One of the best (i.e. I agree with) statements on the future of Media Distribution comes from Steve Kalifowitz on Venture Capitalist, Noah Brier’s blog on A Vision for the Future of Media Distribution. Money quote:
In this altered universe I’ve imagined, consumers will have ultimate reign, and artists will have way more freedom. The portals will at once offer two-way access from content creators to the smallest niche audiences, and the largest mass-markets. There will no longer be a studio boss, or book publisher who instructs an artist to change their art in order to distribute it. If an artist can afford to make something on their own, they can, and won’t need a distributor to reach their desired market. Artists will be free to display their work, and get paid fairly for it. The most successful artists will be picked by mass appeal, rather than by “payola” systems which enable the distribution companies to shove whatever they want down our throats.
Maybe it’s because the article strongly resonates with my own thinking, but it’s closest to the model I have in mind for the future from all the reading I’ve done so far. In the optimistic future, we have an Open Television Network, which is an open marketplace between producers and viewers (without hard distinctions between the two).