Commentary: 2010 was a watershed year for decline of mainstream entertainment

Dawn C. Chmielewski and Meg James, writing in the Los Angeles Times, January 18, 2011

Broad swaths of the entertainment business declined in 2010. DVD sales were off 13%. Music CD purchases plummeted 19%. Video game sales as well as concert and [movie] theater attendance also fell. Even the turnout for America's favorite pastimes - baseball and NASCAR - was down. And swift changes in technology will make it difficult for Hollywood to capture pre-recession levels of revenue.  So much for the value of escapism.  But perhaps most ominously, last summer the pay-television industry suffered an unprecedented net loss -- for the first time -- of customers, a yellow warning light that consumers may no longer regard cable TV as a must-have utility on par with electricity and phone service.  Although media executives continue to boast "content is king," recently released year-end data suggest entertainment companies are vulnerable to the same disruptive forces that imperiled the music and newspaper industries.  2010 now looks to be a watershed year in the confluence of two powerful trends.  The first of those forces, technology, is enabling people to get entertainment in cheaper and easier ways.  And the second, the anemic economy, is widening the gulf between the haves and the have-nots, making it tougher for some consumers to justify paying for cable or tossing a new DVD into the shopping cart.


Commentary: The great divide between the rich and the rest of America

Posted by Robert Frank on the Wall St Journal blog The Wealth Report, Jan 19, 2011

There is no such thing as the consumer economy anymore.  There is only spending by the rich, and spending by everyone else. In the current recovery, the trajectories of the two are moving in wildly different directions.  The rich are benefiting from soaring stock markets, cheap money and rapid growth overseas. The rest of America is still weighed down by unemployment, poor credit, falling real-estate values and slow domestic growth.  Economists call this a plutonomy, or an economy dominated by the rich.  Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at J.P. Morgan Chase, estimates the top 20% of wage earners account for about 40% of spending, while Mark Zandi of Moodys Analytics estimates it could be more. He says the top 5% of Americans by income may account for 37% of all consumer outlays. (Outlays include consumer spending, interest payments on installment debt and transfer payments).  The question is whether a plutonomy is sustainable. Can an island of spending by the rich overcome a sea of misery by the masses?  Mr. Zandi and others say this imbalance is inherently unstable. Relying on such a tiny slice of consumers, who are themselves highly reliant on volatile stock markets and asset prices, is no recipe for long-term growth.  "In the near term it highlights the fragility of the recovery," he said.


Commentary: What does 2011 hold for nonprofits?

Susan U. Raymond, Chief Analyst for, January 19, 2011

The "end of the recession" threatens to be a chimera for the nonprofit sector.  With 8 million jobs lost, a current track record of 100,000 created per month at best, and three graduating classes of college seniors still under-employed, we are looking at 2013-2014 before employment rates drop below 8%.  Unemployment is a major correlate to individual giving.  So, whatever plans nonprofits have put in place to weather the last three years should be re-examined and reinforced.... Nonprofits [should] carefully examine revenue strategy and look for ways to diversify programs, services, and revenue streams.  Nearly every nonprofit should be asking critical questions about its viability, and about the merits of program collaboration (at least) and merger (perhaps) with others in the sector.... These are exciting times.  They are times of extraordinary opportunity for change and evolution.  The future will belong to those who move forward with aggressive strategies for innovation.  In 2020, the nonprofit sector will look nothing like it did in 2005.  It will be leaner, stronger, more muscled, and prepared to be more nimble in, and hence more meaningful in, a changed world.


Commentary: We have too many arts orgs -- and too many that are too big

Posted by Diane Ragsdale on her ArtsJournal blog Jumper, January 16, 2011

My dad used to keep a goldfish pond in our back yard. Without some form of population control, goldfish ponds can become overstocked, a situtation in which the fish become sick, or even die, from lack of oxygen and competitive stress.  The Kresge Foundation and Grantmakers in the Arts have spearheaded an initiative aimed at addressing chronic undercapitalization of the arts sector. [They suggest] we have an overstocked arts pond.  According to the Urban Institute, from 2003-2008 (on average), a new non-profit arts organization was created at a rate of one every three hours.  We appear to have neither the mechanism nor the will to effectively downsize the sector and thus we have created a rivalrous environment.  And how have arts groups responded?  Many have grown their institutions, making ever-increasing investments in marketing, development, high profile leaders, and buildings in order to be winners in the desperate fight for prestige, press, audiences, trustees, and donors.  Where did they find the money to grow, you ask?  When you look at the balance sheets of organizations it's clear that many of them didn't.  They now have what we call 'structural deficits' and many of them have incurred debt or raided their endowments to keep their organizations afloat. So we have not only a 'fish too many' problem, we also have a 'fish too big' problem.


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2010 update: How big is the Internet now?

Posted on the blog of the web company Royal Pingdom, January 12, 2011 [hat tip to Erik Gensler]

Internet users

1.97 billion - Internet users worldwide (as of June 2010).

14% - Increase in Internet users since the previous year.


1.88 billion - The number of email users worldwide.

480 million - New email users since the year before.

107 trillion - The number of emails sent on the Internet in 2010.

89.1% - The share of emails that were spam.


2 billion - The number of videos watched per day on YouTube.

35 - Hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute.

186 - The number of online videos the average Internet user watches in a month (USA).

84% - Share of U.S. Internet users that view videos online

14% - Share of U.S. Internet users that have uploaded videos online

2+ billion - The number of videos watched per month on Facebook.

20 million - Videos uploaded to Facebook per month.


5 billion - Photos hosted by Flickr (as of September 2010).

36 billion -the number of photos uploaded to Facebook in 2010

Social media

152 million - The number of blogs on the Internet

175 million - People on Twitter as of September 2010

25 billion - Number of sent tweets on Twitter in 2010

600 million - People on Facebook at the end of 2010.

250 million - New people on Facebook in 2010.

70% - Share of Facebook's user base located outside the United States.

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