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Friday Protip: Fret About the Cream, Not The Crud

By Sanya Weathers

I was reading a discussion on indie development (in an unrelated industry – see my Wednesday column on how I freshen my thinking), and all the wonderful new processes and tools that are putting more and more power into the hands of creative people. Digital technology, open distribution, social media, crowdsourced funding, remote employees – these things and more have brought unprecedented levels of freedom and flexibility to anyone with a dream.

Independent books, movies, games, and music have always been possible, but the results looked and sounded rough and homegrown. Furthermore, one of the perennial objections to indie anything is that without gatekeepers, how will the public know what’s good? Without major publishers, producers or tastemakers, consumers will be forced to trawl through vast seas of unfiltered product, 90% of which is crud.

Ever read a slushpile? I have. 90% is a lowball estimate, and that applies to everything from Facebook apps to video games.

Now that a polished, professional looking result (and near-professional distribution) is available to pretty much anyone, I’ve seen a lot of people express concern that their own indie efforts will be drowned out by the 90% of crud, and that once-burned-twice-shy consumers will never give them a chance.

That takes me back to the discussion I was reading this morning. A community member said, paraphrased, that creative people need to worry about the cream, not the crud. Cream always rises. Indies don’t need to sweat the crud. The trouble is that with tools and technology, people who once sold their wares to the tastemakers are now going indie in order to keep more of the profits and enjoy greater creative freedom. Those guys are the real competition.

This weekend, why not explore the idea of putting your own work out there as an independent? Even if you don’t have an indie spirit, look at your job and your product and see if there’s anything you’re doing to compete with the lowest common denominator – and stop doing it. Free up the time for creativity, and for competing with the best in your field.

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