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Author Topic: Why would anyone pay for content if it is not by someone famous?  (Read 6917 times)

landscapephoto

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Why would anyone pay for content if it is not by someone famous?
« on: February 05, 2016, 07:27:16 AM »

There was an interesting discussion started over in the MF section, but it probably is more appropriate here. This is the post that started it:

I had lunch today with my ex-boss, an editor-in-chief who employed me as a journo for 4 years back before I went back to school to do my PhD, and before the web starved print media. He is a respected media consultant now.  Sometimes he explains some arty stuff to me, sometimes I tell him about how geeks see a piece of tech. So I showed him some fiction I wrote last week, noted that as far as I could see these 500 word short shorts were worth about $20 on the open market, asked him -he paid me well for years as a tech writer- whether I had any chance of selling this new half-good stuff I'm playing with.

And he came back with the strangest fastest reply: "WHY WOULD ANYONE PAY FOR CONTENT IF IT IS NOT BY SOMEONE FAMOUS" ? Now, this guy, I respect him for his phenomenal intuition, and he wasn't making fun of me, he had just realized how much the world of written content has changed ...

Edmund

Some examples where given, most notably:
-Richard Prince, who turned Instagram pictures into $100000 prints, just because of his name
-Brooklyn Beckham, who got to shot Burberry’s last campaign and gave them access to the 5.9 millions followers of his instagram account.

In short: celebrity sells and for a lot of money.
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AreBee

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Re: Why would anyone pay for content if it is not by someone famous?
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2016, 09:10:54 AM »

landscapephoto,

Quote
Why would anyone pay for content if it is not by someone famous?

Simply because they like it, want it, and can afford it.
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GrahamBy

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Re: Why would anyone pay for content if it is not by someone famous?
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2016, 10:16:56 AM »

It does suggest that there is no longer just the opposition between new and old money, but new and old fame. Just the opposite of Warhol's prediction..
Piketty's work on capital concentration gives a good analysis of the dominance of dynastic fortunes in a non-expanding economy, but it's interesting to think how that might work for fame. It used to be that one became famous for doing stuff, but in a world where competence has little weight in the value of the final product, it might be a better strategy to invest in someone who is already famous... and if fame is inherited, that can apply also in the youth market.
The fascinating question is whether fame passes to the third generation: Posh and Becks had talent, we'll have to wait another 30 years to see how much capital there is in being the offspring of someone famous only for being the child of celebrities.
But hey, maybe he'll turn out to be a good photographer?
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landscapephoto

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Re: Why would anyone pay for content if it is not by someone famous?
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2016, 11:16:07 AM »

Simply because they like it, want it, and can afford it.

OK. Obviously, there are still some people buying prints from not insanely famous photographers or hiring photographers to shoot special occasions, catalogues, etc... I am not disputing that.

But there are less and less of them and more and more content to be had for free. Plenty of it is very good. And it is not only photography, music sees the same evolution. So, enormous amount of content is to be had for free and I think that is what the citation refers to.

On the opposite spectrum, you have large amounts of public being prepared to pay, as long as a celebrity is involved. Probably, they are not really paying for the "content", but rather for the privilege of being a fan of the celebrity (think about brands "endorsed" by a celebrity", for example in clothing).

I have a feeling that all this is indeed a worrying trend.
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Why would anyone pay for content if it is not by someone famous?
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2016, 11:21:14 AM »

Is there a question or a point in this thread? Other than "duh!" (i.e., stating the obvious)?

GrahamBy

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Re: Why would anyone pay for content if it is not by someone famous?
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2016, 11:36:42 AM »

It's a re-run of the "photography has become technically trivial" discussion, really...
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landscapephoto

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Re: Why would anyone pay for content if it is not by someone famous?
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2016, 02:18:08 AM »

Is there a question or a point in this thread? Other than "duh!" (i.e., stating the obvious)?

