I’ve repeatedly stated in this economic climate and with distribution methods continuing to evolve, it is imperative for visual artists to take control of their own distribution as much as possible.
The blog syndication network known as Blog Rush abruptly shut down a couple of days ago. There were as many as 50 readers who signed on to use them after reading about it here, or seeing the widget for it in the sidebar of this blog. If you are a Blog Rush publisher, you are advised to remove it as it is no longer serving the widget.
I liked the idea of Blog Rush because it was novel and appeared to be something that would be beneficial. Also, I liked it because it was the brain child of John Reese. who is a pretty savvy Internet marketer. He has made a fortune for himself and others, including enough to invest $400k of his own money in Blog Rush.
What has happened to Blog Rush, despite being a unique approach personally backed by a successful and experienced Internet marketer, is indicative of what can happen with nearly any Web 2.0 venture. Seeing Blog Rush collapse is a foretelling sign for some other Web 2.0 darlings. To wit, Rafe Needleman, editor of the Webware: Cool Web Apps for Everyone column for CNET News, ran a piece on October 10 titled, 11 troubled Web companies: The next Kozmos? Here is part of it:
"We are going to lose some good companies." That's the warning cry from investors in tech these days.
Some we won't miss, of course: the lame, me-too, or single-featured "products" masquerading as businesses. But be prepared. Some Web 2.0 start-ups that are well-loved by many are in serious danger of falling off the cliff.
The problem is that being loved is no guarantee for success. Even being used isn't enough. Remember Kozmo, the munchie messenger service from the last bubble? Not a person who used it didn't love it. In the interest of building a user base, the company was OK with losing money on every transaction in its early days. But when the time came for it to become a real business, it was too late. It couldn't transition to a viable company, and it folded. It was a tragedy.
Needleman's list includes companies that will be shocking to some, especially devoted users. It includes: Twitter, Skype, Pandora, Meebo, TripIt, Second Life, Zillow, Ask, Daily Motion, MySpace and NetVibes.Wow! Several of those are companies whose services I really like. I can't imagine losing MySpace, Zillow, Pandora or Skype. I'm sure many regular users of other names on the list will be just as chagrined and disbelieving as I am about my faves on it.
Why does this matter and how does it affect visual artists?
I often cover items of interest regarding Internet marketing here for a reason. I've repeatedly stated in this economic climate and with distribution methods continuing to evolve, it is imperative for visual artists to take control of their own distribution as much as possible. While I'm not advocating revolting from the gallery or publisher systems, I am saying success for visual artists today requires they take more responsibility for getting their work to market than any previous time. Not that it is hasn't always been crucial, just more so now.
Get the real moral of this story here
Obviously, the Internet and other technological advances are the main causes of disruption in changing and altering distribution channels. At the same time, these same forces also offer artists more choices and opportunities to be in charge of building their reputation and making direct sales. It is important to have an awareness that some services or companies you might use and take for granted or not as rock solid as you might think. As such, I will continue to report on progress surrounding Internet marketing and Web 2.0 and apropos Web 3.0 developments.
The real lesson is your business model has to be predicated upon being profitable. If you are sheepish about your pricing and not taking a fair markup on your work, it will come back to haunt you. Better to lose sales than to give it away. The well worn adage, "You can't lose money on every sale and make it up on volume", is as true for artists as it is for Blog Rush, MySpace orTwitter.