If you do nothing else for yourself this week, take a half hour someplace quiet and watch Professor Jonathan Taplin’s remarkably insightful presentation at the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab, “Sleeping Through A Revolution.” Taplin gives a clear eyed history of the Silicon Valley unifying ideology that rationalizes events like 350 million take down notices as a product feature of Google search and selling advertising against ISIS videos in YouTubeistan.
Taplin also suggests the core parameters on a level that is equal parts moral examination, industrial strategy and human protectionism to try to save the creative class, especially the middle class artist who is so important in our increasingly hit driven business. A trend only compounded by the failed “democratization” of the Internet.
He also gives the lie to the core disconnect with the collision of Silicon Valley with musicians, film makers, visual artists and all the creative categories: The role of a record company or film studio is not to promote someone who is already popular, but to introduce someone deserving to a larger audience.
And help them stay alive long enough to find their audience. That has nothing to do with YouTube views–and Taplin observes, Bob Dylan’s first album sold 4,000 copies. If John Hammond (Dylan’s legendary A&R man at Columbia Records) hadn’t fought to do a second one, the world would have lost a great talent. Would the current system produce a John Hammond who went on to sign Stevie Ray Vaughn? If it doesn’t produce a John Hammond will the accountants let it produce a Bob Dylan?
When talent is gone, they’re gone forever.
Every city, state, country and human being should be very concerned about the hollowing out of creators, and Taplin articulates a succinct thesis for recognizing the problem and addressing it.