The Impact of the Online Market in the Creative Industries

With the rise of the internet in the nineties, both the consumer and the market were drawn into a tonal shift. Gone were the days of mail-order catalogs and brochures with limited advertising space and availability, as then-small newcomers such as Amazon and eBay began to create a global marketplace accessible to anyone at anytime in anywhere. The corporations would catch wind of this and soon every major chain ranging from Wal-mart to Zales had their own webpage selling their products. While it was easy for larger businesses to adapt to this budding platform, it took quite some time for it to adjust to the needs of the every man. Sure, it was easy enough to put up your old belongings that you never really used that often on eBay and make a small profit, but for creators such as artists and writers it was still a rough market to work with. There was no real way to advertise until the boom of social media outlets in the late 2000’s, and in turn there was no single site at the time that would be a single hub for the various “niche” outlets seen in the creative industries (At least in comparison to some of the more commonly seen creative industries at the time like Architectural and Publishing outlets).

In 2005, a small website by the name of Etsy was created by a group of Brooklynites. The site allowed people to make personal store-fronts and upload their own creations (Mainly residing in the realm of Arts and Crafts, but also including things such as toys and bath items) that could be purchased by others, with Etsy taking a small portion of proceeds as a middleman fee. Although facing some financial troubles in its early years, Etsy would soon become a giant in the online marketplaces, taking in hundreds of millions of dollars yearly as one of the 200 most visited sites worldwide. The start of the second online market revolution had begun, giving sellers that would not be able to stand on their own a chance at both marketing and selling their products.

A 3D-printed miniature of Keanu Reeves, available for printing on Shapeways.

A 3D-printed miniature of Keanu Reeves, available for printing on Shapeways.

The rise of 3D printing has also had its own impact on the online market. While 3D printing is still a very young medium, it’s possibilities both technically and creatively are quite apparent. Sites such as Shapeways, the world’s foremost online market for 3D printed objects, acts similarly in ways to Etsy in that it allows creators to design objects in software such as Maya or 3ds Max and upload them to their site and puts them up for sale. Unlike on Etsy however, is that the seller Only needs to put up the object that will be for sale, as Shapeways prints the object from one of their own 3d printers and ships it out to the buyer.

While sites like Amazon could be seen as the department stores of the internet, sites like Shapeways and Etsy can be compared to the local Ma & Pa stores seen in small towns. Much like their the Ma and Pa stores, these online mainly exist to fill the niche of those who want to purchase their product. Not everybody may want to buy a Doctor Who-themed throw pillow or a set of custom Monopoly pieces, but there is a market for it out there, no matter how small it may be.


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