Wired's fascinating The Silicon Valley Boys Aren’t Just Brilliant—They’re Part of a Comedy Revolution covers what they call the new comedy gig economy.
... a new comedy gig economy built on a hodgepodge of podcast appearances, sketch show cameos, commercials, more podcast appearances, indie-film appearances, script work, web shorts, ensemble TV roles—and, if all goes well, a WTF With Marc Maron appearance in which everyone bonds over their failed Lorne Michaels auditions.
In other words, the new comedy economy is built on multiple streams of income.
Regular readers will find this very familiar because this is exactly the same trend we're seeing across the entire independent worker landscape.
Also interesting and consistent with what's going more broadly, most of these folks have a steady income source of some kind that allows them to experiment or pursue passion projects on the side.
From the article:
... many comedians diversify their career portfolios by using a steady gig—a sitcom stint, a writing-room spot, regular stand-up engagements—to let them do whatever they want. “I always hear this story about the Will & Grace cast getting Porsches when they got picked up for a second season,” Scheer says. “We’re not in that world anymore. But when you have a bigger anchor, it allows you the freedom to not have to worry about making ends meet."
Independent workers are increasingly creating multiple streams of income to increase their earnings, reduce risk and pursue passion projects in addition to pure income producing gigs.
It's one of the reasons most on-demand economy workers are looking for highly flexible part-time work.
The key driver behind this shift is, not surprisingly, the Internet and ability to directly reach niche audiences. From the article:
In a pattern familiar to all kinds of media, the era of huge mass-market tentpoles has given way to a seemingly limitless number of outlets—some well known, others almost secret-society-like in their nicheness—in which performers can reach audiences directly.
While comedy is clearly a very small and highly specialized industry, it's interesting to see the shifts and trends that are occurring across the economy are also impacting the smallest of niches.