Good For David And Goliath

by Chris Bodenner

Jeff Jarvis looks at speculation over Howard Stern starting his own broadcasting company online:

Technology makes it possible: We could listen to him – and watch him – on the internet, on our iPods, and even now on our web-enabled phones. There’s no longer a need for a distribution network. [...] Marketing? Stern doesn’t need it because his audience is his agency. And Stern doesn’t need to share any of that with Sirius XM. His only cost is his staff and bandwidth. Ah, but you say, he made a reported $500 million for his five-year Sirius contract. But I believe some of that came in equity and as a shareholder, I can tell you that isn’t doing so well. The point is, who’s going to sniff at tens of millions of dollars a year? If it doesn’t work, the risk is minimal. So why not? [...T]he internet enables Stern to have complete freedom, control, and ownership, which is ideal for a control freak like Stern.

The web is not only ideal for enabling unknown amateurs to burst on the scene without money or industry backing. At the other end of the spectrum, for household brands like Stern, the internet can render all those industry middlemen obsolete. The industry only seems useful for the large swath of middling talents clamoring to out-position one another with artificial marketing and politics. Also, on the web, big-name talents have means to get back to their edgy, innovative roots.