Amazon’s Audible Brings Playwrights to Industry 4.0

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Audible | Amazon.com

With the advent of YouTube Red, Netflix, and podcasting the entertainment industry has shifted drastically within the past 5 years. Edgy Labs covers how corporate giants are responding to the changing climate.

What if you could become a playwright without taking the chance of packing up everything you own and moving to New York?

Well, that might be a serious possibility in the year to come.

On Tuesday, Audible (the digital audiobook giant) announced the creation of an unprecedented  $5 million USD fund to commission work from emerging playwrights.

“They’re actually getting paid to write a play,” said Sarah Silverman of the Audible grant recipients. “That’s a rare thing, and it’s an important thing.”

This is the first time online content creators are being actively sought out by such a large company that (for all intents and purposes) seems so far removed from Hollywood.

However, Audible’s move is highly reflective of a much larger media trend: digitization.

Audible Captures Historic Rise in Independent Creative Media

After the 2008 writers’ strike in Hollywood, Apple validated their own audiovisual platform by hosting content by performers like Neil Harris and Felicia Day–see Dr. Horrible’s Sing – Along Blog-by making it available for purchase through iTunes.

In fact, Netflix and now YouTube Red are famously notorious for taking on content designed exclusively for internet distribution – see Video Game High School (hosted by both platforms since its advent in 2012).

Recently, even Disney contracted a former Vine star (Jake Paul) to appear in their new content–including a rap song debut and a blogging-themed comedy.

Moreover, smaller companies, like Hooked and Crave (apps designed for short horror and romance stories respectively), have profited off presenting unique storylines in a play-like structure.

Crave’s platform supports a new storytelling medium centered around texts, notifications, GIFs, and other everyday methods of mobile communication. Developers at Crave believe that their efforts might just save the novel format.

Not surprisingly, the WWDC conference showed that big corporations like Apple also support the rise in creative content contributors and entrepreneurs–their devices now support VR and 3D building technologies for games and apps.

So what does all of this mean for the market at large?

New Platforms Create ‘Perfect Storm’ for Emerging Talent

An average of  57 million Americans listen to podcasts monthly–that’s about 23% of the overall population.

This may be one reason why advertising industry experts report, “content, discovery, monetization and technology” are all on the side of podcasters and creative entrepreneurs.

There is also something to be said about the YouTube model: how many stars that have risen to global popularity got their start on YouTube?

In 2009, Justin Beiber was well on his way to fame because of the online giant.

In an interview with ABC, he described how his first independent project led to a whirlwind of opportunities:

“It had a hundred views, then a thousand views, then ten thousand views, so I just kept posting more videos and more videos,” Justin said.

Justin Bieber’s rise to fame is probably the most obvious example–but shows like “Little Big Shots” shed light on how the Internet (via YouTube or podcasts) gives talent the perfect platform to be discovered and helps streamline scouting for agents.

Currently,  “personalities” like Rhett & Link, Game Grumps, and PewdiePie (to name a few) have captured a large audience (rivaling TV viewership numbers) and engage in a multiplicity of digital platforms (podcasts, sketch writing, let’s plays, music creation, live streaming, etc).

In fact, the top12 most paid Youtube stars “earned a combined $70.5 million in the 12 months ending in June–a 23% increase from last year’s total,” says Forbes.

Impact on Industry 4.0 & Beyond

Audible’s move is much more than “Big Business” doing their part to support the arts;

It’s a genius way to ensure unique, highly-relevant content while still offering consumers an on-demand and personalized experience.

It would appear that those same companies (Apple, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft) that offer head-start initiatives for workers to hone creative skills are already one step ahead when it comes to preparing for the future of jobs during the fourth industrial revolution.

Are you a creative contributor? How so? What improvements should these companies, like Audible, make to capture new performers in the entertainment industry?

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