Music, newspapers, books… most forms of media were exciting, high-pressure hothouses, environments with hits and winners and action and impact.
Many players in these industries are now trying to figure out where all the zing went. The mattering seems to have left. Where did it go?
It turns out that the air didn't get let out, the balloon disappeared.
Balloons have pressure because there's only one tiny opening. Scarce shelf space. Only room for one newspaper. Only forty titles on the Billboard chart. It's that opening that creates the environment that allows pressure to exist, that pulls the rest of the balloon taut.
But the opening is wide open now. The market has been offered infinity. Instead of a narrow, scarce selection of hits, those that consume media can have all of it, all the time. The long tail plus bite-sized pieces plus constant snacking.
A few generations ago, Gone With The Wind played at the only movie theater in town–every night for a year. Forty years ago, books stayed on the bestseller list for a year or more. Fifteen years ago, the front page ad on Yahoo was sold out for years in advance. Buying the one and only ad on the 'front page of the internet' was a no-brainer, a bargain at any price. Today, of course, there isn't a front page you can buy an ad on. No spot next to the cash register at the biggest chain of bookstores, either.
The abundance of choice feels like a good thing for those that want a choice. But yes, someone got rid of the balloon. All the economics are changing, as are consumption patterns, and they're shifting faster that the mindsets of those that create and publish.
Stop looking for the balloon. It's gone.