The thing about creativity is that it isn’t a product. You can’t capture and bottle it like an artisan gin or an indigestion remedy. Creativity comes from people’s hearts and minds. It’s about confidence and self-belief, and it’s fragile and elusive and easily scared away.

How strange, then, that a large part of the global entertainment industry — with the noble exception of high-end TV drama — is committed to commoditising creativity. The reason, of course, is money: media corporations run on profit and predictability. Creativity doesn’t. It’s random and erratic and prepared to starve in an attic. From the corporates’ point of view, much easier to reign in those pesky creatives and replace their dangerous, disruptive ideas with nice, safe content that looks much like everybody’s else’s. It may not win you awards or inspire your audience or add to the watercooler conversation, but it won’t frighten the horses — or more to the point, the bean counters who now run the show.

So yes, it makes sense on paper. But it’s still a really bad way to go about creating content that people actually want to watch.

Admittedly, the entertainment industry is up against it at the moment. It’s battling on several fronts, including broadcaster risk-aversion, digital disruption, the crash and burn of the traditional business models, too many successful format franchises clogging up the schedules, and a me-too broadcast culture that no longer has the time or money to invest in development, or the patience to give shows time to take root and grow.

But I believe the core problem is today’s one-strike-and-you’re-out approach to the creative process. Somewhere along the line, we’ve stopped giving our creative talent permission to fail. But those brave enough to dream, and whose dreams are ultimately the stuff of our entertainment, need the freedom to cock up, make U-turns and chase wild geese in their pursuit of the new, the different and the original. What they don’t need is to be punished for putting their hopes and imaginations on the line.

There are two things wrong with this. The first is that judging content purely on the basis of its commercial potential makes life difficult and dispiriting for the creative community. And the second is that it doesn’t work. The irony is that audiences crave the shock and excitement of the new, not the predictability and safety of the old. Which is why those once-in-a-generation shows that come along and change the game are always, always driven by creativity rather than profit.

The blockchain’s ability to take the creative control away from the corporates and hand it to the makers and consumers of content is, for me, one of the most exciting aspects of the LiveTree ADEPT platform. Thanks to the power of the network effect, it will be individuals who decide what projects get made, and who makes them. In this brave new marketplace, the viewers will be the commissioners, and their criteria won’t be profit and shareholders and targets but what they want to see and feel and experience.

At that point, it won’t be about them anymore. At long last, it’ll be all about us.


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