What the Streamys Can Tell Us About Publishing Today (Hint: It's Not All Bad)
Joss Whedon fans may revere as literature his 2008 classic, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog; but most of us in publishing don't seem to take the literature found on YouTube very seriously. And compared to the Oscars, the Emmys, the Grammys, and the Golden Gloves, how can Streamys compete?
I haven't seen a lot of industry analysis of these awards, which are presented by Dick Clark Productions and Tubefilter and recognize the best in online video. The comments I have heard ranged from "It's just embarrassing" to "It's a fiasco." Really? While the Streamys, now in its fourth year, are not aired on TV, and are somewhat down-market by comparison with their more well-established cousins, watching the stars prep for the most recent awards on September 7th on my Facebook newsfeed, seeing them meet their fellow YouTube stars, had its own bit of buzzy excitement -- for me, at least.
This year's Streamys recognized The Lizzie Bennet Diaries for best drama and Philip DeFranco's news site SourceFed for best news. Not all my favorites showed up -- I like the two winners I mentioned, but I also love Extra Credits for its in depth take on gaming and Kids Snippets for laughs -- but hey, you can't have everything. What is it about these shows that make them less compelling than other forms of media?
For me, the conventions of online video are already getting a bit old. You know what I mean: the rapidspeak, the quick cuts, all those acknowledgements that we're dipping in for a few minutes, don't have much time to devote; they can get jarring. And while you find an increasing amount of high-quality professional content online, there is just so darned much self-publishing. Viewer-submitted content. Junk.
But -- not. Just because content is crowd-sourced, advertiser-sourced, or self-published doesn't make it junk. The lack of curation and editing can result in some wonderful surprises, some moments of stunning originality. There's a lot to sift through, a lot to discard; but you also have artists who know they can't rely on the studio to edit and curate and weigh and judge and promote and market. They are going direct to the people, who will accept or reject. They had better be sure to produce their best work.
And something about a newer medium encourages new ideas, new approaches, new ways of expression. I love the way the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, for example, combines the conventions of online content with a favorite story to create a fresh, immersive, and compelling piece of art.
So don't dis the Streamys. They provide what we're all looking for in the publishing industry: originality, creativity, and disruption. For the moment at least, they are outside the box.
Linda Ruth, as president of PSCS Consulting (www.PSCSConsulting.com), offers communication companies worldwide the keys to magazine launches, search engine optimization and audience development online and at retail. She is a pioneer in the fields of Online Audience Optimization (OAO) and gamification for content publishers. Her books, "Internet Marketing for Magazine Publishers" ; "How to Market your Newsstand Magazine"; and "Secrets of SEO for Publishers" can be found on Amazon. Find her online at Google Plus, Magazine Dojo, LinkedIn, and Twitter @Linda_Ruth.