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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Crowdsourcing and the Entertainment Industry: `Mining the masses for the next big thing'

My monthly Boston Globe column focuses on how entertainment players like MTV and Netflix are using crowdsourcing to develop new kinds of content and software applications. The gist of the piece:

    Crowdsourcing essentially means throwing your arms open to the Internet community and inviting them to help create content or software. Often, there is prize money involved, but sometimes people pitch in for fun or glory (see The Internet Movie Database, originally built by users before it was acquired by Amazon.com).

    Frito-Lay tried crowdsourcing last year, when it invited any wanna be advertising execs to create a Super Bowl ad for its Doritos brand chips. The company received more than 1,000 entries, and the finalists were virtually indistinguishable from a TV spot that a Madison Avenue agency would've spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce. The snack-maker, by dangling a $10,000 prize and the promise of Super Bowl airtime, got to pick the best ad out of a very large pack.

    Bands like The Decemberists and Modest Mouse have invited fans to craft music videos, using a library of raw footage they provide. Entrepreneur Mark Cuban, who owns a pair of high-definition cable channels, recently put out a call on his blog for ideas for new shows. MTVu, the college cable network run by MTV, recently doled out $30,000 grants to teams of college students who are creating new software that could eventually be integrated into the MTVu website.

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