited.
Leave a comment here, or follow me on Twitter (@ahahnjones) and leave a comment there. Do you agree? Disagree? Suggestions for future posts? Lemme know.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you stick around.