LOS ANGELES — I'm the first to admit that I wanted to see the Web kill Hollywood. It just ain't happening. It's finally dawned on the studios that you can now pay artists even less to produce content, and pay YouTube absolutely nothing to distribute it. The problem is you have to sell your own ads — but the studios and networks, unlike indie content creators and Valley startups, have armies of ad sales people still at their command. And it's still a hits-based business. So while it's great to have all the creative freedom in the world, you're still going to have to wait tables and get coffee for producers while working, unpaid, on your own projects and pray to the ghost of Mae West that something ends up with mass appeal. What does success look like in the wake of the online video revolution?
A lot like it used to — everyone's still working to pay their agent, their lawyer and their accountant. No one producing video for online distribution is even thinking about hiring a maid, gardener or driver yet — not even Steve Chen and Chad Hurley. And if you think Google AdSense will cover those costs, you'll probably end up begging for change on the boulevard of broken dreams. Or maybe the off-brand Spider-Man will have a heart attack and you can take his place amusing tourists. Licensing deals, merchandise and sponsors are still the only ticket to Tinseltown riches. And old showbiz types will milk young upstarts for every penny on that end. (Photo by Steve Zaslavsky)