You don't have to participate. Personally, I found the remark about new and old fame interesting. Also: I had not realised that Instagram had evolved to a massive propaganda machine. I was still under the idea that it was an application to beautify the images from one's smartphone and share them between a small collection of friends.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2016, 02:21:16 AM by landscapephoto »
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landscapephoto

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Re: Why would anyone pay for content if it is not by someone famous?
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2016, 02:22:56 AM »

"How social media is transforming the fashion industry"
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35483480


"In some cases, not just the models but the entire backstage team - including the make-up artists, stylists and producers - are selected according to their influence on social media.
"We won't do a photoshoot that goes on a billboard somewhere unless everyone involved has some sort of [social media] following and some sort of leverage," says Mr Venneri."

"Behind-the-scenes pictures and videos shared on its Instagram and Snapchat feeds of the Brooklyn shoot had some 15 million impressions in the eight hours the shoot was live.
The fashion retailer has nearly 40 million followers across 20 different social media platforms and openly admits that it has become as much a media content producer as a design company."
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GrahamBy

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Re: Why would anyone pay for content if it is not by someone famous?
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2016, 04:34:36 PM »

Also: I had not realised that Instagram had evolved to a massive propaganda machine.

I have some would-be artist friends who take follower-numbers on instagram very seriously, although Beckham Jr's 6 million follows makes their efforts look rather ridiculous. I have heard a 2nd hand story (literally the friend of a friend) who managed to launch a career as a food photographer through social media: while working as a casual waiter in various posh restaurants around Europe, he was snapping the food and posting the images on instagram... built up a following, got offered paid work, grabbed the opportunity two-handed and is now able to buy his meals :)
« Last Edit: February 07, 2016, 04:45:20 PM by GrahamBy »
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landscapephoto

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Re: Why would anyone pay for content if it is not by someone famous?
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2016, 06:13:47 AM »

There are many photographers who use Instagram as a promotion channel. An example is mustafaseven with 1.5 million followers. With this amount of followers, marketers will be interested in your Instagram stream. Celebrities streams will still be more valuable, though.

There are a few consequences, though. First, Instagram is not really a user generated site any more. Under a few 100K followers, you are not significant and to get that amount of followers one has to approach the problem as a professional: the sheer number of pictures which must be posted regularly and the time taken to respond to post and promote the stream makes it an almost full time job. Second, it is a process that leaves little artistic freedom: because one needs to post a continuous stream of pictures and because the source of the pictures must be immediately recognised, successful instagrammers usually concentrate on a single subject and a few processing types, making running their stream a largely automated process.
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landscapephoto

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Re: Why would anyone pay for content if it is not by someone famous?
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2016, 08:11:06 AM »

On the same subject, a video by hacker artist Constant Dullaart, who tried to demonstrate the problems underlying social validation by actually creating an army of followers and see what would happen.

The conference was presented in the latest chaos computer club congress and can be seen or downloaded here: https://media.ccc.de/v/32c3-7517-the_possibility_of_an_army

A fascinating show. The part about the army, facebook and instagram starts at 17:00.
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eronald

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Re: Why would anyone pay for content if it is not by someone famous?
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2016, 02:20:23 PM »

When I interviewed Stephen Eastwood some years ago, who was moderately well known as a fashion/beauty photographer, he told me he had 3 people somewhere (India? ) just to scan through his email, as he got a lot of it and could not afford to lose potential work. A million followers, if you're a working stiff, will probably generate about 1K messages. Of course, if you are "famous" you don't care about these messages as you are above the fray, as a supernatural being.

Edmund

There are many photographers who use Instagram as a promotion channel. An example is mustafaseven with 1.5 million followers. With this amount of followers, marketers will be interested in your Instagram stream. Celebrities streams will still be more valuable, though.

