Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine blogs today that "The fans are dicatating." He's talking about mass entertainment, but his point applies to all kinds of communication. He quotes a NY Times story about the public's role in creating entertainment stars:
In a world of broadband connections, 60-gigabyte MP3 players and custom playlists, consumers have perhaps more power than ever to indulge their curiosities beyond the music that is presented through the industry’s established outlets, primarily radio stations and MTV.
The title of Jarvis' post is based on a quote by John Janick, who co-founded an independent music label in Tampa. Janick continues, “It’s not as easy to shove something down people’s throats anymore and make them buy it. It’s not even that they are smarter; they just have everything at their fingertips. They can go find something that’s cool and different. They go tell people about it and it just starts spreading.”
Jarvis likes to say, "small is the new big." In today's post, he sums it up well: Is every star in the new world as big as the stars in the old world? No. But neither is the industry dependent on a blockbuster economy; success has new definitions and so does fame.
It's another embodiment of the Long Tail. People aren't forced to choose from 3 major TV networks. They're not forced to read only what's on the best-seller list. They're not required to listen only to Top 40 music.
I wrote a while back about the Second Front. Mass media has operated along the "First Front" for many years, bombarding consumers with messages intended to hit the most people with the broadest possible message. But new media (iPod, Tivo, the Internet), have enabled consumers to migrate to a "Second Front" for their information and entertainment. The Second Front is largely user-created, interactive, and free of traditional marketing. It's a series of niche communities centered on narrow interests. The NY Times article applies this to music, but it's happening everywhere else, too.