The Face of Metastasis

Shane Snow Meet Shane Snow, the founder of Contently, which pimps writers out to corporate capitalists like American Express, Coke, GE, Google, Walmart, and General Motors. The service sold is “content marketing,” meaning fake journalism designed to sell more corporate products and otherwise advance the aims of big business marketing campaigns.

Ad Age reports that such efforts are a major boom industry. The various overclass flagships “are expected to spend nearly $2 billion on sponsored content in 2014.”

Mr. Snow does his pimping by “licensing software to brands to help them manage content-marketing projects and connecting these companies with freelance writers, for which it takes a 15% fee.”

As actual journalism dies via strangulation and systemic neglect, here’s how the action looks at Contently:

There is a range of writers and prices from which brands can choose. There are, for instance, best-selling authors and Pulitzer Prize nominees, youngsters fresh out of journalism school and a number of others who work for major publications but freelance on the side. Contently’s stable includes about 50,000 writers, according to Mr. Snow.

“It’s like a supermarket for writers,” said Tomas Kellner, managing editor at GE Reports, GE’s content-marketing site. “People like me, who need to scale up their operations, can get access to writers for a specific project.”

Market totalitarianism.

One Reply to “The Face of Metastasis”

  1. Only a more efficient version. Western art, such as it is called, has been controlled by marketing execs for a very, very long time.

    Artists have learned to be self-limiting, too, developing their portfolios not based on personal interest, but on what will catch the eyes of either potential customers, or potential marketing consultants. There are classes about how to put together an “eye catching portfolio” that will encourage industry publishers to use you to crank out dust jacket illustrations for the latest goblins v. elves or white man v. society. Perhaps worse, individuals are doing it inside their own heads–even in childhood, conforming their development and skill sets to what will gain corporate attention by being easily marketable to executives and end-users who don’t know how to understand what they’re looking at, except by reference to things they’ve already seen.

    Given the quality of the output, it’s incredibly pitiful that these marketers can’t just produce the product themselves. They pay writers to put together banal teaser text on the backs of books and the fronts of DVD cases, but the teaser text is just a couple hundred words about how Action John blows up the mountain and gets the girl. Since the marketers are usually smarter than the artists they hire, it’s somewhat amazing that they bother to hire them at all.

    Watching is voting.

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