Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Remembering Miss Lou the Cultural Icon

September 7, 2009 was the 90th birthday of the Hon. Louise Bennett Coverley, the Jamaican cultural icon more popularly known as Miss Lou. Miss Lou has had a positive impact on the respect and appreciation I have for the Jamaican language and culture. I really do believe that the Jamaican culture is a very good foundation upon which we can build a viable entertainment economy, therefore, it is on this premise that I pause to remember the contribution of Miss Lou to reinforcing that foundation. I hope you can enjoy her in these youtube videos as much as I have. The Jamaica Gleaner carried the articles Queen of Creole still reigns and Ode to 'Miss Lou' in tribute to her work. They give very good insight into how her work has contributed to the foundation upon which we can build, enjoy!
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Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Fastest Cat on the Planet

"We're the fastest cat on the planet", so says Puma CEO, Jochen Zeitz in talking to CNN's Jim Boulden about the company's partnership with Usain Bolt and sponsoring other athletes. Who says you don't get what you pay for? This is a great example of how Puma has tied themselves to the brand Jamaica and monetized that relationship. If only the national leaders were able to lead us in monetizing all this attention to the nation's benefit. The Financial Times on August 22 reported that, "an independent organization has estimated Mr Bolt's media value at €250m ($358m)." If he is worth that much to Puma, he is at least of similar value to Jamaica. However, the difference is Puma has products to sell, and sell they did and continue to do. The same article pointed out that Puma sold out of their "Yaam" shoe, "a lifestyle version of [Bolt's] shoes and a Jamaican sports cloth collection." The CEO made it clear that Puma is moving to incorporate more of the Jamaican lifestyle into their lines. According to him, desirability is key, and clearly Jamaica can deliver on that desirability. For the record, brand Jamaica is not the only lifestyle Puma is targeting. He made a point of speaking to how they will position the company to take advantage of, as he calls it, "the African way of life" for the World Cup in South Africa. If there still exists doubt about the rise of a new economy, rooted in culture, there could never be a better example to illustrate and connect the dots for the doubters. The dynamic of our world is changing, and if the opportunities are not grasped now, then I'm afraid we might very well be witness to history repeating itself. With ill-equipped post-holders aplenty, leadership and vision are lacking. So, as we fight one another for the power and the glory, Jah kingdom goes to waste. You can watch the full interview on CNN Video here. P.S. Check out my new Urban Yard shop, there's something there for you. If you don't see it then suggest it.
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Entertainment Business Schools

A number of persons have reached out to me wanting some information on where they could consider attending school for entertainment industry training. I've found that a great resource is the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association (MEIEA) website. They maintain a list of schools that offer certificates, bachelors and masters programs in the field of entertainment. I must confess that the majority of programs are geared towards music business preparation. The list includes the BA in Entertainment and Cultural Enterprise Management at the University of the West Indies, Mona. If you want to focus on other areas of the entertainment business, including sports management, Full Sail University may be one place you could consider. I find they have a very diverse offering:
BACHELORS Computer Animation Digital Arts & Design Entertainment Business Film Game Art Game Development Music Business Recording Arts Show Production and Touring Web Design and Development Graphic Design Internet Marketing MASTERS Entertainment Business Entertainment Business: Sports Management Elective Track Internet Marketing Game Design Media Design Education Media Design & Technology
MEIEA is a good place to start, but I know for a fact that some other good programs are not listed here, like New York University's BSc and MBA in Entertainment, Media and Technology or Columbia's MBA in Media that has significant entertainment business focus. I suggest you spend some time researching outside of this list just to be sure that you are exploring all your options. You will know what is right for you when you see it. One thing is for sure though, getting yourself qualified is an investment that could go a long way in ensuring your success in the entertainment business.
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Friday, August 21, 2009

Bolting to the Bank

As Usain Bolt marks another birthday, many track and field fans are celebrating the occasion with him, being very mindful of his establishment of another set of world records. There's really no greater gift he could ask for, is there? How many persons can boast that they earned a gift of two world records? The man is in a class by himself, an extraordinary phenomenon that defies explanation. I couldn't help but think about what this continued success means for him, and his economic well being, not that the latter is under threat.

