"So there's no creative industry anymore; that's been democratized..."

Dr Eliza Filby on the Creatoville Live call

This quote stayed with me.

Eliza Filby is a contemporary historian who studies society through the prism of age and generations - from Baby Boomers to Generation Alpha - examining how the traditional lifecycle is being reordered and remade in the 21st century.

She joined me and Sandra Lehner to discuss how younger audiences think on this month's Creatorville Live call:

And from Eliza's external perspective, it is perfectly reasonable to see the institution-only era of content creation has now been fully disrupted.

Broadcasters, publishers and networks have lost their dominance of audience.

And no longer do you have to be a professional television producer, journalist or director to become successful.

Anyone can do it.

So how must the creative industries adapt?

Well, as Eliza says, you can think about opera vs rock and roll.

If you love singing, you can choose to become a rock singer.

With enthusiasm, effort and some training, you're good to go.

But it takes a long time and a lot of training to become a top opera singer. So, therefore, a huge barrier to success exists.

As a professional soprano, you'd expect less competition than if you start an indie band.

And so you have a defensible moat.

Although many YouTubers spend a lot on episodes of their shows, very few make content that is as good as shows made by premium broadcasters.

So the short-term opportunity for old-school media is to double down on premium experiences for older audiences.

And for creators, given the huge amount of competition out there, it's time to dominate your niche.

But the existential threat of Eliza's assertion remains true.

When I examine the commercial opportunities around professional content, they aren't really about the creation of that content any more.

And I can't see many great margins in the distribution game either.

Whilst existing heavyweights will continue to command significant commercial power, professional content is in decline.

Advertising is significantly down, audiences are increasingly fragmented and there is ever more content to battle against.

And this week, YouTube announced that it is planning to release generative AI capabilities to its platform.

The rise of generative AI means that very little human effort or money will be needed to produce content.

This inevitably leads to a gigantic oversupply.

Because broadcasters have less money to spend, many more choices on what to buy, and brilliant companies begin to close - like the wonderful Icon Films 😢

Giant corporates will rush to consolidate.

And the business model of TV production collapses for all but a few.

The new model will be a consolidated effort based around communities of prosumers.

What IS interesting for producers is how to leverage their existing brands, audiences and strengths.

Building their audiences into communities, and then offering those communities ways to interact and benefit is the way forward.

I was so interested to hear about Content Club - the new venture from BBC History alumni and entrepreneur John Farren.

They are making premium history films using Web3 to fund the production:

For a specific audience, this is a hugely exciting new way of being involved in the birth of content that will be of really great value to them.

So - do I believe the content industry is over?

Yes, most of the incumbent media businesses and the commercial models that have supported them will wither and die over the next couple of decades.

But as ever, a new set of brands, businesses, characters and approaches will rise from the ashes and create amazing new ways to entertain, inform and empower.

Sam Barcroft

Sam Barcroft

Creative entrepreneur and strategist with over 30 years experience of building media businesses