The Revolutionary Evolution of the Media is a book in progress. Go here to read previous chapters.
In the beginning of this sort of detailed outline of the history of media, monetization wasn’t the point. In case you forgot, here’s a review:
Way, way back, communication was primarily local … or one-to-one or one-to-few: a family unit, for example, or the beginnings of a tribal unit. How far back? Well, about 80K to 100K years ago in the early years of homo sapiens. That original symbol representing some part of the grunts developed into language … both spoken and written. By 3500 BC, the root language of the Western World (Proto-Indo-European or PIE) was in use along with a wider variety of tongues across Asia and the not-yet-officially-discovered New World. And like most developments in history, commerce (which included both nomadic hunting and early farming) drove the development of the next steps.
Early mankind was already socially active, communally active and using tool and fire. Next step was what to do with the communicating …
Communal activities such as storytelling, song and lecture (really information transfer) were “free” until more of a semblance of civilization developed and some story tellers, singers and self-appointed or designated gurus (including priests, shaman and other religious-oriented individuals and groups) began, in effect, performing in exchange for some sort of compensation. That early compensation consisted mostly of bartered goods or services. The goods included food, clothing, animals, plots of land and more. The services included shelter and deference (or worship).
That’s how it started.
All results of literacy and commerce.
Actors and singers performed for compensation … and still do. (Copyright, of course, was way in the future.) Who might have been first, we don’t know. Or, more specifically, I couldn’t find any clues after a couple weeks of searching/guessing … but likely happened a very long time ago circa 3500 BC; about the time writing developed in Egypt, Sumeria, Mesoamerica and a little later in China. Barter persisted for centuries with “money” showing up around the fourth millennium BC. Silver bars of a certain weight were used in Mesopotamia; gold bars showed in Egypt soon after.
About the time some entertainers demanded and got compensation, the idea of a patron supporting an artist or entertainer took hold around the world. The jester, the sculptor, the bard and so on became common examples.
Modern ideas such as subscriptions and advertisements came a lot later. Patrons and members of court dominated until civilization made its next great steps as commerce began to dominate. How subscriptions grew is next.
Next week: Chapter 14, Part 2
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