Remember the old skating rinks where you would go as a kid to meet girls, hang with your friends, and skate. They had a time when only the girls would skate, then only the boys, then the skilled skaters who could skate backward, do figure eights, jumps, spins, and tricks. Then they announced, “All Skate” and everyone would rush the rink and it was usually pandemonium. No one really had a problem with having a time when people who really had skills and had worked at the art form could perform.
But times have changed, the philosophy of talent being ‘in the eye of the beholder’ creates problems for the entertainment industries. Why do we need gatekeepers if everyone is theoretically talented? You are considered a bigot if you judge someone’s talent as being inferior, but that is part of a gatekeeper’s job, you have to be brave enough to make distinctions while trying to find what you also think will be popular even just within a niche. The All Skate Philosophy hasn’t produced greater art it has diluted it and made it all a little more average and unspecial.
In the past the ‘barriers to entry’ are what kept the entertainment industries from being an All Skate. Because of technology, these barriers have disappeared in the main and everyone is now a cinematographer, music producer, record label, writer, publisher, author, and production house; just by virtue of owning the equipment and being able to produce a finished product. For those who embrace the All Skate Philosophy, it’s mainly a hobby for them rather than their career.
Is it a good state of affairs when the amount of people earning their living in the Entertainment Business has been reduced dramatically? Everyone from people on the creative side to secretaries, office help, assistants, recording studio staff, etc, are all gone pretty much. There is a great investment ad where a tennis player is about to serve and people with rackets start running on the court and trying to hit the ball, all hell breaks loose and you can imagine the result. That for me sums up the mess we are in better than anything. It is pandemonium, yet, as we see in what people watch on YouTube there is an audience for that kind of tennis.
If we had healthy industries in Music, Film, and Book Publishing then where we are at with the kind of access customers have to the products that these industries create, publish and distribute would be thrilling. But it isn’t and it doesn’t look like it will get better any time soon unless change happens!
The money over the last 15 years has poured into the supply of entertainment to the consumer, iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, Hulu, Createspace, Netflix, and alike. But what is the future for most of these companies if the quality of the art diminishes as fewer professionals can make a living and commit themselves to their craft? And as the catalogs get older and those whose memories were made with certain movies, music, and literature fade, they get less valuable. (Those Young adults in the 1950s are now in their 70s and reaching the end of their lives.) We have actually seen this trend coming, for instance, make a mental list of mega music groups from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and so on, look at the list get smaller as the years go on, the same with classic movies and television. There is a direct correlation between lowering the barriers to entry, All Skate, and the longevity and quality of the art that is produced and rises out of the crowd.
The music industry has tried to use network and cable television to create an elite status for its top musical acts. Its award shows have received elite status and have been heavily promoted. It shows that the public still wants to be engaged by elite talent.
Shows like American Idol have been used to develop and expose new talent to a prime-time TV audience, something the industry never really utilized properly, and look at the ratings! Cleverly they have made the public “all skate” as judges and stay engaged, while the task of picking talent was left to good casting agents. Imagine what the show’s ratings would be like if it was purely up to the three judges and the public voting was done away with?
American Idol shows that gatekeepers are still very important and that integrating popular culture, the “All Skate” philosophy somewhere in the chain is today necessary and beneficial. But as these shows start to decline in ratings, where do we now look to elevate certain talent above the masses? Even the networks see a rapid decline in viewership as viewing on-demand channels proliferate and what we watch on TV becomes an All Skate with no filtering.
Reading the numbers on Box Office receipts there is talk of the end of the movie-going experience. The physical book is disappearing following the demise of bookstores. So what does the future hold?