The pitched war between content owners and technology companies doesn’t have to persist if media companies would acknowledge and adapt to the new realities of digital distribution, said Fred Wilson, managing partner at Union Square Ventures. Speaking at the paidContent 2012 conference in New York, Wilson said the content companies that learn to adjust and embrace new distribution channels can keep the revenue flowing.
“I think those (traditional media) industries will survive and thrive, they just need to move from a fairly monopolistic distribution system to a wide open distribution system,” Wilson said.
He said while there are some examples of good collaboration between technology companies and progressive content owners, in most cases media companies fear the unfamiliar. But he said history continues to show that new technology — whether it’s radio, the VCR or iTunes — brings in new revenue. He predicts music subscription services will have the same effect.
In a perfect world, Wilson said he’d like to see a system similar to a DNS registry in which content owners would register their content and make it available with rules in exchange for copyright enforcement. That’s the fair compensation for society already enforcing the rights of copyright holders, he said.
“If we have rules for TV, films, music, books, games we’d see an explosion of innovation. All sorts of services and business models could get created,” he said.
If the media companies don’t adapt, tech companies and entrepreneurs are showing an increasingly willingness to create their own content. Wilson pointed to the original programing YouTube is commissioning. He said that could be where the next big media hit is.
“Some of those entrepreneurs will create fantastic content that will be very popular and we will see that become very profitable businesses. Maybe the next big media companies will be built that way,” Wilson said.