The end of fishmarket

The end of fishmarket

And why buying a rod may be worth thinking twice

I had an interesting conversation today about. There's a photographer creating these interesting composited photographs. You couldn't buy them. She doesn't even provide a service.

So how does it work?

Well, upon inspection you realize she's just taking part in competitions and… selling courses. This pushed me towards a broader realization:

The fish market is dead. There's just the fishing market now.

The fish market is dead.
There's just the fishing market now.

But why don't we make sense out of the fact everyone switching from fish to rods now?

For them - it's survival.

But for you, buying the rod and a fishing course - it's a choice.

And as such, it could be an unfortunate one, if not considered thoroughly.

Why? For the same reason as usually — we look just over the hood, instead of far ahead. Learning to lead is not unlike driving a car.

Back to main thought — let's unpack it on two levels.

The first one is, whatever creative practice you take — with a slow market for creative services, it's no wonder unemployed creatives turn from fish market to a fishing one.

But this is not a novel dynamic. In fact, it's typical of a dusk of every single industry. The last survivors jumping on a boat of making a few dollars off of a dying industry.

We've seen it with music.

We've seen it with graphic design.

We've seen it with stock photography — remember Unsplash? These were tough and emotional discussions with Zack Arias, and not for no reason. If you missed it - worth attention.

Now we see it with motion design, and pretty much everything-else-design.

In a wider lens, it's symptomatic for an entire industry, that's is folding in front of our eyes.

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But, there's also a deeper level.

I agree, we live in the era of abundance.

But here's why I'm not butterflies about it.

For me, what's abundant now, is not as much opportunity, as are solutions.

For me, what's abundant now, is not as much opportunity, as are solutions.

There's too many products and services

There's too much entertainment.

There's too many images.

There's too many stories.

Too many films.

The thirst and hunger is long gone.

The oversupply fatigue kicks in, all across the board.

Remember the thrill of buying a cassette tape or a CD with new music?

It was costly, and prompted consideration.

If you were lucky, you could preview at best.

The stakes were high — there was this unsatisfied thirst, and you'd better make a good decision choosing that record over the other. The next one would be a month away.

Or, even before that was available, waiting long hours into the night to record that rare jazz or rock performance aired just once in the radio?

I do.

And I remember the huger.

Today, there's no craving.

Not only that, people develop numbness, because all this great content is pushed down their throats.

The double edged sword of abundance.

If you look at (lack of) happiness studies across nations, or listen to what's happening in the creative sector — what you see is not so colorful.

Content consumers are depressed, and while I don't have a hard proof, I would bet that a strong reason of that is stimuli fatigue and abundance.

This affects creators big time — if getting through and finding your minimum viable audience becomes such a challenge, and there's already everything out there, why would you even bother to create in the first place?

And creators, besides often being desperate and frustrated, because it's now harder than ever to make a living selling creative services, are also depressed because of scarcity of psychological and emotional rewards — of connectedness. Of the fact that what you do matters to some.

I would get too far here, saying it covers the entire spectrum. Because ultimately, creators that truly create out of the need of being in the creation process that keep doing so. And artists that are there just for fame or outcomes — would be filtered out.

Back to abundance — Remember "Universe 25" and the "Mouse Utopia"?

John B. Calhoun, an American ethologist, conducted experiments with mice in the '60s and '70s, where he set up ideal living conditions with unlimited resources in an environment called "Universe 25."

Initially, the mouse population boomed, but over time, despite having everything they needed, the mice displayed severe social issues — aggression, neglect of young, and social withdrawal.

Eventually, these behaviors led to the collapse and extinction of the colony, a phenomenon Calhoun called "behavioral sink."

This research is often referenced in discussions about the potential impacts of overpopulation, but is also telling about the impact of abundance of everything on our motivations and well-being.

Anyways, let's go back to my main point.

With nearly all subindustries and the entire creative industry undergoing a massive transformation, the following question becomes more important then ever:

How do we future proof our business?

How do we future proof our business?

A moment ago, in "The end of undifferentiated studios", I unpacked several reasons for why studios have it tough now, and why revisiting the positioning your business should be of utmost importance to you.

I also sneaked in the idea of looking farther, and using that insight (or a good leap of faith) to foster a bit more visionary leadership for your firm. In fact, that will be a recurring theme, as visionary leadership is at the core of my practice.

The answer to the key question we asked ourselves a moment ago would not differ much.

If your business is down now - it's of critical importance to reinvent yourself today. If you asked my advice, put your ego aside, and seek external help to deal with it. Even if not for black-belt expertise, at least for the external perspective. As the old saying goes - you can't see the label from inside the bottle.

And if you're up, your number one priority should be how to make sure it stays up and relevant tomorrow. Anticipate changes, imagine where the industry is going, and take your clients there, before someone else does.

Because even if there's still some "business as usual" left, we're already scraping the bottom of the barrel, and it's not going to last that much longer.

What's interesting is just this year, 3 prospects approached me, all of them with their firms in a good condition. Two of them actually celebrating 20-something anniversary of their business. We talked about and worked on imagining how to future proof their business. The common thread? The owners were at their 50's to 60's.

And here's a take-away.

Even if your business is unique (I know it is), the business patterns are a bit more common. And it makes sense to learn a thing or two from the older and wiser.

By now you should have plenty of food for thought.

Before you get into that, do me a favor and please do spread information about this insights with your peers. One personal note to one friend is all I ask for. Despite I just started, we just crossed 30 subscribers mark. No, not 30 thousand.

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This makes me feel confident to keep going, and I truly appreciate every one of you.

That's it for today.

Thank you for listening and stay prolific.

Thinking bigger, seeing farther, making impact. Insights into building and evolving creative businesses and B2B brands. Coming at you from "the fast thinker", Patrick Kizny. #b2b #branding #marketing #creative