entertainment designer

Fans, Social Media, and Creators

Nancy Baym shared a really good presentation she delivered at by:Larm on Online Fandom (download it here).  While her talk was directed at musicians, I think any kind of Entertainment Designer can benefit from it.  This PDF went right into my EverNote.

She made a couple points I would like to expand on:

Fan Culture is Gift Culture

The most important thing to understand about fan culture is that it is

based on gifts, not money.


That doesn’t mean there’s no money involved, but it does mean that

even when there is money involved, money tends to function as a gift

rather than a payment. This is in dirapproach to audiences as a market.

I have hammered away on this topic for quite some time.  I love how simply she puts it. 

Too many entertainment designers think of their audience as customers who are chomping at the bit to hand them fist full of cash...  and they wonder why we are loosing interest in them.

Fandom is a two way street.  Content Creators need to ask themselves, "Am I giving my audience enough?"

Now that is not enough product, although that is important, it is also about giving your fans gifts.  One of my favorite bands, Queensryche, often writes new music while touring, and will post live tracks to their site to gage fan reaction.  That is a good example of a gift.

Fans like stuff

Fans like stuff. They collect, they give each other things, they show

their things off to one another. In the digital realm, goods include

sound files, images, videos and so on.

How true is that?  My house is a veritable shrine to the franchises and bands I love.  I have a 3 foot Millennium Falcon in my office.  But there is a difference between merchandise and collectables.

The compact that exists between fans and entertainment designers is that the stuff they have for sale will be the best quality they can afford to produce, and that they are not just trying to fleece money from their fans.

Whenever I think of merchandise gone wrong, I think of the Kiss Potato Heads.  What the hell is that all about?  When I think about Kiss, potatoes don't really come into the picture.  Most cringe worthy merch ever.

Fans value creativity

Artists tend to focus on their own creativity, and that is the locus

around which fans organize, but they also use others’ art as an

opportunity to flex their own creative muscles and they enjoy seeing

and hearing one another’s creative works.


Some of the things fans make are art, remixes, cover versions, fiction.

I have talked about this topic a lot.  I just wanted to bring attention to it again.

Entertainment Designers and Fans

We need to spread the word, and I hope the folk Nancy spoke to were actually listening.  The creative world has changed, and if we don't change with it, none of us are going to make it.

Do you think she missed something in her presentation?  What do you think Entertainment Designers should do to make fandom and interaction easier?

The Most Important Thing

Narrow streets of cobblestone
Image by janusz l via Flickr

The tension between fame and a meaningful life is strong.  It is easy to confuse one for the other.  This struggle is more acute for an Entertainment designer since we are a nation (and culture) built on the idea the winner takes all.

Anytime a show is not number one, it is deemed a failure by the tabloid press.  Think about some common statements of defeat:

  • I wasn’t picked to lead the team.
  • They didn’t like my idea.
  • Only a few people showed up for my party.
  • Only one person wished me happy birthday.
  • I didn’t show up, and nobody even noticed.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:

Quality is more important than Quantity.

I know, that is such a cliche, but it is true!

If you weren’t picked to lead the team, be grateful you are free from the stress of leadership and participate to the best of your ability.

If they don’t like your ideas, ask yourself if you pitched them to the right people, or if they need some tweaking and improvement. Who cares if only a few people show up for the party, did you all have a good time?

I am not saying that we have to always look for a bright side in every situation.  Sometimes their just isn’t one.  What we need to do is:

1. Identify our Real Obstacles

It is easy to feel sorry for ourselves and have the ‘Poor me’s, but that doesn’t help anyone but the people and things between us and our goals.  If we don’t know what we are really up against, we cannot make a plan to overcome the obstacle and move ahead. Just don’t forget, sometimes we have to make a turn and go off in a new direction.  That’s what innovation is.

2. Find the Path

Once you see the obstacle, next you need to figure our the way around, through, or over it.

I have a superstition about the path I follow.  When I am on the right track, I have the motivation to carry my through.  When I am not, I don’t.

The real objective is to have a life that makes a feel alive, not merely one we survive as long as we can.

My dad is most alive when he is fixing things.  It would be ludicrous for him to have worked his way into management.  It would have sapped the zeal of life from him.  He followed his bliss, and still does in retirement.

The easiest way to find your path is to help others to find theirs.  That is why I am always volunteering to help people out.  A lot times, the solution to my problems is the same as theirs, and it easier for me to see without the emotional attachment I have to my own.

3. Stay on the Path

Remember, the most important thing is to follow your bliss!

Passion really does equal life.  The more passionate we are about our life, the more we feel alive.  The real trick is not loosing site of the things that make us feel alive.

Your turn

What tricks do you use to identify and overcome the obstacles in your life?  How did you find your bliss and what are you doing to keep following it?