“If it doesn’t exist online, it doesn’t exist”

rtaI attended a conference run by the Australia Council and the ABC today called Revealing the Arts. OK, there’s a long way to go here, but it didn’t really come together and you got the feeling by the end of the day that the gap between the ‘geeks’ and the ‘luvvies’ is here to stay. Rights clearances, making money online, and paying for producing ancilliary content were discussed a lot at the expense of much thinking outside the square.  There was some lively discussion and one of the most salient points for me was ” if it doesn’t exist online it doesn’t exist”. While this comment obviously came from a geek (sorry it’s unattributed – I know it was a guy from Wikimedia who said it) it underlines the challenge that many institutions have in remaining relevant in a world where we increasingly rely on online services to keep us informed and connected at every moment.  There are huge challenges for national institutions and too often the focus is parochial rather than global. There are no easy answers but there is no excuse for burying our heads in the sand.

And while we’re nit picking, one extra-ordinary statement that got through without any challenge at all was ‘that you can’t make money on YouTube’. This isn’t an ad for Google but the YouTube Partnership program pays a percentage of advertising revenue to content creators and this scheme is well established. You can see YouTube’s top partners here. Well known YouTube directors such as Smosh and Fred have in excess of 300 million views of content on their channels and it is estimated they have each earned 6 figure sums from YouTube advertising income (actual amounts confidential under the partnership agreement). The ‘Will Video for Food’ blog has several citations which support this here. There are many business models if that’s what you’re looking for. But if you just want to get your stuff out there so people know you exist (and maybe then buy a ticket to your show or order your online merchandise) then you have to start giving something away. If you want to read any of the twitter discussion from today’s conference see #rtarts.

Late addition to this post:  I just picked up an email from a young guy I met at the SPAA Fringe Conference called Nick Carlton who has just posted this : You are not a filmmaker. Nick is one of Australia’s most successful online video entrepeneurs and at the age of 19 has garnered a large online audience for his Ozgirl property. Like the discussion today at Revealing the Arts he’s not hung up about being a ‘filmmaker’ or an ‘artist’ he just gets on with doing it. I for one admire that.

3 comments… add one

  • Karen Pearlman

    Nice Post, Peter. Your last point about not being hung up and just getting on with doing it is really important – reminds me of Richard Allen’s now famous and oft quoted line he delivered at a LAMP Story of the Future seminar in Melbourne. He said, quite simply: “Get over it”. Meaning it’s not about the media, its about the underlying principles, the premises, themes, stories, experiences that the arts can give us, and migrating our skills at creating these meaningful experiences from one media to another, not thinking that because our medium is a live one that that is the only way to create the experiences we create for audiences.

  • I would take it even further and say if it’s not being discussed – i.e. embeddable, spreadable, bloggable – then it doesnt exist. Anything online that is locked into a webpage that people must visit becomes invisible…

    Nice post 🙂

  • Peter Giles

    Thanks for your comments Karen and Laurel. A lot of the case studies shown yesterday were very static examples of online media and you’re right Laurel, just because material is online there’s no guarantee people will find it or discuss it.

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