In her book Glimpses of Utopia, Sydney Deputy Lord Mayor and author Jess Scully talks about her work helping artists to take control of distribution of their own content. The issue of ownership, distribution and ultimately revenue for content exists for arts organisations also.
A paradox of the Covid-19 pandemic, despite its cataclysmic impact upon the arts section, is that arts organisations have fast-forwarded their capacity to generate digital content. The challenge moving forward is how well they develop the ability to generate revenue from digital content.
It is unlikely the arts sector will ever return to a traditional, place-based, experience for audiences. More likely arts organisations will continue to offer a blended, on-site plus digital, experience.
Where are the revenue streams from digital content? They don’t differ much from traditional live content; pay-to-view, subscription, donation, free (when paid for by other means). Whatever revenue stream is selected, and it may be your organisation utilises more that one, or even all streams, it is critical your viewers believe they are receiving value for money.
A hybrid model add complexity to an art organisations operations. Instead of a box office, you also need an online ticketing provider, an online subscription process with password protected access to content. Your marketing capacity will likely change, with a greater emphasis upon digital marketing. The cost of operating may increase, new people with different, and expensive skills may be needed and the level of risk may increase.
The really bad news is the option of returning to the past may no longer exist. If your organisation cannot meet the emerging needs of audiences, they will simply click to another.
It is possible that through the use of a smart phone, some basic movie tech and a YouTube channel your organisation can create viewable content. Monetising that content may require your website be able to host your own content. This may increase the cost of your digital footprint. It may require you to hire or contract specialised people – those same people are in high demand from every other business in the world.
The key is in baby steps. If you are not already creating digital content, then you should start doing so. Keep it simple, work with your existing assets and capacity. Learn to walk before you run.
If you have yet to foray into creating digital content, then you must have a simultaneous conversation about how you will get people to pay to view. I don’t recommend giving away content, even if you plan to you should have the conversation. Call me to help.
Already producing digital content, but not generating revenue from it? You also must have the conversation. the longer you give away content, the more difficult it may become to shift audience perception that they should pay for it in the future.
Whether new to digital content creation or a pandemic-inspired expert in digital creation you should have a digital strategy. This should be in addition to your normal organisational strategy, but linked to it, while providing direction to your artistic program, marketing and how you go about growing and communicating with your family of supporters. I can help with developing both organisational and digital strategies.
You should seek to address some key questions. For example, what are your assets and resources for producing digital content, how will your content be different to your competitors, do you have access to people with the skills you need, the partners you may need to collaborate with and where will the funding come from?