This Ain’t Schwab’s, And You Ain’t Lana Turner

I just read a post on Mashable that refers to an LA Weekly article about Hollywood agents scouting for talent on YouTube and other new media sites. Apparently there are some new media folks who are hoping to be “discovered” by Hollywood.
Folks, YouTube ain’t Schwabs Drug Store and you ain’t Lana Turner. And you should be glad of it!

I’ve worked 30 years in mainstream media, and while I still host traditional TV and radio shows, I’m also building a career in new media, and I can assure you new is much more fun and lucrative than old and it’s only going to get better.

First of all, Hollywood’s streets aren’t lined with gold. Most people in old media aren’t getting rich. For every Andy Samberg there are hundreds, no thousands of people who are just making a living. They’re wage slaves who would love to get even a fraction of the big bucks the executives, agents, and stars make. Most importantly they don’t have any control over what they do. Only a handful of the most successful content creators get to call their own shots in mainstream media.

To quote Hunter S. Thompson,

The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.

He understates the case.

The other reason to stay the course and avoid the blandishments of old media is that new media is replacing old media. It’s the future. Thinking that success in new media means making it into old media is as silly as pursuing a career in rocket science with the hope that you can get into making buggy whips. The future is ours, baby.

Furthermore, advertising dollars are moving out of old media and into new media – and this process will accelerate because advertising to weakly-engaged inattentive old media audiences just doesn’t work. Advertisers are flocking to my podcasts because at $35 per thousand listeners they offer remarkable value.

These UTA agents are carpetbaggers from Hollywood who have no idea what’s happening to their business and will no doubt remained convinced that the Hollywood system is the only way to create content and reach an audience long after the audience has left them in the dust. Ignore their offers, take it from a long time old media guy, you’ve got it much better where you are.

19 Replies to “This Ain’t Schwab’s, And You Ain’t Lana Turner”

  1. Yes indeed, great post Leo. It’s silly for new media people to want to get “discovered” by old media. That just tells me they don’t get it.@Timothy Liebe, you’re right, new media ain’t there yet. However, I think waiting for it to become mainstream might be waiting too long. Take Alex for example, he already seems to be doing well in the new media space. I just think he realizes the opportunity that’s ahead of those making this content.

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  2. Leo – How do we get the “masses” into this stuff? We need a successful hardware box to bring podcasts into the living room. Readers of our site are into all this stuff, but explaining it to the rest of the world that’s not interested in the technology is a lot more difficult. Hopefully there will be an “ipod for the living room” soon, maybe AppleTV Mk2? that’ll do this. Then you’re going to take over the world! 😉
    M.

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  3. Plus the fact that traditional media soon will be looking to this online content to use on TV and cable channels because of the writers strike lets face it with out writers all you got is news and reality shows in my opinion there is not better time to be a online content creator…JS

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  4. Leo – I’d say yes…and no. It’s true that more people are turning to “new media” and it will become mainstream eventually, I think there’s still a good five-ten years at least before it’s on par with traditional television and radio, let alone outstripping it. You yourself have said on occasion that podcasting’s popularity seems to have plateau’d – and unless the Zune Store’s podcasting feature duplicates or exceeds iTunes’ in new audience, and MS expands podcast support to Windows Media Player, I think it will remain so for the foreseeable future.
    In the meantime, how much marketing or advertising does any new media project get compared to a show on expanded cable, to say nothing of big television networks or radio? How much will its creators get paid, compared to the people working for a cable, over-the-air television or radio show? Just about every podcaster, yourself included, are podcasting as an avocation while holding down day jobs – Because the Market Share and Money Just Isn’t There Yet. It’s perfectly sensible to me that most podcasters are hoping to get picked up for a better-paying network job….
    I would be frankly delighted to be proven wrong on this – but even the biggest New Media optimist I know of, Alex Lindsay, is pinning his hopes on a protracted Writers’ Guild of America strike to drive a bigger audience to podcasting. The relative lack of success of Apple TV and xBox Media Center suggests to me that the majority of viewers STILL prefer to get their television either recorded off the air for free, or in a season’s DVD boxed set – while the paradigm shift to downloadable music has already occurred, for video most people still prefer to either pay nothing, or if they pay to have something tangible for their money.
    Yes, New Media’s the future – but it’s not the NEAR future yet.

