Every artist or group with certain fame has surely been taught about the usual distribution method, namely through a manager. In this system, there are six or seven parts:
- The author or group.
- The production, which is in charge of creating the work; it can be a recording/movie/animation studio, post-production, etcetera.
- The manager, who nominally is in charge of managing the other parts to have the work reach its destination.
- The distributor, that, as the name implies, distributes the work, whether by recording it in a physical format, or by placing the digital download servers.
- The store, digital or physical.
- The client.
- Depending on the market, the locator, who translates the work and occasionally adapts it for the target market. Curiously, music is seldom translated.
Well then, there’s a little big problem, and it’s that the manager often chops down expenditures to raise the earnings:
- Making the artists to sign contracts where they surrender their rights, often paying them little or nothing, and disrespecting the author’s artistic vision routinely.
- Lowering the production budget, knowing that the bad quality can be compensated with aggressive advertisement.
- Only authorizing distributors that accept their terms, only for a limited time, and sometimes only if they guarantee minimal earnings; if there are no distributors in an unprofitable region, bad for them.
- Demanding drastic measures to stores to prevent “content leaking”.
- Cutting localization budgets for the same reasons that production budgets are cut.
- And, to finish, limiting the client with all sorts of reproduction, redistribution and derivation restrictions.
In the end, the manager is over-controlling, and has only been tolerated because, historically, it has been the only road to fame. But it happens that new independent distribution methods have appeared, such that the artist can manage several of the steps on its own, and so the historical manager’s now superfluous.
- The artists can become their own producers and assure that their artistic vision will be kept.
- They can use free distribution and advertisement services, that don’t restrict the work geographically.
- They can make their own digital stores, or managing their sales in others stores, digital or physical, that are not under the exclusive control of managers.
- They can commission their fans to translate their works, as they do today in a para-legal form.
- And, most importantly, they can have a deep relationship, not with clients, but with fans.
Managers promise fame and fortune, and rarely do they accomplish their promises. Now that it’s finally viable, it’s time for art to start self-managing.