I have written in the past about the role alliances between entertainment and traditional business can play in contributing to the development of an entertainment economy in Jamaica, and by extension the Caribbean. So I went searching on the Internet to discover how the Bolt phenomenon is being leveraged. The fact is, athlete Usain Bolt has moved from being a mere runner to become a celebrity, known not only for his record breaking achievements but also his likability. The media love him because he provides good entertainment. I can't say I've found out all there is to know, but I'll share some of what I found along with some of my thoughts. I do discuss some legal issues that should not be taken as legal advice. I suggest consulting with an attorney-at-law if there is some idea you want to act on.

Sneaker Freaker Magazine on July 25 had this release:
Olympic sprint star Usain Bolt has just released his Gold Collection online at Puma's e-shop, giving fans and aspiring athletes the chance to rock his golden steez. Capitalizing on his unbeaten record for fastest 100 and 200 metre sprints, Bolt in collaboration with Puma bang out a metallic menagerie of product.

The products they spoke about can be seen here on the Puma e-shop.

So what might all this mean in dollars and cents? Usain Bolt has a standing endorsement arrangement in place with Puma, which includes the grant of a license to use his identity (image and likeness) for the sale and promotion of products.

Licensing serves a number of functions depending on the objectives of each party. It benefits the licensor, or brand owner by, 1) helping to build their brand, 2) helping to protect trademarks, and 3) generating revenue. One the other hand, a licensee, or manufacturer may benefit by using a license arrangement to, 1) grow market share, 2) build competitive advantages, and 3) generate revenue. From the list of benefits we can conclude that it appears to be a win-win situation for both parties.

For a star like Usain Bolt, endorsement contracts along with a licensing provision could be very lucrative ways to supplement his revenue. For instance, it could allow him to take full advantage of his fame by having his image and likeness translated into merchandise that fans buy and want to be associated with. In the case of licensing for consumer products, a typical licensor could expect to earn royalties representing 10% of wholesale sales (5% of retail sales) paid to him usually on a quarterly basis. It is also quite typical of these deals to include an advance payment that is non-refundable and fully recoupable. Of course, all of this is subject to the specifics of the individual contract and the relative celebrity power of the talent. That said, for the sake of my point assume that wherever you see official licensed products the talent's representatives are probably collecting about 5% of the selling price (mind you, all 5% will not end up in the hands of the talent) - let me emphasize that this is not necessarily the structure of Usain Bolt's Puma contract, but rather it is the general expectation of licensing contracts based on the current licensing practices. This is not bad return for just being a star. As far is I could see, there are two official Usain Bolt licensees, Puma of Germany and Sun Island of Jamaica. (I'd be happy to know if there are others). The latter making it very clear that the license they have restrict them to sell only in Jamaica.

This therefore begs the question, who are all these other folk selling Usain Bolt merchandise? A quick peek at www.zazzle.com reveals a slew of vendors trying to cash in. The point I'll make here is that licensing is not the be-all and end-all of the process, because after the agreements come the policing. Many of those who are trying to hustle the name are in fact in breach of intellectual property laws. Bolt's image and likeness are his, and only he, or his assignees have a right to determine how they are used/exploited.

Typically, licensing deals will be specific on matters having to do with territory (as with Sun Island) in which the licensee can sell the products, the time period, and the product category. Often the initial deal will be 3 years with an option to renew, while the agreement will also speak to the matter of exclusivity (or non-exclusivity) granted to the licensee. There are a number of other elements to consider, but I will explain them at another time. Suffice to say that with these agreements artists and other celebrities can design for themselves a solid source of revenue.

I am not going to suggest that landing some of these arrangements will be a walk in the park, but it can be done. Neither will I suggest that they are for everyone. Recently, I wrote a post about reggae artist Levi Roots and his arrangement with the Subway restaurant chain in the UK. The more recent story is that, "Mighty Crown Celebrates New Sneaker Deal with Explosive World Tour". According to the release the Mighty Crown is the most successful non-Jamaican dancehall sound system worldwide. Here's a quote:

The super sound Mighty Crown has once again collaborated with Nike to release the Dynasty High sneaker. The unique studded sneaker is an elite revamp of Nike’s 1981 original Dynasty High. Blazoned with the Crown logo on the tongue, the sneaker is being released in conjunction with the Anniversary of Mighty Crown’s Yokohama Reggae Festival (SAI) — Japan’s largest Reggae stage show.

