Record company executives.
TV Network producers.
Up until maybe 20 years ago, these were the gatekeepers for the majority of the creative industries.
If you wanted your creative work to be seen, heard or experienced by more than a handful of people, you needed the production and distribution network which these companies provided. They were the ones who controlled access to the audience.
And at the time, there was a good reason for gatekeepers to exist:
- With only a few network TV channels, there were only so many shows which could air every week, so there was a limit to how many actors were required
- With the cost of printing books only making economic sense when thousands of copies would be printed, publishers needed to select authors who they thought would sell in large volumes
- With limited real estate for each art gallery, only a set number of paintings or sculptures could be displayed and attract potential buyers
- The studio-quality equipment and soundproof rooms required to record a “studio-quality” album required huge upfront investment
As a result, with these gatekeeper companies taking on board the upfront investment to set up operations, they were almost always also the party which was paid for the creative output by the end consumer. When someone bought a CD, the money went to the record producer, not directly to the band. If you controlled the access of the media to the audience, you effectively controlled the artist as well.
Even some of the world’s biggest artists don’t actually own their own creations. The gatekeepers do. Just look at what happened to Taylor Swift.
Without the support of these gatekeepers, it was nearly impossible to make a living as an artist. In some industries, it was effectively even impossible to get your foot in the door and have people get to know your face and your work.
But in the past few decades, things have changed radically.
Two major changes have occurred, which mean that today nobody needs permission from a gatekeeper to get started anymore.
- Previously expensive and complicated “professional level” production equipment has been replaced by cheap or even free mass-market alternatives, which can produce at the quality previously only available to professionals. Your smartphone can likely shoot video in 4k. And audio mixing software is now so advanced that you can record and produce a grammy-winning album with only a microphone and laptop in a bedroom, like Billy Eilish did.
- Artists can now directly access their audience, by publishing directly on platforms where their audience is or where they can easily go.
- Many musicians built up a fan base by publishing on Soundcloud. Or even upload their entire albums directly to the biggest sales channels like iTunes and Spotify
- Video and Film creators, actors or events can make money by uploading their videos to Youtube or streaming them on Twitch.
- Authors can self-publish books on the world’s largest bookstore Amazon, and with Print-on-Demand and Kindle eBooks, can make money even if one a single copy of the book is ever sold.
- Writers can publish a blog or newsletter reaching millions of readers.
- Visual artists can sell their artwork as NFTs.
- Entrepreneurs can get funding for their ideas on Kickstarter.
As a result, many more people can now make either a professional living or side income as a creator of art, media and content.
After all, while previously a studio needed to produce several “hits” reaching millions of people to make enough money to be profitable, a single creator only needs about 1,000 True Fans to make a living every year.
So if you have something inside you which you want to share with the world, there is nobody in your way anymore.
You no longer have any gatekeepers stopping you.
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