The lovely and talented Felicia Day (probably best known by my readers as Penny from Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog) is the creator and writer for a great little web series called The Guild, available at www.watchtheguild.com. If you haven’t caught this groovy little series about a group of MMO players, you should give it a look, especially since the second season will be starting up on November 25th.
Because of her success with The Guild (and, peripherally, Doctor Horrible), Felicia gave a talk at NewTeeVee, talking about New Media, web content, and how many of the people in Hollywood (or at least, those in charge of things) are vaguely interested, but don’t really ‘get it’.
I find it interesting, but not terribly surprising, that this is the case. If you recall the distant past of 2007, when the Writers Guild of America went on strike, one of the lynchpins of the WGA’s stance was that writers should receive some kind of compensation for online content they produce for the studios, but also that online ‘broadcasts’ of material should be taken into account when it comes to residuals. It all hinged on New Media, and while there are clearly a number of people who do get it, clearly the people with the big money (and looking to make even bigger money), don’t.
Web-based content is fundamentally different than traditional studio content (even niche studio content). There’s been a lot of discussion on various fora about how you no longer need to get millions (or even hundreds of thousands) of people to consume your product to be successful when it comes to the web — all you need are a couple thousand devoted fans. It takes work to earn them (you can’t just slap up a site and expect the masses to come), but they are invaluable to the success of any ‘net-based project.
The advantage is, with the internet, you are truly pulling your audience from a global community (at least, the global community with internet access). You’re not restricted by licensing deals, region restrictions, or any of the rest of that. In this environment, niche marketing, and niche targeting are the keys to success. The goal is to find your specific audience and hook them in. This is, in so many ways, the antithesis of traditional media marketing, where the idea is (generally speaking) to throw material out there on as broad a distribution as possible and hope that enough of it sticks to make a profit.
People like Felicia are on the leading edge of a revolution, and it’s really cool to watch this sort of thing develop.