Happens that some ten years ago Bill and I had pretty close connections to the early days of the net becoming the ubiquitous force in all our lives that it is today. I remember in particular an article titled “Living With a Teenager.” Well look who’s all grown up and going to a party.
To prove the point there’s an article in the New York Times of 10/25 reporting on the new Internet divisions established by the top Hollywood agency, United Talent, whom we know because they are very active as dramatic rights agents in selling books to movie-makers. The Times story, however, is about the premise that “web video is on a growth curve similar to that of cable television a generation ago.” (And I know I’m supposed to insert a hot link here but I don’t know how. I’ll get a lesson from MtWW asap.)
UTA is making a pretty modest bet, three twenty-somethings run the division called UTA Online, but they’re reported to have cut a number of six figure deals with what are called “major media portals,” so probably they mean outfits like Yahoo and AOL. (Or perhaps YouTube says a small voice… keep reading.) Representing, remember, the creators of content. That’s what this is about. Who finds and represents the folks who are going to write and produce whatever it is that will fuel that growth curve? Which incidentally looks to me like combos of artists, some with writing skills and some with techie skills, but that’s getting way ahead of the story. We’re still considering whether there’s a place for agents on a medium as wild and unscripted as the current Internet video scene. Particularly since agents venturing into this territory have been burned before.
Back at the height of the dot.com boom CAA, an agency that has a hefty number of NYC literary agents as clients (as in they look for the movie buys for the books of the agent’s clients because - trust me - only in the rarest of instances do literary agents do this on their own) had an online division. It crashed when the boom did, and so far CAA says they’ve no plans to revisit the scene of the crime. Neither do we hear any rumbles at ICM or Wm Morris. But there’s an obvious issue here:
If YouTube sells for almost two billion bucks, and it gets its desirability by virtue of the content put up FOR FREE by the creators, and those creators do not see a penny of the two billion any way any how any ever… Whassup with that? Put as succinctly as possible, it sucks.
Enter the agent. As sure as God made little green apples. Later or probably sooner.
And wearing my writer’s hat I’ve got some things to say about using the net to promote a book, because God knows the publishers do not… I’ll have to blog on that at beverlyswerling.com pretty soon.