This is the third sneaker deal for the Japanese sound system, and they currently have two clothing lines and a dancehall magazine. There is a lesson in here somewhere for the Jamaican originators, so take from it what you will.

It would seem to me that our entertainment economy is not a pipe dream after all, hinged as it is upon Jamaican entertainment (music, arts, sports) and culture (cuisine, language, rastafari). If we can get past the fact that we may not all become mega stars, earning mega bucks, to looking at the ways that we can exploit the niches and through creative arrangements secure for our talent some steady sources of revenue, we may be surprised at what the combined revenues begin to look like. Licensees may not all be able to sign on with a Usain Bolt, but there are lesser-known stars with commercial potential worth considering.

So then, while I think Puma is willing to ride this wave to the bank, thanks to Usain Bolt, I doubt they have the long-term interest of making any significant contribution to the growth of the Jamaican economy, and why should they? The long-term exploitation of this revenue option is really up to Jamaican talent and their management. The question is, are these Jamaicans up to the challenge?

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Writing Jamaican the Jamaican Way

I really appreciate the dialog that has gone on, mostly on Facebook, around the post titled The Reggae Artist as Entrepreneur. I am confident that we can successfully build this business, but it will have to be a collective effort. I think everyone has something to contribute.

Having drawn attention to Reggae Chicken Sub website hosted by Subway UK, I also brought attention to some mis-representations. As I understand it, some disagree with the interpretations given to two of the commonly used Jamaican words. I'm sure that if this were pointed out to Subway UK a correction could be made. Individuals, corporations and even news media make mistakes, that are later corrected. In my humble opinion that is hardly a reason to malign the effort. The fact that the product is there is an achievement, and represents an example to our entertainment sector. The glass is half full.

It doesn't end there though! This gives rise to a related issue, one I think I should bring attention to by showing the connections in a more concrete way, so that more persons understand the relationships, particularly between academia and popular culture, including the entertainment business.

The Jamaica Language Unit at the University of the West Indies, Mona (UWI) has for years been trying to bring across the message of respect for the spoken language of the common people, referred to as Patwa, in Jamaica. They have refined a standard writing system, and they have sought the intervention of the relevant government bodies to have the system used in schools. They have met massive resistance. An explanation, among the many they have advanced in favor of the system, is they are of the opinion that teaching in the native language better enables the students to learn their second language, English. Apparently, from experiments conducted with the assistance of the UWI, this has shown itself to be favorable. From information gathered from their website it appears they even went as far as to a Committee of Parliament. It says:
In May, 2001, representations were made to the Joint Select Committee of the Parliament of Jamaica on the draft Charter of Rights (Constitutional Amendment Bill) on the need to include within the charter freedom from discrimination on the grounds of language.

That said, the point I want to make is that if efforts like these are not given legs to stand on, then on what basis can we advance a substantial argument against what interpretations local or foreign institutions or individuals give to our language? Clearly, this becomes a case of what you think a word means versus what I think it means. Increasingly, as brand Jamaica gains prominence and commercial value, primarily through music and sports, what are the standards that apply? The Levi Roots and Subway partnership is but one example of the commercial application of the Jamaican language, there are many more examples on which we can draw. As many different individuals as there are, there will be as many "versions" of the speech being written, and we will forever continue to protest about mis-representation with no credible basis on which to challenge. I'm not saying that this cannot continue as presently obtains, but it is not the most efficient way to do business.

I'm reminded of an example a professor shared. She recalled getting an inquiry from Japan wherein she was being asked to recommend a school in Jamaica that this Japanese could attend to learn Jamaican. There was none she could have recommended. There being no such institution that was income lost for a nation in financial trouble. That could have been a Jamaican teacher employed, more so now in a time when we complain about "can't find work". With there being few serious grammar texts, no CDs or DVDs Rosetta Stone style, that is income lost. I could go on but I hope my point is made. All is not lost though as small steps are being made. Here's a video produced by the Jamaica Language Unit to promote the June 2009 launch of their new publication on writing Jamaican. You can also check in on their very current TV Fi Wi here as well.

There are those who advance an argument that the language cannot accommodate serious discussion. In response, the Unit produced a series of academic discussions in Patwa. Have a look at the video below.

