This is an excerpt from the introduction to my book, Don't Wait, Create: How to Be a Content Creator in the New Digital Revolution.
In the past, you had to fit into a narrow box defined by Hollywood to get your content seen and monetized. The content that we consumed, the celebrities that we admired, and mainstream pop culture as a whole were all defined largely by invisible gatekeepers shrouded in Hollywood mystery and exclusivity. However, the floodgates are now open for all types of content to enter the mainstream. The takeaway? Audiences and media platforms are starved for creative, original content, which creates the perfect opportunity for you to make the content they are seeking. “There are so many avenues now,” says actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus. “There’s just so much opportunity in terms of material and roles. There’s more flexibility, and I think that’s opened up opportunities."
Chad Hurley, former CEO of YouTube, observed, “People just don’t sit down and just watch TV at night. Between cellphones, television, video games, the Internet, and instant messaging, people are just spending their time in different places."
The epicenter of Hollywood is no longer the annual Academy Awards, which reported the lowest viewership ever in 2021 (a 56 percent drop from 2020).
While the drop-off was attributable at least in part to the pandemic, it reflected a broader trend. In 2010, the annual Academy Awards drew forty-two million viewers, but in 2020 only twenty-four million Americans tuned in. Moreover, there has been a significant cultural shift away from the big screen. For example, 70 percent of teenage Gen-Zers watch more than three hours of mobile video a day, while only 33 percent of teenage Gen-Zers watch cable television.
You no longer need anyone’s permission to create content. You could go to Sundance with a film shot entirely on your phone. You could get the representation of your dreams from a YouTube video or a TikTok. And the world is hungrier than ever for new content and voices—including yours.