Monday July 15th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL
The advent of You Tube is simultaneously the all time greatest and absolute worst thing to ever happen to the entertainment business. I’m torn right down the middle, as on one hand I have used it often to obtain immense pleasure and information but on the other it’s destroying my business.
If someone can sit comfortably in their underwear with a dirt cheap pizza in the privacy of their own trailer, hovel or igloo and watch every standup comic living or dead that has ever stepped on a stage - FOR FREE - how can I expect them to show up at one of my shows and buy a ticket?
It’s pretty much an open and shut case for most people – especially since I’m on You Tube too. If anyone really wants to see me, they can dial me up online and see several of my videos shot in cities around North America. They can see most if not all my national and regional TV spots too.
I know that’s no comparison to seeing a live show of almost any kind, but not everyone agrees. They’re fine with perusing as many acts as they can take in, and not having to leave home or pay out any cover charge or inflated drink and food prices. It’s the best entertainment deal in history.
Personally, I love it and can’t get enough. I’m to the point of zero need for any kind of regular network or cable television whatsoever. I will often wander in from a gig at midnight or close to it, and before I know it the sun is up and I'm nodding out at the keyboard. There's a lot to see. Some of my favorite places to lose myself are vintage Parliament/Funkadelic concerts I haven’t seen, along with old school professional wrestling clips and interviews. I have my favorites of all time like Superstar Billy Graham, Bobby Heenan, Super Destroyer Mark II and many others that I can enjoy for hours at my leisure – and I do. It’s like I’m in charge of a giant electronic toy box.
Depending on what my mood is, I’ll immerse myself in anything and everything from standup comedy clips of anyone from my friends to past masters to people I’ve worked with that are not living anymore. It’s fascinating, educational and never boring because I choose what I’ll watch.
That’s a lot of economic horsepower to put in the hands of the public, and I’m not sure most of them realize it. They vote with their wallets, and if enough opt to stay at home times are going to get much tougher for live entertainers than they already are. We soon won’t be able to compete.
All I can do is what I do, and it’s not going to go away any time soon. There will always be the core of those who enjoy and support live entertainment, but that number is going to take a major hit as time passes – at least in my opinion. Who needs to go out when everything is there online?
I’m sure this same topic has popped up more than once with network TV people, and there are a lot of them justifiably worried about their jobs. Radio is the same. With podcasts diluting their product, they don’t have the customer numbers they once did either. It’s changing for everyone.
I wish I knew what to do to position myself in a good spot to be ahead of the game, but I don’t. I’m more than a little concerned, but I’m not the only one. It’s adapt or die, and it’s happening at lightning speed. There’s no manual to follow as to how to succeed. It’s the Wild West all over.
There needs to be a supply of stages live entertainers can practice the craft they’ve chosen, but if they can’t make a living the craft will eventually die. You Tube is great in many ways, but it’s a monster as far as eating material and nurturing new performers. Like it or not, it’s here to stay.