There is also the argument advanced about the language being purely a spoken one. Evidently, with the changing times there is need to write it, and since necessity is the mother of invention, we need to invent and move along. Time will not stop for us friends. I am not equipped to give a lecture on the dynamics of language, the linguists can do that best, but writing a language does not cause it to lose its vibe, its nuances, its color, and its energy. As far as I have learned, for the most part you first write what you speak, and as a result we create ways to express the beauty of the language in writing, I suspect that is what the better poets (dub poets), and writers (novelists, songwriters) do.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

You Don't Need a Hit to Survive

One thing always leads to another, and in true form, Scott Kirsner's recent list of The Four Kinds of Fans led me to the Kevin Kelly's 1,000 True Fans article. I'll get to Kelly's article after I give you Kirsner's list.

The relevance of this lies in the question Kirsner asks, how do you get your fans to do something? The truth is, getting a response is a major preoccupation of ours in the entertainment and culture business, since if our targets don't respond to what we do we would be advised to do something else. In light of this, his rationale for categorizing the kinds of fans make good sense. The four kinds of fans as he sees them are:

1. The Impulse Fan. The impulse fan sees a video you've made, or hears about your band from their roommate, and signs up to follow you on Twitter or joins your Facebook group.

2. The Prospective / Occasional Fan. The prospective fan is someone who can be lured out to a show or screening, or convinced to buy a new CD/DVD, but with some effort.

3. The True Fan. Kevin Kelly defined the True Fan as "someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce."

4. The Super Fan. The Super Fan is a True Fan who is willing to help you out in some way.

Kirsner has a discussion about this going on his blog. He also details the characteristics of each there. Click here to read it. It can't hurt to learn more about building that relationship with your different kinds of fans.

That said, according to the blogger Kevin Kelly all you need is 1,000 True Fans. In his blog he says:

You don't need to aim for the short head of best-sellerdom to escape the long tail. There is a place in the middle, that is not very far away from the tail, where you can at least make a living. That mid-way haven is called 1,000 True Fans. It is an alternate destination for an artist to aim for.

Young artists starting out in this digitally mediated world have another path other than stardom, a path made possible by the very technology that creates the long tail. Instead of trying to reach the narrow and unlikely peaks of platinum hits, bestseller blockbusters, and celebrity status, they can aim for direct connection with 1,000 True Fans. It's a much saner destination to hope for. You make a living instead of a fortune. You are surrounded not by fad and fashionable infatuation, but by True Fans. And you are much more likely to actually arrive there.

There are possible negatives though, since this suggestion is calculated based on you being a solo artist. It varies also based on the kind of creative work you do, singing, writing, graphic work, etc. The medium will also determine if this successful, that is, if you are a musician, a painter, or a film-maker. No doubt, your location and the spending power of your fans will also impact the final numbers. Click here to read his full post.

The blog goes on to talk about Fundable as a useful way for creatives to fund their projects. This source may not be available to all who might read this, but the principle is that the fans help to pay for the production of the work by making contributions. This in some ways translates to pledging as we often do for a range of social projects, but in this case, its pledging to a creative project. Its worth considering in my opinion. He wraps up his post saying, "the usual alternative to making a living based on True Fans is poverty." Could this be for real? You bet!

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Monday, August 3, 2009

The Reggae Artist as Entrepreneur

Reggae singer Levi Roots has been on a roll, and "putting music in your food" in the process. Since 2007 he has become known as the singing chef and noted entrepreneur. His more recent, July 2009, success seems to be his Reggae Reggae Chicken Breast Sub offered by the Subway chain in the UK. Click here to view the site. The site is complete with the nutritional low down on the product, a Levi Subway song, and a guide to speaking Jamaican. The last two are offered as free downloads. Check out the TV ad for the sandwich below.

Levi Roots has an interesting website, I like the promotional video on the site. He is evidently a very busy entrepreneur who finds the time to create new music, promote his sauce, promote his Reggae Reggae Cookbook, speak to students, and do some TV cook show gigs. Click on the highlight here to watch his "How to prepare jerk chicken" video. Based on the info on his website, Subway is not the only restaurant where this artist has his product on the menu. He does have his sauce associated with a fish burger at Hungry Horse in the UK. Here's a video of Levi Roots cooking on the BBC Good Food Show to promote his recipes as featured in his Reggae Reggae Cookbook.

