Thursday, 15 February 2018

A New Hope

It is a fact none can dispute that the technological advancement of the past decades has changed many elements of society. As with all other things, however, it is a matter of degrees and natural forces of self-correction are beginning to be brought to bear. Digital distribution has, doubtlessly, made an alteration to traditional industries, as supported by statistical changes, there are however other factors which go into deciding whether a given format is to thrive or perish.  

The primary area in which the impact of digital distribution has been felt is that of ‘video games’. Since the launch of digital distribution, such as Steam, in 2009, the overall market-share has increased from 20% of the overall market to a discombobulating 74%, nigh on constituting a monopoly. In addition to the much lower price point digital distribution affords, it it also somewhat a matter of public spirit. Eve since the turn of the second millennium, a general spirit of independence began to permeate much of Western culture. It is telling then, that the vast majority of games distributed via the ‘internet’ are produced by independent and even boutique enterprises with absolutely no corporate or industrial support whatever. Quite similar, in fact, to the very beginnings of the computerized industry in general, the majority of the enterprises that have remained active to this day being of the ‘start-up’ variety. At times commingled from very humble beginnings, on occasion with little more than three chaps stationed with in an automobile storage port. 

Despite the rather rapid spread of musical recordings over the ‘internet’, available at least inexpensive price points, if not entirely free of charge, and near constant proclamations of the traditional recording industry be rather quite deceased, the rumours of its death have been greatly exaggerated. While it is fair to say that the traditional reactor ding industry is something of a down-turn as of late, it is hardly in the queue for the Endangered Species List. Overall sales, including that of proper vinyl records, in 2016 was a respectable 205.5 million units, the renewed interest in vinyl accounting for a full 10% of overall sales. A phenomenon leading to the production and promotion of plethora new turn-tables.

A traditional form which has not only survived by thrived in the new century is traditional live theatre. Counted among the oldest forms of human artistic endeavour, the theatre dates back to Classical Greece and is as well regarded in the contemporary epoch as it has been since the beginning, the impositions of television and the ‘web’ having no real impact on it, the experience of live theatre simply being too unique and specific to be replicated, let alone surpassed, in any other form. Indeed, far from being subsumed by the Internet, dramatists and thespians have begun to harness and utilize the massive reach of the digital realm for their own ends. In addition to the posting of live recordings of both professional and amateur theatre productions on ‘streaming sites’ as a means to get wider attention, theatre groups have exploited the 
popularity of ‘flash-mobs’ as to promote their upcoming productions. More than this, other intrepid entrepreneurs have utilized digital distribution as the primary vehicle for their theatrical productions. A case-in-point being Paul Sharpea, the genius dramatist behind the incomparable ‘web musical’, The Dolls of New Albion. Despite being released in an ‘audio-only’ format, it is nigh on impossible to distinguish between New Albion and a recording of a traditional stage musical. To the point that it has since been stage adaptations produced, which have been, in their turn, recorded and poster on streaming sites. Thereby bringing everything full circle. 

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