By peter katz, April 2nd, 2010

I attended the “Make vs. Gather? Successful Content Business Models” at SXSW. Here’s a description of this panel from

You make content. Good stuff. But it takes time, and money. Now you’re thinking – maybe I’ll aggregate content and be a trusted filter. Well, here’s your chance to grill the emerging aggregators. We’ll bring together folks from Web Publishing, Media, Indie Media, and content aggregation platforms to show what’s working and where it’s going.

The speaker was Steve Rosenbaum, founder of start up that creates platforms to aggregate/curate videos for websites. A heated debate between Joe and Mike about the ethics of aggregation sprang up in the audience after Steve’s panel. (fake names) Joe is the co-founder of an ad network for tech blogs. He sells their ad space to advertisers. Mike is a product manager at a company that owns some of the biggest free porn tube sites with millions of visitors a day. Porn tube sites aggregate thousands of videos from adult film companies, while making a profit from affiliate marketing and advertising.

“The tubes are making money off the studios’ investment of time and money, while the studios are forced to spend ever larger chunks of change to police the tubes and send endless takedown notices.”- Kathee Brewer, an editor at AVN, which covers the adult film industry

Argument highlights: Mike said bloggers are easily replaced like sweatshop workers because there is an overabundance of new blogs ready to fill their space. Joe responded that writers with respected brands and a large following are not created overnight. They eventually would agree to disagree.

I understand both of their views:

Mike thinks there is way too much content on the web, so one way to add value is to organize it and be paid for being a curator.

Joe wants producers to be rewarded for all their money, time, and energy it took to create content that people value.

Steve commented on this struggle in a blog:

We’re in the early days of content curration and monetization. So, if you asked the Wright Brothers if they’d have seats in First Class and Coach, they would have been hard pressed to answer standing in the back of their bicycle shop.

I agree with Steve. Technology will make this work-eventually.

Content producers can also become great curators. Imagine your favorite musicians and filmmakers filtering Internet clutter to showcase new artists. Joseph Gordon Levitt (actor from 500 days of Summer) has made a small step in the right direction with a site where creative people upload their videos, art, and music on the site to collaborate with other folks. If any content makes money splits 50% with its contributors after all the costs.

What are your thoughts on producers and aggregators?

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peter katz is an award winning filmmaker based in Los Angeles. Peter has produced genre films that have screened all over the world from the AFI Fest to the Rome Film Festival. His first picture Home Sick starred Bill Moseley from The Devil's Rejects and Tom Towles from Henry Portrait Of A Serial Killer. Next Peter worked with Tobe Hooper (director of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist) on Mortuary, which premiered on the Sci Fi Channel. Most recently he was a producer on Pop Skull, a psychological ghost film, that has received great reviews in Variety and numerous film web sites. Currently, Peter is developing projects across various mediums including film, comics, and the web.

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