The concept of creative industries has been coined in the nineties of the previous century as encompassing activities both in the corporate domain of new and traditional media, entertainment, design and architecture as well as those pre-dominantly depending on public subsidies like performing and visual arts as well as public broadcasting.
Some have used cultural and creative industries to signify these activities, preferring a distinction between branches that provide creative inputs into other sectors in the economy, mainly design-based activities (creative industries), and those that provide cultural outputs for audiences, as for instance performing arts, media and entertainment (cultural industries). In the Netherlands the multifaceted nature of the creative industries was countered by introducing a three-fold concept: (1) media- and entertainment industries, (2) creative business services and (3) arts and heritage.
The advent of the creative industries as a way to define the broad field of the production, distribution and exploitation of culture, is strongly related to development of information and communication technology. The trend towards convergence spurred by digital media and the internet, is increasingly doing away with the traditional distribution based fences between creative disciplines, cultural domains and subsectors. For instance broadcasting or printed media as well as music industry, design or gaming hardly connote a recognizable, confined set of activities.
The socio-political context of the nineties of the previous century, in which the concept of the creative industries rose to prominence, marked also the heydays of neo-liberalism. Both developments are connected. The discourse of which creative industries have become part, is pre-dominantly economic. The creative industries are considered a key sector in the so-called creative economy. Initially the promotion of the creative industries, as a top sector for instance, was based on the magnitude and above average economic growth of the sector. Currently there is a shift in focus toward the catalysing effect of the creative industries for innovation—the notion of applied creativity in the economy.