I read a rather well written, in depth article today about the origins of the Harlem Shake craze which happened a few years ago.
Essentially people would video themselves at first standing still, except one person who would, in the background, dance, and then at the proper time in the song, the scene would shift and everyone who were now in bizarre costumes also danced.
Sounds like harmless fun right? Well it was, initially. What happened was a marketing firm saw the original video and did a better, more polished version. Other corporate interests got involved, helped to spread the word, and very quickly people were doing their own version of the Harlem Shuffle and uploading it online, as well as watching the initial versions for inspiration.
The marketing firm made money, the record company made money, the song’s author made money, and of course every site that featured Harlem Shake videos made money, through ad revenue. However, the initial creators, and many of the later imitators did not. They were just having fun. The companies were trying to make a buck.
The article ends poorly, I think, with, “The technology may have changed, but the money still flows the same way: to creators of contracts not creators of content.”
That last line is a bunch of sour grapes bullshit.
If you make something, if you entertain people, you have the option of trying to monetize your creation. If you choose not to, say you give away your book, or spend your time to fix a Wikipedia article on the Oxford comma, grumbling about lost money is just hindsight whining.
Example - let’s say I write a book and Acme Publishers offers to buy it and help me sell it. The usual industry standard is 40% net sales minus expenses IIRC. Acme will, as a company, make 60% of profits and I make 40%, but here’s the kicker. No one person will make more on my book than I will. That 60% is split multiple ways; it goes to the editors, and the cover illustrator, and the marketing team, the printers, and all the other expenses to include the CEO of the company, all working for me, to get people to buy my book. I have hired them, to do things that I either do not have the expertise to do or am unwilling to do, because I have more important things to occupy my time, like write another book.
The big take away is that I, as the content creator, as the entertainer, am in charge. Acme works for me, if they do a crappy job I do not have to offer them my next book. I can create as much or as little as I wish, and Acme will not make a dime off of my efforts unless I allow them to do so. Unless I hire them to assist me.
So I’m the boss, and what is the first rule of being a boss? Get paid. However, it is up to me to make sure this happens. If I fail to get paid, it is my fault. I’m the boss, not an employee.
If I give away my content, if I entertain for free, that is my decision, but it’s not really reasonable to complain if others take what is given to them and find a way to make a buck off of it.