Why Hollywood Is So Dumb About Piracy (Part 2)

advice, Hollywood

Hollywood © by Cynthia_x

A few people seemed confused by my last post on why Hollywood is wrong about piracy, so I wanted to clarify a bit.

I’m not suggesting anyone get rid of distribution. I am suggesting that piracy is not the threat Hollywood is making it out to be.

It’s best practices in many industries to give away a certain number of copies of your books or songs or images for free – because the more eyeballs that see it (or ears that hear it) – the more money it makes in the long run. This might appear counterintuitive to the kind of corporate executive who manages intellectual properties like commodities – who believes that media should be sold and managed like the goods on the shelves at Walmart. Reduce shrinkage. Prosecute shoplifters. Spend a fortune on traditional advertising, but show no one the actual product til they buy.

However, selling TV and movies is very different from selling a 24-pack of toilet paper. People are going to talk only so much about consumer goods like toilet paper – in person or online – no matter how good your marketing is. But people want to talk about culture. That’s one of the main things we talk about – we identify with what we like, we reference culture to signal we’re part of the gang who likes Bon Iver and Game of Thrones and Annie Hall, we use stories we saw in movies, TV or books to help us make sense of the chaotic mess that surrounds us in our own lives – we enjoy telling each other about what we’ve seen. It’s part of the fun of being human.

And Hollywood wants us talking about their shit. Because out of ten people – if two of them are talking about a movie they saw, the chances are far greater that the other eight may go buy a ticket. Or pay somewhere else down the revenue stream.

But to get more people talking about it, you have to seed the storm cloud a bit. They’re starting to catch on – like when they put Portlandia’s season premiere online before it aired and ratings in key demos jumped 81%. But that kind of thinking needs to extend across the entire industry, not just TV, which is used to giving its shit away for free.

Piracy achieves the same effect, though less formally. If Hollywood were to formalize the practice – legitimize piracy, make downloading titles fast and easy and inexpensive, none of this would be a problem. And yeah, certain distribution arms might have to change to accommodate this, but distribution always has to change to accommodate new technology. Outdated industry models will wither and die in the face of new technology and new consumer preferences. This is what market pricing is all about – letting consumer demand set prices. And if that’s readjusting prices downward, resetting what could be seen as a speculative bubble so that inflated movie budgets have to go away and huge marketing campaigns are replaced by good word-of-mouth buzz, then so be it. The industry will be healthier for it.

59 thoughts on “Why Hollywood Is So Dumb About Piracy (Part 2)

  1. You’re basically advocating a return to emphasis on broad word of mouth which, as a marketing strategy, was rightfully abandoned.  The reason it works (and is a good idea) in the case of screeners is that those industry people have clout with respect to average consumers because they help determine what movies get press.  But broadly applied, it’s an unreliable strategy.  It’s tough to connect these cultural considerations you cite with the bottom line, and I’m not clear how you’re doing that here.  It’s “good” to have average consumers talking about your movie; obviously no one would dispute that.  More people will pay to see it.  But it’s better to take the hit of a decreased audience who pays than an increased one who doesn’t.  (To that extent, I dispute the conclusion you draw from those two scenarios you compared in the previous installment.)

    I’m not saying piracy doesn’t sometimes help sell movies.  Or even that it detracts from ones that do sell (if the numbers about Avatar, etc. are to be trusted).  I might download a blockbuster I saw in theatres, or purchase a DVD after having pirated it and liked it.  But I still don’t see why you think it makes good business sense to pursue consumers who behave in these ways rather than trying to shore up as much of the paying market as you can.

    1. Dear Hector,
      I respect that it sounds like you know what you’re talking about, but like others, I think you’re mistaking what I meant to be a broad point for a prescriptive point.
      I’m not saying that piracy should replace studio marketing. That idea is laughable of course. I’m just saying it’s not the scary evil the studios are making it out to be, and in fact, is probably mostly good, if not great for their bottom line.

      I don’t think the two choices will ever be between “decreased audience who pays” and “increased audience who doesn’t.” I think the differences will happen in degrees, but there will always be a majority of the market who pays. Look at when Radiohead released that album for free online — they still made money off that same album. From people willing to pay for something they knew they could get for free.

      I don’t think “shoring up the market” ever makes sense when you’re talking about ideas, intellectual property, culture. I think if that’s your commodity, you want it to spread as far and wide as possible and the money follows. There are countless bloggers who have provided examples of this in the market which I frankly don’t have time to run down.

      Thanks for stopping by —
      Julie

  2. Hello! Someone in my Facebook group shared
    this website with us so I came to take a
    look. I’m definitely loving the information. I’m book-marking and will be
    tweeting this to my followers! Outstanding blog and wonderful design.

