Deluge of media discussed at Internet Week

More ways to make money from content online

NEW YORK -- The opportunities and challenges of the ever-growing consumption of online content and entertainment were in focus at Internet Week on Thursday.

"Consumers are taking on more media right now than they ever have before," Warner Bros. Television vp Brett Boutier said at a discussion at Midtown Manhattan's Time Warner Center, which drew a big crowd. Moderator Scott Donaton, publisher of Entertainment Weekly, even suggested it was the biggest turnout at the TW Center since Bono spoke in the same room a year or two ago.

Experts discussed the Internet's influence on entertainment culture. "Today we know what people like and what people don't like, what to push and pull, and we know it very quickly," Epic Records president Charlie Walk said. "It's changed the way you break artists." Apple Inc.'s iTunes surpassed Wal-Mart in April as the No. 1 music retailer in the U.S.

While some artists, such as AC/DC, would rather sell their music only in the form of whole albums rather than as single tracks, which iTunes doesn't allow them to do, Walk argued that iTunes is still a good thing, because it enables consumers to sample music. "If you have one good song, there's a good chance consumers are going to sample more songs, and if it's great, you develop a musical brand," he said. Walk cited Colbie Caillat who "broke" last year as an example.

"She had 3 million plays for her video on MySpace, it got upstreamed to a music company and they marketed it and it went global," he said. "So, it didn't start with a record company, it started with an artist and a song and a $25 music video. That's the beauty of where technology is going today."

Meanwhile, editor Mark Golin is skeptical about the Internet's influence on journalism. He argued that the Internet has "jacked up expectations" of what people should know, how they should know it, and when. 

"People think the barriers to entry have gone down, but in fact they've gone up," he said. "You have to be faster and more consistently accurate, because there are people who say, if I've seen it on People,com, I know it's true." To create good content, he said, requires "an immense amount of resources."

On the bright side for producers, there are more ways now than ever to make money from offering people content online, the Internet Week panel argued.

"We can charge users to have either affordability or the premium experience they want, let them download content or watch it on demand, or charge them more if they don't want to see an ad," Boutier said.