A couple weeks ago, Jeff Jarvis picked up on a bit of the Howard Stern show where Stern mused about what could come next for him:
Tomorrow I could go on the internet and start my own channel with my own subscribers. Youâ€™d be able to click and watch us on TV, watch us in the studio live, streaming. Youâ€™d be able to listen to us streaming. Youâ€™d be able to get us on your iPhone. Youâ€™d be able to do everything right at the click of the internet. I wouldnâ€™t even need to work for a company. Iâ€™d be my own companyâ€¦ So true itâ€™s ridiculous
Jarvis then went on to say:
Entertainers (radio, music, comedy, books, columnists, even filmmakers) will have direct relationships with their audiences. Like Stern, they wonâ€™t have to work for companies or go through them for distribution. Thatâ€™s already happening, of course, on the web for creation, distribution, and monetization…It returns to the age of patronage, only now the kings donâ€™t fund the artists, the public does and less money is wasted on middlemen.
I think he’s exactly right about this and I think I’ve talked about this before. Another entertainer I figured might be heading towards this model is Bill Simmons, and 10 minutes after I read the Jarvis piece on Stern, I read this Huffington Post interview of the Sports Guy. Simmons and ESPN had a dust up a couple years ago when he had the opportunity to interview Obama during the primaries, only to have it nixed by ESPN. This lead to less frequent posting and a general ‘work to rule’ feel to his columns for a bit. Just last week, Simmons was told to stay off Twitter for two weeks after an impolitic comment about one of ESPN’s partners. These wrist slaps, combined with his enthusiasm for and embrace of new media in the form of podcasts and (after some initial derision) Twitter, combined with the release and success of his new book combined with the below quotation lead me to think Bill Simmons is done with ESPN.
Part of me can’t shake the temptation of being the underdog again — like, launching my own sports site, hiring some talented writers and designers and trying to compete with the big guns. Like what Frank Deford did with the National. All right, the National lost $100 million. Bad example.
But I could see doing something crazy like that. I like taking chances, I am not afraid to fail, and beyond that, I am not afraid to fail violently and miserably. So anything is possible. A really good prediction would be, “Simmons is going to fail violently and miserably with a super-ambitious idea within the next five years.” Lock it down.
He’s either going to walk or make ESPN bend pretty hard to keep him. With the podcasts he’s created another platform for himself, and Twitter allows a channel of communication to his fans independent of ESPN. He’ll continue to grow his brand with or without ESPN.
Earlier this year, Adam Carolla’s insanely popular morning show ended when the station he was changed formats. He decided to start a daily podcast, and because his contract ran until the end of this year, there were no ads or sponsors. It quickly became one of the top podcasts on iTunes, and he continued to attract guests that had appeared on his radio program.
Aside from Bill Simmons and Adam Carolla bringing podcasts mainstream, which is another post, they’ve also presented a pretty clear model for their future. Couldn’t Stern, Simmons, and Carolla start an entertainment website next year with streaming shows, podcasts, sports columns, etc and charge users $2 a month for access? They couldn’t get 500K – 1 million subscribers? New media, baby!