  3. I like the helpful information you provide in your
    articles. I’ll bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently.
    I am quite sure I’ll learn lots of new stuff right here!
    Good luck for the next!

  4. Hello There. I found your blog the usage of msn. This is an extremely
    smartly written article. I will make sure to bookmark
    it and come back to learn extra of your useful information. Thanks for the post.
    I’ll definitely comeback.

  5. Hi! This is kind of off topic but I need some help from an established blog.
    Is it very hard to set up your own blog? I’m
    not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast.

    I’m thinking about setting up my own but I’m not sure where to
    begin. Do you have any points or suggestions? Cheers

  6. hello!,I love your writing very much! percentage we keep in touch
    extra approximately your article on AOL? I need a specialist on this space
    to solve my problem. Maybe that’s you! Taking a
    look ahead to peer you.

  7. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this
    post was great. I don’t know who you are but certainly you
    are going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

  8. naturally like your web site however you have to check the spelling on quite a few of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling issues and I find it very bothersome to inform the reality on the other hand I’ll surely come back again.

  9. Hello there, I discovered your blog by the use of Google whilst searching for a
    comparable subject, your site came up, it appears to be like good.
    I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.
    Hi there, simply turned into alert to your blog via Google, and found that it is really informative.
    I’m going to watch out for brussels. I will be grateful if you happen to proceed
    this in future. Numerous people shall be benefited from your writing.
    Cheers!

  10. The very root of your writing while sounding agreeable at first, did not really sit perfectly with me personally after some time. Somewhere throughout the paragraphs you actually were able to make me a believer but only for a short while. I nevertheless have got a problem with your leaps in logic and you might do nicely to fill in all those gaps. When you can accomplish that, I would definitely be fascinated.

  11. With havin so much content do you ever run into any problems
    of plagorism or copyright violation? My website has a lot of
    exclusive content I’ve either written myself or outsourced but it
    appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my
    permission. Do you know any techniques to help prevent content from being stolen? I’d
    truly appreciate it.

  12. I must thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this
    site. I am hoping to see the same high-grade blog posts from you in the future as well.

    In fact, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my very own website now 😉

  13. I absolutely love your blog and find a lot of your post’s to
    be what precisely I’m looking for. Does one offer guest writers
    to write content in your case? I wouldn’t mind publishing a post or
    elaborating on a number of the subjects you write with regards to here.
    Again, awesome weblog!

  14. I am genuinely happy to glance at this blog posts which includes tons of helpful information, thanks
    for providing such information. plenty of fish natalielise

  15. What i don’t realize is in truth how you are no longer actually
    a lot more smartly-favored than you may be now. You’re very intelligent.

    You know thus considerably on the subject of this matter, produced me personally believe it from so many numerous angles.
    Its like women and men are not involved except it’s one thing to accomplish with Girl gaga!
    Your own stuffs outstanding. At all times deal with it up!

  16. I’m really enjoying the theme/design of your weblog.
    Do you ever run into any web browser compatibility issues?
    A small number of my blog readers have complained about
    my blog not working correctly in Explorer but looks great
    in Chrome. Do you have any tips to help fix this issue?

  17. What’s Happening i’m new to this, I stumbled
    upon this I’ve discovered It positively useful and it has helped me out loads.

    I am hoping to give a contribution & aid different customers like its
    helped me. Good job.

  18. It’s really a great and helpful piece of information. I’m happy that you simply shared
    this helpful info with us. Please stay us up to date like
    this. Thank you for sharing.

  19. Fantastic goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you are just extremely fantastic.

    I actually like what you have acquired here, really like what
    you are saying and the way in which you say it.
    You make it entertaining and you still care for to keep it smart.

    I cant wait to read much more from you. This is really a great site.

  20. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Genuinely rarely should i encounter a weblog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you may have hit the nail about the head. Your idea is outstanding; the problem is an element that insufficient persons are speaking intelligently about. I am delighted we came across this during my look for something with this.

  21. Hey! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to
    give a quick shout out and say I really enjoy reading your blog posts.
    Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same topics?
    Thanks for your time!

  22. Hi there very nice website!! Man .. Excellent .. Wonderful ..
    I will bookmark your website and take the feeds additionally?
    I’m happy to find numerous useful information here within the
    put up, we want work out more strategies on this regard, thank you for sharing.
    . . . . .

  23. I truly love your website.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you make this web site yourself?
    Please reply back as I’m planning to create my very own site and would like to learn where you got this from or exactly
    what the theme is called. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.