Levi Roots' success has not come easy as he testified. He did much on his own, but things took off after he received £25,000 from two investors who took a 20% stake in his business. This apparently wasn't a bad deal, one of the investors made one phone call and got his products into the Sainsbury's retail chain. There's been no looking back since. Here's a video of Levi Roots talking about what it takes to be an entrepreneur, the video is part of the Inspiring Entrepreneurs series in the UK. Take note of his thoughts on Caribbean food at the end.
(USP = unique selling point)

I remain a champion of the idea that we need to introduce more Jamaicans to the possibilities of cultural enterprise. I led the design of the BA in Entertainment and Cultural Enterprise Management at the University of the West Indies (UWI) so that we could address this. However, the buy-in at the top has been very very slow in coming. Part of the challenge comes from what economics professor Vanus James identified as the paradox of entrepreneurship in the Caribbean. He wrote, "entrepreneurs with substantial capital are usually not drawn to invest in key creative activities of the copyright sector, such as music; those entrepreneurs who are drawn typically have only small amounts of capital." I'm pretty confident that Levi Roots would never have attracted that £25,000 investment from the Caribbean. This is a sad reality, because there are many many more business opportunities I see coming out of Jamaican music and culture by leveraging the range of our intellectual property in a variety of ways.

For starters, creatives will need to take themselves more seriously and think big, but equally, the folks in the Caribbean with capital need to seriously work on their biases. I think Levi Roots is an entrepreneur that we should invite to impart some of what he learned along the way if we want to take what we do to a higher level.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Marley Coffee Brews Canadian Distribution Deal

The story of the Marley coffee brand continues to unfold. Here is a recent update from the Global License magazine:

"La Grotta Del Formaggio has been tapped to distribute Marley Coffee throughout Vancouver, British Columbia. The coffee brand is also awaiting approval of its Jamaican coffee industry board license to expand its presence internationally.

“My first priority is to ensure that our farm reflects my father’s dream of a better world for all people,” says Rohan Marley, co-founder and chairman of Marley Coffee. “My day-to-day job is to share his dream with the world and to help guide this company so that the dream is embodied in all of our business activities.”

Rohan Marley, son of iconic musician Bob Marley, and friend Shane Whittle launched the coffee line in June. The beans, cultivated from the Marley family farm in Jamaica, are certified organic and feature five blends with titles such as Mystic Morning Wake Up, Simmer Down, One Love, Lively Up! and Jammin Java. Proceeds from the sales of the coffee will go to the Marley Coffee Foundation, which helps youth soccer programs in rural coffee-growing regions in Jamaica. The coffees are also available at www.marleycoffee.com.

In February, Hilco Consumer Capital was tapped by The Bob Marley family to handle the musician’s licensing and retail ventures."

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Considerations for Design Contracts

"Creative ... is the soul of entertainment, but copyright is the key to the cash", wrote Al Lieberman, professor and Executive Director of the Entertainment, Media and Technology Program at NYU's Stern School of Business, in his book The Entertainment Marketing Revolution. Ignore the legal side of the business and your sojourn within the entertainment business is bound to be one with many regrets.

On the other hand, its not terribly difficult to ensure you always have the law on your side. To do this will require some common sense decision making and discipline on your part. The truth is there are many who know the right thing to do, yet not do it. It's a human condition.

In virtually every business project that I've been involved with I've had to work with a graphic artist at some point. Given those experiences I know that this design contract post by Brian Hoff from The Design Cubicle is relevant. The post is titled, What to Include in Your Design Contracts. As he points out, this is just a start given that so much more can be included. However, if you consider these pointers when you begin to engage design services you will be well on your way. It is true that knowing is half the battle. Of course, there is no harm done in consulting a lawyer when doing your project since this should not be understood as a substitute for legal advice.

I am thankful to Donnie Crawford for this link, What to Include in Your Design Contracts.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Licensing and Brand Management for Musicians

I recently gave an interview to Music Business Consultant Simone Harris for her new online program Mind Your Own Business. We had a good chat and it was an honor to share some insight on the business of licensing as a way to move forward for our creatives. You can listen to the interview here, its a little choppy since we chatted using Skype, but you will hear the important stuff nevertheless.
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Evian Puts Internet Marketing To Work

The Evian Live Young campaign seems destined to be an advertisement campaign we'll be talking about for a while. Things seem to be going exactly as the Evian marketers expect and the proof is the fact that people are actually going online to search out these advertisements. Check out the campaign's Evian roller babies page when you have some time.

