Here's the Lance Weiler presentation from last week's Power to the Pixel conference in London in which Lance shares his view about where storytelling is going.
What's very interesting to me is that I've been looking at the same issues and coming up with similar conclusions. Where I believe we share a common outlook are:
- discovery is the single biggest issue facing filmmakers
- movies are going to be free for most people (as music is now) but just giving the movie away isn't going to help it get found
- to crack the discovery issue we need to go transmedia and this ultimately means we need to think of our movies as "services" rather than "products"
- our future business model lies in enhancing social experiences (but that still means someone can enjoy the experience in solitude)
Why do we need to go transmedia? Well, because the same story can reach out to many different audience segments (via the different media) and for any given segment it potentially increases the number of touch-points (meaning that the more someone sees or hears about your "movie" the more likely they are to take an interest in it).
Why does transmedia result in services rather than products? Well, because building relationships and creating experiences means an ongoing commitment to the audience and not just a final product that's put on a shelf to be sold. This is already evident with RPGs where people have invested hours of time playing and building their own internal world. And I can say from my own experience that if someone doesn't develop a Commonwealth expansion pack for Fallout 3 so I can see what's happened to Dr Li then I'm going to be very upset!
In designing the open-source Parasites transmedia project, I've taken the audience' social needs as the starting point for developing the project, as the diagram below shows.
Show me the money
Lance presents the idea of leveraging the data that surrounds your "movie" and using the information you collect about the audience to make money. There's definitely an opportunity here and it's an approach already being taken by many companies (see Free by Chris Anderson for the examples).
The problem with building a business plan on data comes if you need to sell it to a third party; because then you need the permission of your audience to capture and sell it. And of course you need someone willing to buy the data that isn't directly enjoying the experience you created. Both invite conflicts.
You could, however, effectively sell the data back to the audience in the guise of an improved experience but then the data is an enabler rather than the service that's bought.
My opinion, as built into the Parasites business model, is that there is evidence that people will pay for the following:
- utility - think benefits of physical book over digital book or download over streaming
- convenience - pay to get it in this place, right now vs I get it for free later
- personalization - pay to get a bespoke, tailored version vs the free general version
- merchandise - pay for physical products that fulfill social needs (to look cool, insider/outsider)
These are the four pillars of future business models and it need not rely on massive audiences. But it does rely on a greater understanding not only of audiences but of people.
If you're in any doubt about these ideas, ask yourself why people pay premium-prices for a cellphone ringtone that lasts a few seconds but won't buy a three minute song?