Our consumption of media has slowly shifted over the last few decades, thanks to the steady rise in internet usage. This shift has largely moved from an ownership model to one of rentals through streaming services — whether it be music, movies, television or, more recently, games.
However, this shift has been anything but slow in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has forced this mode of consumption on all of us. It isn’t that the pandemic has changed our ways, but rather it has accelerated an eventual outcome that the entertainment industry has been pushing toward for quite some time.
What these industries weren’t quite ready for was the rapid shift in content creation as well. We are in the midst of a collision of rapid shifts in both consumption and creation of media that promises to shake up the entire industry for years to come.
We will undoubtedly get through this pandemic. But, to claim that things will simply return to “normal” is missing the point. We’ve already settled into a new normal, and there is no going back. Now is the time to build flexibility into your creative processes or be left by the wayside as new models take root.
Everyone has had to figure out their remote creative processes on the fly this year. It hasn’t been an easy process, but it has been necessary for the well-being of our communities and teams. However, this shift shouldn’t be viewed as a temporary stopgap until vaccines are widely available.
The way we work as teams has fundamentally shifted, and if you want to survive in the new normal, you need to shape your workflows and processes around working remotely by default. This means finding new ways for teams to collaborate virtually, share company culture, communicate new ideas and get the resources they need to be successful. This isn’t just about moving old processes and workflows online, but fundamentally rethinking how we do creative work.
With remote work comes the ability to build a diverse team. When you are no longer constrained by the physical boundaries of proximity to an office, you can change your thinking about how a team is built. Building a diverse team from all corners of the country, or even the world, can yield a variety of benefits to the creative process.
For one, you’ve now increased your talent pool by several orders of magnitude. You also open your team up to a diversity of ideas and backgrounds, which has always been a vital piece of the creative process for any type of media creation.
Finally, going in with this mindset forces you to create a bedrock of workflows that cater to your specific team’s needs. This is something that can easily be taken for granted when everyone is in the same physical location. When you are forced to focus on these areas of your processes, you inevitably create a better place to work and a better space to create — whether that space is physical or not.
Distribution and Monetization Models
Distribution and monetization models are always changing in the age of the internet. However, with all facets of media consumption, we’ve increasingly seen them coalescing on one model in particular: streaming services. The biggest players in movies, television and music are all streaming services. I expect the same story will become true with gaming over the next few years as well.
This doesn’t mean that this is the only way to monetize your content, nor will the current models be the only ones that exist. Flexibility is again the keyword moving forward. No longer can you rely on things staying the same for any period of time. Staying flexible allows you to take advantage of current trends while being nimble and ready to shift when new models come along.
While models may shift, our collective demand for creative expression will never wane. Because of that, our focus as creatives should remain on creating the best media content possible while staying open to the shifting ways in which viewers, listeners and players wish to consume said media. Don’t wait to build this flexibility into your processes — it will be too late once the current shifts complete this current cycle.