I got a little shout out at Ian David Moss’ recent post at Createquity for my recent blog post about diversity in the arts–Moss’ post actually is chock full of interesting links but this one, Why do we care about Football?, by Seth Godin caught my attention since I’ve been doing comparisons on the economic structure of sports and the arts. As I’ve said in the past, the economic and cultural infrastructure which allowed popular entertainment forms like Pop music and Sports helped to prop up the industries as much as, if not more than, anything else.
It’s not that Sports and Popular music are inherently more popular or entertaining than, say, classical music. Those industries just happened to exploit mass media and broadcast media forms in ways that classical music hasn’t. Sure, for a while even classical music benefited from the mass media and it is telling that the last cohort which has relatively high attendance at classical music events just happened to be the last cohort that were in their teens and early twenties just when classical music was on the television with any regularity.
Here’s what Godin says:
Going forward, no other sport will ever have a run like this, because the TV-cash part of the connection can’t be recreated. Mass TV built many elements of our culture, but mass TV (except for tonight) is basically over.
The new media giants of our age (Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.) don’t point everyone to one bit of content, don’t trade in mass. Instead, they splinter, connecting many to many, not many to one.
The cultural touchstones we’re building today are mostly not mass, mostly not for everyone. Instead, the process is Tribes -> Connections/communities -> Diverse impact. Without the mass engine of TV, it’s difficult to imagine it happening again. So instead we build our lives around cultural pockets, not cultural mass. Our job as marketers and leaders is to create vibrant pockets, not to hunt for mass.
In other words, we are slowly leaving the age of mass media and going into a much more fragmented marketplace. The Popular Music industry is hemorrhaging and the Sports Industry is in denial and will likely fight tooth and nail to maintain its status quo as a big money maker even if that means someone else gets to foot some of their bills.