The seed of this apocalyptic rant was planted off-the-cuffly last week when I tweeted the following:
Old JFL: "Our next act appeared on Letterman and had his own HBO special."
In essence, the point is that at Just For Laughs, Gala show hosts are usually handed credits as a way to establish importance of the acts they are about to introduce.
New JFL: "Our next act has 10 million YouTube hits."
In my first stint here, said credits usually took the form of TV shows these acts were on.
Last week, I heard Australia's Axis of Awesome lay down their YouTube stats as their cred establisher.
Thats's one small step for a host, once giant leap for showbiz.
So here's this week's brain-splattering lesson:
Them's tough words, but they're true.
The music biz is just the canary in the coalmine; The Web is about to destroy and overhaul all of showbiz as we know it.
The evidence is everywhere.
Last week, Tom Silverman, founder of Tommy Boy Records dropped this bomb at his New Music Seminar in New York:
Of the some 100,000 albums released last year, 17,000 of them sold only one (!) copy
More than 81,000 albums sold under 100 copies.
Just 1,300 albums sold over 10,000 copies (an astonishing figure given that these numbers combine physical and digital album sales)
But this type of paradigm shift (now there's a term I'm sure you haven't heard in a while!) is happening everywhere in the world of leisure:
- Amazon reported that digital ebooks are now outselling its hardcovers.
- The geeks have inherited the earth and now rule Hollywood's roost thanks to Comic-Con.
- Other than tentpole events, more TV is timeshifted than watched live...and watched on devices other than TVs.
- Green Day is simultaneously appearing in huge outdoor concerts, on Broadway and in Rockband.
Walking the Just For Laughs site last week, the digital divide was eye-poppingly evident. Live bands were replaced by iPod-packing DJs. Promotional flyers littered the ground as kids tweeted or texted reviews of shows, and intentions of attending them. Our Zoofest shows were packed with crowds who probably never read a newspaper in their lives, let alone be influenced by ads within them.
Consider the conversation I had with Guy Gal, a 26-year-old online video producer, a few weeks ago in Toronto. He was about to attend a Just For Laughs Festival Gala hosted by Louis CK. He learned the comedian was touring from one of CK's Tweets. He clicked on the URL, and bought tickets. And here's what's scary: Despite the fact that he was going to the show, he had no idea it was part of Just For Laughs. Worse yet, he had no clue Just For Laughs was even in town.
The Web is changing, and will continue to at a dizzying pace, the way people find out about shows, the way they buy tickets to them, the way they attend them, the way shows are marketed and--most notably--the content of the shows themselves.
Given AttentionSpan 3.0, how can I continue to shoot TV shows on a single-focused, old-Broadway-styled stage, and present them to an at-home audience with only one moving image on screen at a time?
Jeez, do I have my work cut out for me here.
So, to channel the spirit of P.T. Barnum, I invite you to step right up. Wanna really see something spectacular? Sit back and watch the greatest show of all:
To start, enjoy Axis Of Awesome...and add yet another view to their YouTube deluge.