The videos were released July 6 on YouTube. Since then I've seen many mentions online, including them being the feature of news reports in print and on TV. That kind of exposure is the envy of many. A quick check on YouTube shows that each of the released versions has already passed the 5 million views mark, and I don't think that will slow down any time soon. The plan from the start was to go viral and make full use of social media. On facebook you will find an Evian babies fan page as well as at least 3 profiles for some of the 96 babies used to create these commercials (no kidding). And just in case you want your own copies of the music there are links for that too.

Here is a paragraph from the press release:
The new ad campaign personifies the “Live YoungTM” message in a humorous and entertaining fashion with a pop-culture slant. Directed by Michael Gracey (part of the creative circle behind Baz Lurhman’s “Romeo and Juliet” and “Moulin Rouge”), 96 babies were filmed for the spots, which feature roller break-dancing routines set to a Rapper’s Delight remix by Dan the Automator. The famed California hip-hop producer’s remix will be available as an MP3 from all major international digital download sites, just one way Evian is placing the Web at the heart of this campaign.

Here's the US version of the ad:

Below are two teasers the company released in their viral pre-launch. Ebru TV reported that these were released on YouTube and DailyMotion as well as to a platform of about 8,000 bloggers who would help generate some buzz. Have a look.

Teaser #1 - Baby Breakdance

Teaser #2 - Baby Moonwalk

Of course, no recent film production would be complete without a behind the scenes look, so here you have it - the making of Evian roller babies.

I'm interested to know how much was budgeted for this campaign and what percentage of that went into production versus distribution. We can be fairly certain that going viral would have reduced the company's distribution costs of this advertisement. By all appearances the viral spread has traction and it seems that Evian is walking away from this a winner. I suppose then that the question is how will this campaign impact the sales of the brand? Are you more likely to buy the Evian branded water when you go shopping?

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mobile Marketing Trends In Entertainment

For the next few weeks I'll be attending the course Mobile Marketing and Commerce. This promises to be very interesting. The instructor, Bill Thompson, shared with us an interview he gave to the CD Baby DIY Musician Podcast team in March 2009. I found it very informative and so I'm sharing the link with you, click the link below to listen -

#053: Bill Thompson - Mobile Marketing

From the intro:
For the indie artist, the mobile phone offers a world of possibility... The cell phone has rapidly evolved. It’s hard to even think of another technology that has changed as quickly as mobile phone technology. The way we use our phones has changed drastically as well. What started as just a portable phone, has turned into what is now basically a pocket computer. In many cases, the actual phone is the least used feature of the device.

I think whether you're an upcoming artist or a corporate manager, there is some useful information in this 35 min interview for you. I don't expect that most readers will be in a position to implement anything, but it is useful to be aware of the trends since it gives you options.

In addition to the Mobile Marketing Association resource mentioned in the interview, here's the link to another new resource, Mobile Marketer.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

If you want to know what Social Media is - be nice or leave!

Are you a part of the passive massive? If you are reading this, then you're probably mediated and are a part of the social media landscape (and not among the passive massive), so this post should have some relevance to you. I came across this presentation on Monty C. Metzger's blog. It is a presentation by Faris Yakob, Chief Technology Strategist, McCann-Erickson in New York.

This 49 min. presentation has some heavy stuff and touches on many related topics, but I chose this quote to make my point, "people love brands, they are artifacts of culture, they are the things by which we define ourselves." I think this is such an accurate statement. Yes, in today's world, brands are artifacts of culture. What does this mean for how we understand and re-present our culture? This is a good discussion point. I do believe that our culture has to be the base of any entertainment economy that we can expect to grow in the Caribbean, which is the source of my obsession with how do we make it happen.

Faris points out that social media is not one thing but rather a collection of many things which makes it all the more interesting. Nevertheless, he emphasizes that all media is social. It worth pointing out too that his emphasis is on the emerging cultural practices and not what are the emerging technologies. This is big, because it means his message will be equally relevant to the folks who aren't among the tech savvy.

Here are some tips he gives for engaging social media if you are a brand:

1. listen
2. respond
3. nurture
4. create social objects - bring people together, give them something to do
5. be transparent
6. join the conversation

He concludes that we are all inherently social. It means then that how brands engage people through social media need to be carefully approached, because social media does not like ads that are about products, rather, interacting with people should be the main objective. Be nice or leave!

