Disruption and creators

Digital and social content creators have expanded beyond the ‘influencer’. Entertainers, artists and brands alike are collaborating to cross-pollinate and create new audiences for all content irrespective of form.

In this episode, Dr. James Piecowye and Paul Kelly talk about the role of the Creator, not so much as a disruptive force, but as an audience enabler.



Dr. James Piecowye:  Welcome to know your audience, a marketing mini cast that explores how knowing an audience can unlock greater insight. In this episode, we talk about the role of the Creator, not so much as a disruptive force, but as an audience enabler. 

Paul, I want you to jump back just a little bit and talk to us about this disruptive role of the Creator in our marketing environment today.

Paul Kelly:  Where the disruption probably is looked at, from a traditional word sense of the word, you know, or whether it’s just something that had to happen is another way of looking at this, I think. And what the creators are doing is owning an audience. That’s it, they own an audience, and they’re not necessarily beholden to one platform. That audience is multichannel. They understand how they behave, and they’re able to better than controlling the outcomes, you know, so whether those outcomes are views, whether it’s commercial.  A few episodes back, we talked about Mr. Beast, for instance. Diversifying and owning that audience and bringing it to other platforms, we talked about McDonald’s and the way that they’ve done it, with creators really, really interesting. And there’s a lot of other things happening in the world where content creators as businesses are starting to dictate, I guess, a lot more of the commercial side of things and how things work. And I think it’s really interesting.

James:  So this, this requires a real mental shift for us. Because this is new. And this is adding another category to how we go about organizing what we’re going to do with our products and one that we may not have been thinking about five years ago. 

Paul: Yeah, completely. And it’s not people on Instagram making content that’s just driving this revolution like it’s changing around how to build an audience and brands are joining this shift and big brands that we interact with every day. And, and basically, we’re seeing this and it’s a tectonic shift, I don’t like to use hyperbole, I don’t like that. 

James: It’s that big. 

Paul: It is. And there’s many, many small deals where people are driving extraordinary profit from audience understanding. And some really recent examples, I think that a really probably encapsulate this movement, probably on a more realistic basis for a lot of people is away from the creators and just looking at more traditional, more traditional, I guess what we would determine as creatives you know, musicians, particularly so one that stands out to me to sell to really drive home, this concept is someone like Bob Dylan, when I say Bob Dylan, what do you think?

James:  I think about vocals. {laughing} But I think of somebody who is still making music. And when you say the word Bob, say the name Bob Dylan, or put on a Dylan tune, people, it’s recognizable. And dumb, it cuts across age groups.

Paul:   It does too. But and I think if you think about these lyrical content, it was anti-establishment at a certain period of time, probably encapsulated a mood at the time, you know, you think of songs like a hurricane or your civil rights, civil rights, or even you know, from his bigger hits as well. That feeling of sort of people first profit last all that sort of thing? Well, he’s just sold his entire back catalog to Universal Music for $300 million, right, everything is gone. And he’s not the only person doing this lately. 

James: Which is opposite to what he was singing about. 

Paul: Yes. And then this is a really different way of artists who are timeless thinking about their back catalog, and the rights to that back catalog. So there’s a fund I think, scattered Japan, that’s been literally snapping up entire back catalogs of artists, who perhaps in the twilight of their career, they can still make music and everything, but the hits are now owned by these funds, and the funds get money in from the royalties, obviously, but then also, it creates new licensing opportunities that their existing management structures wouldn’t know, you know, maybe not allow for but just aren’t able to do. So, you know, making you know, this is again, perhaps, you know, the juxtaposition of someone like Bob Dylan selling back catalog, but that would give the power of that owner now to license the music for, you know, a KFC commercial in Japan or something, you know, but there are real revenue streams being driven by bringing the power of that audience he’s he hasn’t immediately recognizable. Now, many, many other artists are doing it, I think is a great example of it. And what it gives us is a really unique insight into how big conglomerates now are understanding, okay, we can actually make a lot of money from this as a secure revenue source for the next 10-15 years. 

