Broadcast Television has been gradually going the way of VHS over the last 10 years, according to various sources such as the Sydney Morning Herald this year (Turner, 2017), with high speed internet and a smart phone in almost every pocket. Streaming video and web based entertainment have been allowing people to stray away from the old radiation box and choose their own entertainment times like we haven’t seen since the golden age of comics.
Like the common hermit crab, creative media has found a new, bigger home online where it has enough room to spread out and grow. This opened the path for indie creators and generally creative people to start distributing their own works and sometimes, SOMETIMES… they are discovered by people that like it.
Much like the classic television rubric, successful internet shows and production companies rely on a solid fan base that watch their shows, buy their stuff and, ever since Kickstarter came on the scene, funding their productions. This is all easier when each member has someone to brag or vent to and the same kind of tech that allows hours of someone else playing a video game, also allows everyone watching it to talk to each other and discuss how they feel about it. at length… no holds barred… and unfiltered…
This is the birthplace of the online community, where The fans generate their own content within the bounds of the original show, game, cartoon, podcast,etc. by engaging with each other on the topics of the original. Suddenly these active participants gain their own following and we see the emergence of a community. This community becomes a collective force that supports each other and the creators in order to be part of something they feel is greater than the sum of it’s parts and so come together to try and add to the production they hold so dear. together. This can be most evidently seen with production groups like Rooster Teeth Productions, GameGrumps, Smosh, and literally thousands more.
Fans give direct monetary support when they buy merchandise, which is made to order a lot of the time cutting costs and risks, they give marketing support by showing the product to their friends and spreading the word, and they are even willing to give money directly to a cause if they have sufficient proof that it’s something they want and can be done through crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is a direct form of monetary support that fans can offer to creators which they are more likely to do so that the creators have more control over their production, thereby more likely to deliver familiar quality content that the fans want. But this is the higher level stuff. On the lower, I’ve had friends experience moderate, sustained success on Youtube who have had fans give voice performances, music, digital tools and services, and many other forms of support in order to help creators gain access to production elements that they may otherwise have been without.
In my own works, I am striving to create a foundation of content that anyone who is interested would be able to bond over, or at least discuss with some degree of invested interest. Personally, I hold myself accountable as a creator who is yet to prove their ability to deliver. As someone who has earned an audience. I move forward by trying to create enough to prove that I am worth believing in as I have, too often, witnessed the break of trust between a creator and their doting fans.
To speak callously, fans are a resource that no creator should overlook or take for granted. they are the grass on which a creator will graze and put a lot of energy into loving you.
According to an interview by Felicia Williams for TechCrunch, Burnie Burns of Rooster Teeth Productions (creators of Red Vs Blue, longest running web series of all time and second longest running sci-fi series ever) said “Rooster Teeth has always listened to its community, and has grown and been around for so long because we take their feedback to heart…” (Burns, 2016).
Turner, Adam. (2017, 29 March). Decline in broadcast TV viewing accelerates as Aussies tune out. Retrieved from URL on 27 April 2017.
Burns,Burnie. (2016). Rooster Teeth’s Burnie Burns on pioneering online-only video/Felicia Williams. Retrieved from URL on 27 April 2017.
Rooster Teeth’s Burnie Burns on pioneering online-only video