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  5. Great post, and it discuses something i have been always telling people:
    been in youtube, having a podcast, is not a crazy man busines and i´m surly not trying to get in real radio or tv, i just want to be “succesfull” in the actual Internet… thats it…
    The thing is i think ahead, and that is way… once the “future” arrives, i´ll be the next John stewart

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  6. I appreciate the fact you’ve gone public with your ad rates! I know the TWIT network is fairly high profile but does this set the benchmark for ad rates on podcasts?
    I certainly hope not as I hate the concept of CPM as this does not take into account the “cost of influence” and the unique relationship that podcasters have with their audience, but perhaps this is just a start?
    http://podcast-monetizer.com/blog/archives/16

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  7. Leo – Great post. I guess people don’t understand what the word “New” means. If you go to buy a car, would you rather by a “new” car or an old used car? At least I prefer a new one, but that is just me.

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  8. […] This Ain’t Schwab’s, And You Ain’t Lana Turner The other reason to stay the course and avoid the blandishments of old media is that new media is replacing old media. It’s the future. Thinking that success in new media means making it into old media is as silly as pursuing a career in rocket science with the hope that you can get into making buggy whips. The future is ours, baby.Furthermore, advertising dollars are moving out of old media and into new media – and this process will accelerate because advertising to weakly-engaged inattentive old media audiences just doesn’t work. Advertisers are flocking to my podcasts because at $35 per thousand listeners they offer remarkable value. November 19, 2007 – Web, Media – […]

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  9. I think Hollywood is void of ideas. There have been a few from Youtube who have been noticed, like that guy/girl who cried for Britney. There may be a rare case of making it, and maybe a small film may get noticed, but like Leo said, there really is so little chance. Well put

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  10. Having worked in both (and favoring new media), as well as spoke and taught sessions, the first thing I tell people wanting to be in TV or film that they most likely WILL NOT be an anchor in the top ten markets, and this field is NOT about getting your name in lights.
    If you motivation is getting your name in lights – and not the craft – you’re going to be disappointed. And if you do make it, the chances are that you’ll be owned.
    If your motivation is love of your craft, then you’re going to do all right.
    And if your true motivation is love of your craft, and you’re skilled – go online. I went and have listened to the first hour of that Microtrends book you recommended and it’s completely spot on.
    It’s amazing – there is really so little real money in broadcast TV that online actually makes monetary sense.

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  11. Joey -I actually think Alex Lindsay’s at that unfortunately common tipping point where he’s Doing Well Enough That He Really Should Be Doing Better. He’s got his production quality stabilized so he can consistently turn out good-looking short HD video productions, but he’s still doing just about everything himself while scrambling for paying gigs to keep things running – so a lot of his independent stuff (like TWiM and MACBREAK) gets shunted aside time and again. With a kid on the way, he’ll have even less time to devote to his own stuff – so if he doesn’t tip over into enough success that he can pay a staff to take care of the paying gigs soon, he’ll tip back to having to work on paying gigs exclusively for a while at least. I’ve seen it happen to creative people trying to run their own businesses numerous times in the past – I’ve even been a part of a few of those businesses, and the failure-to-success ratio is VERY high.
    Mark – let’s hope somebody comes up w/that box, and soon! 🙂 That really would radically change the game in favor of New Media, b/c while I’m fine with playing video files off my iPod into my HDTV using a special cable, it’s apparently “too hard” for most people to manage. I’m sure you’ve had the aunt or cousin or sibling who’s needed you to plug the included(!) A/V cable from their camcorder into their the A/V input of VCR to they could transfer their home videos over to VHS(!!)…and if you haven’t, would you like to trade families? Please?
    I really had hopes the Apple TV, or xBox Media Center, Slingbox or even TiVO would be that box – and any one of them could easily be that, with just a tweak or two and the right programming. But I’ve got a TiVO Series 2 from DirecTV, and despite being savvy enough to be the “Tech Guy” for my friends and family I can’t for the life of me figure out how to set the damned thing up so I can watch TiVO Central.

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  12. I’m still freaked that Leo Laporte (read Mr. Goodness & Light) quoted Hunter S. Thompson. I feel like by “better angles was seen having coffe with my “inner demons”.
    And by the way, yes, a great post.

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