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A Critical Explainer on Audience Capture
A discussion on the phenomenon on the Digital Void Podcast
How have creators lost to online audiences and platform metrics, and what are our strategies to resist the hypnotism?
One tip: Remember that the audience doesn’t know what they want.
But this Rick Rubin-ism can easily be mis-interpreted — especially as entertainment becomes more participatory, and fandoms become a north star for strategy.
A snippet of our conversation:
JC: I want to press you on something that you said because I want to prevent a deluge of emails that will contribute to some potential paralysis.
When you say, “The audience doesn’t know what they want” — can you unpack that for me?
MK: This is going back to Henry Ford, and I’ll explain the quote. It goes:
“If I asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘a faster horse.’”
They wouldn’t say, “a car” because the car didn’t actually exist yet.
Audiences don’t know what’s possible.
So when I say an audience doesn’t know what they want, yes, they have their own preferences, and attitudes, and styles — and that informs culture and that’s incredibly important...
But we also have to recognize that creators and artists have power. They have power to create net-new pieces of work. That’s all of us. We’re all creative in nature. We all have that opportunity.
What I specifically mean is, we should have the microphone in the hands of the creator, and let them hold onto that longer, rather than passing it off to the audience, because the audience themselves — yes, may have opinions — but they don’t know what the creator is capable of.
The last thing we want is for the audience to stifle, control, or capture the creator.
[This is happening every waking second, for every single person who engages online. It’s killing our creativity and risking our integrity.]
Listen to our full conversation below.