Culture is future » Innovation and digital

10.11.2011

DEBATES 2011 - Referencing, prescription of cultural contents - Diversity and richness of culture on the Internet by Patrick Zelnik

Patrick Zelnik, CEO of Naïve 

Can you go back over your career and explain how referencing and prescription of cultural works have change according to you?

First of all, I prefer the term “prescription” to “marketing”, even if prescription has expanded massively with the development of marketing. Today, cultural industries are run by people from business schools and many have forgotten the purpose of marketing, namely the promotion of an artist, so the work itself that we have to present to the public.

During the last decades marketing has structured the development of prescription. Since the 1990’s the marketing spending on an album are higher than those undertaken on the creation itself. This has led to an absurd situation where word of mouth and prescription are less present, where marketing prevails over creation instead of being at its service.

Although prescription is essential insofar as it creates a link of trust with the public and guides its choices. Nowadays, however, marketing has distorted the supply by favoring products supported by substantial marketing budgets.

Do market structures play a determining role in the prescription?

Absolutely, market concentration at all levels - production, dissemination, media, distribution - has penalized new talents and marginalized cultural SMEs, making more difficult the access of their products to markets and the public.

Clearly, industry has killed the CD by taking away her power of seduction, the marketing making that we choose no more a CD for its intrinsic qualities. There is also formatting that strengthens the influence of marketing by introducing a rationality in artistic choice. The concentration also stifles the market on its distribution side: in supermarkets, 90% of supply consists of UMG and Sony products, it also the case in radio and television.

Is the Internet going to reverse this equation and generate new forms of prescription?

Internet is a great tool because it allows public to access to a multicultural musical, literary, audiovisual and film offer. Its interactivity also allows ongoing dialogue between artists and Internet users. Unfortunately, diversity and richness of the offer on the Internet face phenomena of concentration at all levels: hosts, search engines, digital media.

Frédéric Mitterrand put in charge of a mission "Creation & Internet", Guillaume Cerutti, Jacques Toubon and I, its purpose was to promote legal offer on the Internet and to fund the creation and production. Our report emphasizes the need for regulation on the Internet that ensures and conciliates the pluralism of (legal!) platforms, diversity of supply, and respect for artistic property.

Regulation implies a transfer of wealth from new operators ("pipes") to the content industries – to what was opposed the giants of the sector during the e-G8, where I insisted on this point without my proposals being relayed. I hope the Forum d’Avignon Forum will be aware of these issues as new operators must also help to finance creation without which their services would be meaningless. And they can afford it: in 2010, Apple made ​​a profit of nearly $ 14 billion while the world annual sale of music is 13 billion dollars!

Internet usages have changed. We listen to music differently even if the market kept its key players. Does this have an impact on a producer as Naïve?

The new generation will, I hope, be aware of the vital need for a sustainable creation. Indeed, thanks to digital, young people listen to music of their parents, Led Zeppelin or Hendrix. And when you listen to these artists, you realize the depth of the offer. On the Internet, we have the opportunity to promote references that are not found elsewhere and more demanding music.

However, market players, rushed by the Internet, are struggling to find new "business models".

Media or the Internet, which prescribes the best?

I will answer with an example. During the « victoire de la musique », Benjamin Biolay was competing. He was at the 60th position on iTunes. At the end of the ceremony, when Benjamin Biolay won, he was at the top position on iTunes.