Wednesday, October 25, 2006

When Bloggers Became Authors, and Didn't

Just a short post because I thought this NY Times article felt familiar somehow. Some agents at United Talent in LA are now searching the internet for talented folks producing popular web videos and posting them on YouTube or wherever. They're signing them up and putting them to work "in Web-based advertising and entertainment, as well as in the older media."
“It starts with just helping identify people on both sides of the aisle,” said Brent Weinstein, head of the new division, UTA Online. “The barrier to entry is so low, everybody is now a potential artist. So there’s this great unwashed of talent out there, 99.999 percent of which is probably not good enough to have a traditional film and television career. But on the Internet, a lot of different types of things go. And yet for buyers, this is a wall of people, so how does a brand know which one of them can help it execute?”

This made me think of the rush to acquire books by bloggers. Editors signed anything and everything, and then Publishers Weekly did a piece discussing all these newly signed authors (reposted on a blog here). There was a skeptic quoted in that piece:
Not everyone, though, is convinced that bloggers' skills translate to longer-form books. "The style of blog writing is more oriented towards short form one page, set in the moment," said Scott Rettberg, an assistant professor of new media studies at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in Pomona. "The sense of immediacy is quite important in blogs."

These United Talent folks might be smarter in their efforts to sign these folks:
“In the old days, i.e., two months ago, it was about signing up those clients and immediately figuring out how to flip them into traditional media,” Mr. Weinstein said. “Now we can look at an artist and say, that might be a goal, but in the interim, or while we’re doing that, or instead of that, how can we monetize their interests online?”

I guess this is a bit more like seeing a painter who does beautiful work, and encouraging her or him to take a commission from Coca-Cola. Seems pretty dirty to me, but maybe I'm giving too much credit to the people who post videos on YouTube?

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