There was a time when we had no real choice in what media was produced and how we watched it. For 75 years there was a content and distribution monopoly (in broadcast & cable television) driven by advertising revenue interests. Now with online direct digital distribution open to anyone, why is it even worse? Why is content still filled with advertising and laced with privacy invasion tools? Why are audiences being interrupted, poked, prodded, and drilled into at an ever increasing rate? How come it is near impossible for an independent media producer to make any money let alone re-coup their investment?
The two biggest media companies in the world today are Facebook and Google and they were built on a lie. The lie? That they are free. They are not. You pay for their use with your time, attention, your content contributions and most importantly your information. Basically the price is your entire digital identity which they now own. They in turn take what you offer willingly and sell it to the highest bidder.
Why does this matter? Couldn't you just go somewhere else if you don't like their terms or their business model? There is no where else. Off the backs of their users FB and GGL have co-opted the entire internet and now account for 81% of all the traffic. Which means to reach any kind of audience online you have no choice to but to go through them and they set the rules to the game.
Underlying pretty much everything shitty about the internet is the simple fact that the users (who as audience and creators and the only real drivers of the value) do not own any of it. Not the ISP's that connect to the web, not the platforms that we spend our days on, not the large producers of media. And there in lies the solution. We must own it. At least starting with the most important pieces and that is digital selves and the platforms we need to connect with others on.
Member's Media is part of what is being called the "Platform Cooperative" movement. In fact in 2014 we were the one of the first to develop the legal and organizational structure for large scale cooperative user ownership. The idea that the filmmakers and audiences could and should cut out the middle man and own their own Youtube/Netflix. A solution originally engineered to address the devaluation of independent narrative media but the applicable to many other kinds of platforms.
As with any endeavor to breath life into not just a new company but an entirely new paradigm for how creators and audiences around the world could take part in the economic benefits of their creations and their attention - it has not been easy.
Sometimes you are ready but the world is not. Sometimes it just takes enough people to see the light so we may dig ourselves out of the darkness. We invite any interested in learning more and handy with a shovel to drop us a line.
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