or What Has to Happen if Your Industry is Changing Rapidly
So here’s the thing that’s been bugging me for ages now. It’s a bit of an elephant in the room, and you know what? It’s time we talked about it.
It’s the Business owner who bitches and moans to their clients, to try and guilt trip people into making purchases. (you know what? I doesn’t work- surprise!!)
There are a number of industries that are in flux at the moment; external forces that are out of our control forcing changes that we could never have envisaged. The music industry is an obvious one. Can you name me one record store that still trades in your local shopping centre?
Photography is another example of an industry in flux, and in the equestrian and pet world there are a lot of very scared artists wondering how they are going to pay their bills next week.
As an artist, who has chosen to build their career through that art, when faced with these kinds of changes, you can react in one of two ways.
You can react as a result of fear, with negativity, panic tactics and no long-term vision.
Or, you can react as a result of innovation.
Being a good equestrian or pet photographer takes skill.
To be a great photographer takes talent, dedication, and eye for composition and great skill, (notice I didn’t list equipment in there?) and that unique artist’s eye for the moment, that in all honesty, very few people have.
The influx of “every man and his dog” picking up a digital SLR and fancying themselves a photographer has changed the industry, no doubt about it. At horse shows all over the country (and the world) there are a multitude of people out there snapping shots and then listing them on websites for sale, or- gasp! Posting them on their facebook pages for free!
The barrier to entry to become an event photographer is low. But you know what? The barrier to entry to get into a whole heap of different businesses is low.
Take retail for example. When I owned Bit Bank, the barrier to entry for someone else opening an identical business was very low. In fact, there’s a copy-cat business out there now, just as there are copy cat retail stores popping up every single day on the internet. Its just a fact of business- do something well, and others will want a piece of the action.
So, why do I see, on an almost weekly basis, photographers naming and shaming potential customers when they share watermarked photos? Why do I see photographers moaning on their business pages about how hard it is to do what they do? Why do I see far too often photographers whinging and whining and dreaming of the past when they had little or no competition to obsess over?
Face it. Those days are over.
Instead of winging about it, why not look at doing things differently? Why not look to innovate?
There are a whole HEAP of ways that event photographers can improve the consistency of the cashflow in their businesses, of which I won’t go into in detail today. There are photographers out there doing things their own way, and doing so successfully. There are people out there who are innovating and leading the pack, and doing so with great success.
Instead, I want to look to another creative genre as an example of how artists in an industry in flux chose to innovate and profit, rather than wallow, whinge and whine, and wish for the past.
Musicians the world over are looking for ways to evolve in a modern world where the days of music stores hiring extra security for album release dates from super star bands are nothing more than a faded dream. Modern music listeners are not that attached to the ownership of the work, most are simply happy to stream what they like today. Most are also perfectly happy to share and download works for free- illegally or with the artist’s blessing.
This shift has seen MASSIVE change in the music industry, for the artists, the performers, the record labels and not in the least, the record store- which is almost extinct as a business model.
Artists and producers are therefore constantly looking for new ways to create income and value from their works. The rise in touring and live events is one way that musicians are generating income for their work. (Patreon is another- but that’s a topic for another blog)
This year, the massive rap band collective, The Wu Tang Clan, looked at the sales results from their last release- only around 60,000 copies- and decided to do their next release differently.
They actually looked way back into the past, to a time of wealthy patrons commissioning a work just for themselves, something unique, never to be shared. The Clan created and worked on a 31 track album with the view to only ever releasing one single copy.
“The group decided that a single buyer could own it completely… as long as that buyer would agree to never sell the album commercially. Bloomberg explained the possible outcomes of such a situation:
That meant the owner could listen to the record in a soundproof room, drive a pickup truck over it, or release it for free on the Internet. If the owner desired, he could be the only one who ever heard it. In an era where people are happy to stream music rather than actually possess it, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin offered a chance to own something truly unique.”
Caroline Framke, http://www.vox.com/2015/12/11/9891294/wu-tang-clan-shaolin-shkreli-bill-murray
I find this event fascinating on many levels. I’m certainly not a Wu Tang Clan fan, so it’s not about their music for me. I am absolutely a music lover, and I buy, download and stream music, as well as regularly attending live events.
The ownership of and payment of a work of art like music, (or photography) is an area that has been hugely disrupted in the digital age.
You could argue the same for education, design, film and TV work… the list goes on.
Many have lamented the disruption, and fought against it. Many have complained and argued that what we have now is wrong, and needs to be changed back.
Others have accepted the changes, and looked instead to innovate. Those people have seen the opportunities that lie behind the disruption, and are grabbing them with both hands.
Almost on a daily basis I see equine sport photographers or pet photographers complaining about their work being stolen, and their work at events or on location not being valued for it’s true worth.
Don’t get me wrong- copyright is like a god to me, and plagiarism the work of the devil, so I agree with them that posting and sharing photos taken by a professional but not paid for (often with the watermark displayed proudly) absolutely is theft.
I’m guessing though, that those same photographers have the odd copied album from their favourite performer, and the illegal download of series 5 of Game of Thrones.
It’s time we stop complaining and lamenting the changes that have been thrust upon us, and instead look for the opportunities they present. Instead of naming and shaming, it’s time to innovate and try something different to the rest of the crowd.
Why not consider how to increase the value of what you offer to your prospects in a way that makes you truly irresistible?
Oh- and that album? It sold for over $2M and is a truly unique, and very valuable work of art.
This is just one example of a huge marketing mistake- guilt tripping your potential clients. I’ve listed 5 more in this free report for you to download. I bet you’re making at least 2 of them right now… want to know what they are? Click below-