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The future of entertainment

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Entertainment is perhaps one of the industries that have produced a large number of millionaires in the last couple of decades. But beyond making many rich, it has become the turf for legends, the one industry that possibly has created the highest number of stars and icons. Entertainment is perhaps the industry with the largest number of penetration and the reach across the globe. Those who understand this have used it to engineer social behaviour, introduce trends and even communicate foreign policy (I still very much believe that Hollywood is the U.S governments greatest foreign policy tool.)

Entertainment is ubiquitous. It is in your face. You really can’t get away from it. It has become a very sublime part of modern life – woven seamlessly into every fabric of societal life. Apart from education, every other industry has leveraged from the ubiquity and fluidity of the entertainment industry.

So the biggest question is: “What will happen to society if the face of entertainment is radically altered by change?” But to answer that question, we will need to first ascertain what kind of change the entertainment industry is most likely to face in the new world.

Yes, the COVID – 19 pandemics is ushering in a new world. One that may look very much like the one we had before the decade began, but technologically faster than any other age before it. What the pandemic has created is actually an incentive for acceleration.

Futurists have pointed out that the acceleration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) alone has the capacity to reorder the face of the entertainment industry-altering norms in movie, music, the creative arts and sports segments of the industry.

To really understand how talent is discovered and nurtured for the joy of entertainment, I had a discussion with one of Nigeria’s most celebrated actors – the Legendary Richard Mofe-Damijo (RMD).

His insights gave great understanding to the inner workings of talent. The fact that you need to first discover it, then develop it exclusively, manage it with the highest levels of creativity – bringing your own special spice into it such that you gain that distinguishing edge as seen in veteran movie faces like Denzel Washington, Roberto DeNiro, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts.

He spoke about the science behind taking up characters and weaning yourself out of them once you are done. He describes it as using a mask – once in a character, it’s like wearing a mask and you should do all you can to remove the mask once you are done. Remove the mask and go back to being your authentic self.

The height of creativity is being able to own a script in such a way that you don’t read from it. You understand it, assimilate it and customize it. That way you show a level of mastery that cannot be found in novices or “wanna be’s.” This in itself is a product of discipline and continuous practice. The ability to use what you have at all times, and not just mindlessly coveting what you see in others at the expense of your own talents and gifts.

On the future of entertainment, RMD pointed out that collaboration would be the one factor that ensures success for entertainers. A lot of productions are being put into smaller contents on platforms like NETFLIX; making it possible for people to have their content out – removing the major challenge of marketing and distribution. Entertainment producers can now focus on creating and producing content while they leave the hassles of marketing to the giant with global reach.

Netflix has actually turned the world of movie entertainment on its head. It happened so fast that movie marketers were dizzy before it landed fully. Netflix rose from a market capitalization of $8 billion in 2010 – funny enough, that same year, the movie retailing giant BLOCKBUSTERS filed for bankruptcy – to a whopping $185.6 billion dollars in less than a decade. Their estimated spending on content alone in 2020 is about $15billion. This is a huge market for movie producers, but if they are to meet the level of quality required for a slot on Netflix, then as RMD right surmised, collaboration might just be the way for those in the industry.

NETFLIX and businesses like it define the future for entertainment – especially movies. Nobody is using the cinemas at the moment because of the pandemic and it is not certain when people will be comfortable to use them again post COVID-19. Content will now by-pass yet another middleman, to the final consumers. The winners in the industry will be those who collaborate to either build these kinds of models or those who create quality content for the media using these models.

The future is here and irrespective of the sector you play in, it is important you rethink your models and find a way to align with what works. However, it is important to ponder on these questions: “What happens to entertainment when AI begins to take over the job of content creation and production?”

With machine learning and all, it can aggregate data and model outcomes on a level that is staggering for even the consummate professional.
“What happens when AI can create an actor’s mirror image and use that in a movie? Who gets the royalties? Who gets paid?”

If the same happens for music, arts and the likes, how exactly are the key players in entertainment going to position in that level of flux?
What will happen to the concept of “Super Star” status if a machine begins to compete in the same circle?

We sure are in interesting times.

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Shalom!
Lanre Olusola The Catalyst


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