There are a few consequences, though. First, Instagram is not really a user generated site any more. Under a few 100K followers, you are not significant and to get that amount of followers one has to approach the problem as a professional: the sheer number of pictures which must be posted regularly and the time taken to respond to post and promote the stream makes it an almost full time job. Second, it is a process that leaves little artistic freedom: because one needs to post a continuous stream of pictures and because the source of the pictures must be immediately recognised, successful instagrammers usually concentrate on a single subject and a few processing types, making running their stream a largely automated process.
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landscapephoto

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Re: Why would anyone pay for content if it is not by someone famous?
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2016, 04:07:12 PM »

When I interviewed Stephen Eastwood some years ago, who was moderately well known as a fashion/beauty photographer, he told me he had 3 people somewhere (India? ) just to scan through his email, as he got a lot of it and could not afford to lose potential work. A million followers, if you're a working stiff, will probably generate about 1K messages. Of course, if you are "famous" you don't care about these messages as you are above the fray, as a supernatural being.

Well... I would bet good money that Brooklyn Beckham is not running the whole show alone, but for photographers like mustaphaseven, I am less sure.

Did you have a look at the video from Constant Dullaart? It is really good.
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eronald

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Re: Why would anyone pay for content if it is not by someone famous?
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2016, 04:39:50 PM »

Well... I would bet good money that Brooklyn Beckham is not running the whole show alone, but for photographers like mustaphaseven, I am less sure.

Did you have a look at the video from Constant Dullaart? It is really good.

Here is the english-only link; I need somewhere to save it :)
http://mirror.netcologne.de/CCC/congress/2015/h264-hd-web/32c3-7517-en-the_possibility_of_an_army.mp4
SKIP TO MINUTE 17.

Edmund
« Last Edit: February 08, 2016, 05:00:39 PM by eronald »
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GrahamBy

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Re: Why would anyone pay for content if it is not by someone famous?
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2016, 04:09:12 AM »

That was quite enlightening, thanks :-)
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Rob C

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Re: Why would anyone pay for content if it is not by someone famous?
« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2016, 09:54:17 AM »

That was quite enlightening, thanks :-)

Another by-product of retirement is that one no longer gives a fig about popularity and the effort to try and sell self; now that's truly liberating! I have never been in Effbook nor any of those traps; the closest I got was to find myself lightly enmeshed in Linkedin, where I get asked if I know neighbours... it's funny seeing their 'descriptions' yet knowing the realities!

;-)

Rob C

GrahamBy

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Re: Why would anyone pay for content if it is not by someone famous?
« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2016, 10:39:52 AM »

What I found particularly interesting was his account of the NYT reporter changing the story to fit her ideas. An epidemiologist friend had a similar experience several years ago, when several journalists simply hung up once it was clear she wasn't willing to tell them what fitted their ideas but wasn't supported by her research.
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RSL

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Re: Why would anyone pay for content if it is not by someone famous?
« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2016, 10:51:36 AM »

Is there a question or a point in this thread? Other than "duh!" (i.e., stating the obvious)?

"Duh" is right, Slobodan. The question isn't even stated correctly. Someone who buys something created by a famous "artist" such as Jackson Pollock isn't buying "content;" he's buying an object. That's especially clear in Pollock's case since the "content" is a collection of drips. The whole art auction scam is an illustration in spades of Barnum's maxim.

GrahamBy

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Re: Why would anyone pay for content if it is not by someone famous?
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2016, 12:31:13 PM »

Yes and no. The absurdity of market pricing of art as scarce, tradeable objects is equally true of a van Gogh selling for $100 million, when i can have the same sensoreal pleasure from a good quality print. Imagine if literature worked the same way: no one would care much about reading, only about owning a first edition...

The question of whether a Pollock or a potato or Duchamp's urinal or a bicycle wheel is art is a separate question, since there is no workable definition of art. Arguing about whether X is Y when you can't define Y is an inevitable waste of time. I have enjoyed looking at several Pollocks.

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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Why would anyone pay for content if it is not by someone famous?
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2016, 01:00:48 PM »

Facture?

Uniqueness and originality.
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