Rico Cruz's Blog
Rico Cruz male Staff Writer
Rico is the newest member of the HardwareZone team, having joined in June 2011, lured by his love of all things technology. He has been an avid follower of technology news since his high school days and is therefore no stranger to technology trends, past and present.
Running up to today, I hadn't really given much thought on what I was going to blog about. CES had already ended a while back, and nothing particularly interesting has come up in the technology news recently. So, as any good writer would do, I trawled the Internet for something; anything. Luckily, I came across a post on the photography blog PetaPixel about a documentary called PressPausePlay, which was first released in the South by Southwest (SXSW) music and film festival in Austin, Texas in March last year. The one and a half hour film focuses on the effect that the digital revolution has made on creative industries, particularly the movie and music industries.
The availability of increasingly powerful creative tools and software, along with greater access to high speed broadband Internet connections, have made the creation, and most especially the distribution, of creative works like movies and music infinitely easier than it was less than a decade ago. "Anybody with US$ 1,500 can buy a camera and make a movie, and there are so many ways to distribute it online," says American film maker Lena Dunham. The same goes for music, as the documentary zooms in on Ólafur Arnalds, a musician from Reykjavik, Iceland, who rose to worldwide fame in a matter of months for the music he composed using the computer in his house. Ólafur goes on to talk about the myriad of responses he has received for his work, ranging from simple fan letters, to poems, and videos that were inspired by his music. One response in particular, a video made by one of Ólafur's fans all the way in South America, moved him so much that it became the official video of one of his tracks, which Ólafur believes made the song more popular than it would have been otherwise.
To creative people searching for some kind of outlet for expression, as well as observers and experts in the field, this is all very exciting stuff. American author and online entrepreneur Seth Godin says that "there has never been a better time to be an artist." He believes that technology will enable artists to create more art in more ways than ever before. Music journalist Brenda Walker says that "the technological advances have given artists an open door to creating as much as their capacity will allow." However, not everyone shares the positive sentiment. British-American writer Andrew Keen believes that making it easy to create movies and music doesn't necessarily mean that there will be a sudden explosion of great works of art. Rather, he thinks that the digital revolution will bring about a new age of cultural mediocrity, where everyone is a creator and a critic at the same time, and real talent will be drowned out by garbage. While I don't agree that a cultural dark age like Mr. Keen describes is coming, we have to admit that we have already seen some forms of it; the explosive popularity of Rebecca Black's "Friday" music video on YouTube comes to mind.
Cultural degradation aside, the documentary also raises a concern for the economic cost of the digital revolution. Thanks to (mostly illegal) digital distribution, movie studios, and record companies have been bleeding cash, hence, their desperate attempts at regulating the Internet, as with the recent SOPA issue. However, independent musicians and filmmakers also face similar challenges when it comes to compensation for their work, as they have to deal with competition from their peers along with an audience that is so used to downloading content for free. What will become of an industry that no longer has a business model that can realistically support it? Artists can't go on creating without getting paid, right? In the end, PressPausePlay unfortunately doesn't have any hard answers to the questions it raises. In fact, nobody really does. The important thing is that people become aware and talk about it, and hopefully out of the discussion we can come to some kind of solution. To make their point even clearer, the directors of the film decided to release it as both a paid download on iTunes and Amazon, and as a free download on their website, leaving it up to you to decide if you're willing to pay for a creative work or not.