by Michael O'Neill
May 28th, 2013

Content is everywhere – and that’s a problem.

Content creators – bloggers, videographers, writers, artists, designers, musicians, journalists, directors, illustrators, actors, etc. – should be celebrating. The internet has opened up the world to them. Writers can sell novels and non-fiction directly to readers. Musicians can sell their songs right to listeners. YouTube and Vimeo have opened up huge audiences for film and video creators.

Check out these statistics:

- 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
- Amazon.com sell 114 ebooks for every 100 print books
- There are 65 million WordPress websites across the globe and they post 41.5 million posts each month

That’s just a small sampling of the content being pushed online every second of every day – posts, ebooks, status updates, tweets, videos, infographics. This should be the Age of the Content Creator. But, unfortunately, it really isn’t. Not by a long-shot.

It’s actually the Age of the Content Aggregator – or the The Age of the Content Amateur. Because the sheer volume of content is causing a glut. This glut is driving the cost of content down. So while we can celebrate content, most of it is being created for free.

In fact, some content – even good quality content – has been reduced in value to zero. Like news stories, for example. Few people are willing to shell out money for news anymore. Need the latest outcome of the big game? Google it. Thousands of results from newspapers, magazines, blogs, social networks, etc. will pop onto your screen with your game outcome. You can not only get the score, but you get analysis, play-by-play, photos and videos of the game. All for free.

This is why journalism is in its death throes and why professional news outlets are shutting down, laying off workers and trying to find a way – any way – to stay relevant during a period where their most valuable commodity has been reduced to being close to worthless.

This same thing is happening to other content.

The cost of getting hot new pop song used to be a $17.99 compact disc. It’s now $0.99 on iTunes – or a quick illegal download. Thousands of struggling artists are willing to give away their music for free. That bestseller from your favorite author used to be $25.99 hardcover. Now it is a $9.99 ebook. And if you don’t want shell out money for a book thousands of bloggers give away their content for a click.

No doubt there are wonderful results to this democratisation of content creation. But one result is unavoidable: we are drowning in content.

And a lot of the content is rubbish.

Value comes from scarcity or at least a willingness to pay for quality. But we’re in uncharted territory now. This glut is beginning to hurt content creators.

What are your thoughts on this?

George F. Snell III is senior vice-president, digital & social communications, at Weber Shandwick Boston. This article first appeared on his blog High Talk

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