Entertainment Media and the Internet, or, Why Billy Ocean Never Would Have Succeeded in this Day and Age

peopleG.pngSo last week we had the (extremely early morning) pleasure of attending a “Conversations on the Circle: Entertainment Culture Panel” held all the way up at the Time Warner building. The talk was part of the city wide internet week and featured moderator Scott Donaton (Publisher, Entertainment Weekly), Brett Bouttier (SVP, Digital, Warner Bros. Television Group), Mark Golin (Editor, People.com), Gillian Sheldon (Supervising Producer, TMZ.com), and Charlie Walk (President, Epic Records). The discussion, as most seem to these days, focused on how the transition of content from print to online is affecting the entertainment industry.

On the upside, entertainment magazines seem to be one of the few media outlets benefiting from the online transition. Mark Golin says People.com clocks 830 million page views a month, something that can possibly be attributed to the fact they are a one stop shop, he pointed out that readers will come to People.com for coverage of an event or a star and then click through to look at seven months worth of dresses that particular celebrity has worn. Says Golin:

Technically speaking as a story teller I should be upset by that, but I’m not because I just took thirty minutes of their time

Both Golin and TMZ’s Gillian Sheldon stressed the fact that the internet enabled them an immediacy unavailable in print, which gives editors the ability to respond quickly depending on how much attention a story is or isn’t getting. Says Sheldon,

We can see immediately how the story is written and change accordingly. It’s the best thing about it and the worst but you realize that position on the page matters.
Charlie Walk of Epic Records agrees, though he points out the ramifications of this immediacy on the still struggling music industry are slightly different.
If something doesn’t sound familiar to someone you’re fucked. For example, Billy Ocean’s “Caribbean Queen” — we heard it so much he became a star. Nowadays things maybe get lost if they are a little bit alternative.
Alas! for the Billy Ocean’s of the world. He added: “We may actually be in the worst possible period in the history fo the music business.” Though at this point that can’t really be news to anyone.