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James: Which is totally disrupting the way in the case of the music industry. It’s been done In the past, 

Paul: Yes, yeah. And you really, you know, you step back and go, Okay, there was a massive disruption when the iPod came out and iTunes and music went from physical to digital and less tangible for a lot of people, but suddenly much greater access so discovery becomes a lot better. 

And then you start to look at audience first platforms like Spotify and things like that, that really try and tailor your experience to the music and everything. And then the actual creators were left behind, to a certain extent, you know, with how they were, {recompense} or get the compensation. The compensation that they were getting was driven, largely, you know, physical touring, and then just became touring. And that’s why you had these giant tours going around that were really spectacle-based for big artists. And now it’s like, well, hang on, there’s this huge revenue stream that can be can be tapped into. And if I’m making hits, I want to make sure I say the upside of those hits. And this is what’s become really smart. And I think there are other ways of doing it. So what’s become, I think, an app that has become extraordinarily popular. And a conversation that a lot of people have started to have is mental health, particularly during the pandemic. And headspace is probably the most famous app that has come from not necessarily that it was around for a long time before that, but I think gained a lot of popularity as people were more aware of the need for managing their own mental health, as well as physical and meditation and all those sorts of things. And Netflix is basically doing co-created content with headspace now, so you have this cross-fertilization. Where this audience that’s very familiar with, particularly the founder of Andy, he’s the voice of headspace, is now voicing content on Netflix that’s being created for their audience. And he started to get this cross-pollination of different platforms coming together that have a unique sort of element where I can deliver people, you deliver your brand, and the two will meet in the middle. And I just think, you know, this is a great example of how to influence the creation and everything like that is turning big business, or be I guess, new business when we’re talking about music. Right, purchasing and video streaming…

James:  Definitely a new way of looking at old forms of content, that’s for sure.

Paul: Yeah, yeah. And I think you know, even look at the streaming platforms away from the Netflix and Spotify, as you’ve got Warner Brothers, you know, bringing everything on to like their HBO Max, and all that sort of stuff that the cinema releases are going to be released at the same time on streaming, as in the cinema. 

James: Who would have thought they would have ever thought we’d see that day. 

Paul: Exactly. And then Disney, for instance, with Disney Plus, exceeding all of their revenue projections because of the content, because there’s an audience for that content. And so it comes with that, and this is, there are just so many examples of these. And that’s just a couple of examples where creators are disrupting this long-standing industry norm. And it’s because they understand the audience. And so this brings a new dimension of the value proposition to a brand, you know, like, you start people start to value things differently. So, you know, the Bob Dylan example, again, going back and probably you know, it’s a, it’s not the world’s best example of this, but if you think about it gives a different dimension to the value of his music. So he walks away with his pot of money, Twilight of the career, probably a great move, you know, for his benefactors, and things like that over time. What it gives is a new way of approaching his music, it gives a new way of a new audience being reached that he’d never be able to reach. And, you know, when you really understand an audience, you begin to unlock all these things, that becomes a domino, you know, profit becomes easier to come by, because you’re spending less to reach that audience as a brand. And what’s driving literally all these deals is the audience. So the McDonald’s examples, we talked about a few episodes back, there’s, there are lots of other collaborations that happen on a daily basis, you know, that happened for a long time in, in clothing, and footwear. But it’s happening in a lot of different sectors in really unique ways. And what it is, is that audience drives the deal, as well. So and you’re starting to see this on a much, much bigger scale than ever before.

James: The takeaway from this episode is;  we need to really start thinking about the power of the audience. And the simple fact that the better we understand the audience, the easier it is for us to unlock its potential.

You can get in touch with me across the socials; @thejamescast or [email protected]

Paul: And get in touch with me, Paul,  through d -a.co or otherwise, email me at [email protected] a.co 

Thanks for listening