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Legacy Licensing: Bob Marley and now Michael Jackson

Branding the dead is big business, and with the transition of Michael Jackson we can expect to be seeing more of him around than ever before. Its morbid, I know, but don't shoot the messenger. I was is disbelief for days when I first heard the news of MJ's passing, it took days to sink in, and when it did, I started bracing myself because I immediately knew that his memory would be kept alive for generations to come, even more that Elvis. Check out this link, Bluewater to Release Michael Jackson Collectible Comic. Many of us see this phenomena of famous dead people's merchandise and wonder what's the draw, but it really comes down to the emotional connection that the individual made through their work. In this case, its all about the living and them wanting to express respect for that relationship. Such is the power of building a fan base while alive if you're a creative. Love your fans and they will take care of you and your generations yet unborn, its no fluke, its real. As regards our very own Jamaican superstar, Bob Marley, since you know we couldn't be left out, the article Legacy Licensing Lives On reports that,
Hilco will license a 2010 Bob Marley 65th Anniversary program that will include accessories, apparel, footwear, food and beverage, collectibles, luggage, musical instruments and promotions/entertainment, stationery, plus the hospitality segment covering restaurants, cafes, hotels and resorts/spas.
For those of you who've been wondering about the Bob Marley shoes, hol' tight, dem coming back. Here's another article for you, Dead Celebs: Branding Beyond the Grave, it details far more than I need to say here. If nothing else though I hope I am able to move the current thinking about our Caribbean entertainment and cultural products further along. There are a host of unexplored dimensions to this business my people, break the mold!
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Monday, July 6, 2009

Business Lessons from the World-Class Usain Bolt

Here's a management lesson for you. John Weeks, Professor of Organizational Behavior at IMD, a leading global business school in Switzerland, draws on examples from Usain Bolt to illustrate his management lessons in the article Business Lessons from a World-Class Athlete. Thanks to Dr. Noel Cowell from the Dept of Management Studies at the University of the West Indies (UWI) for sharing this link. It is inspirational and makes a very good read. If nothing else, it serves to have us look at ourselves in a different light. I'm pretty sure there are more of these management lessons that could be found among some of our entertainment and sports stars. It certainly makes for more relevant and interesting teaching material. I am pleased to see in the article that Professor Weeks will take part in an event with Usain Bolt on July 6, 2009 (today) at IMD in which the Olympic gold medalist will share his insights on motivation with a business audience. It pays to be good at what you do, doesn't it?
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Monday, June 29, 2009

Musician made $19,000 in 10 hours using Twitter

Been doing some catching up and came across this story from Mike King's Music Business and Trend Mongering blog. Its a neat case of being entrepreneurial and having fun while at it. I'm always on the look out for the "how to" features since those really matter in the scheme of achieving success. I took the time to read the post and some of the comments that followed. Ultimately, being successful in cyberspace will require some daring and some creativity; it helps if you're prepared when opportunity knocks too. This solution is not for every Jamaican artist, at least not immediately, and you'll see why, but it doesn't hurt to know.

Hope this helps you to connect the dots for when you're putting together your own outreach plan. Love your fans and they'll love you back for life!

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Consumers Hungry for Jamaica

Had a discussion on Wednesday with some colleagues here a Full Sail University following a business planning presentation I made. What struck me was just how hungry these ordinary American and Irish folk are to know more about Jamaica. Most of these folks actually consume reggae music, but there is hardly much else that makes its way to them. Funny enough, they were able to relay to me some of the typical misconceptions about Rastafari and some other Jamaican stereotypes, one even expressed surprise at the fact that ganja (marijuana) is illegal in Jamaica. It is what it is. I raise this to say that there is a hunger for what this little nation has to offer and the ball is really now in our court to deliver. I’m on the lookout for some viable business ideas that can deliver this dynamic and fascinating culture to the world, and some investors who wouldn’t mind funding that delivery, so let’s talk. Walk good, an good duppy walk wid yuh!
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Today's Jamaica Means Business

Thought I'd share this link with you. I pulled it from the folks at SiliconCaribe who commented on the Jamaican's Business Opportunity Service (JBOS). This is a service provided by Jamaica Trade and Invest (JTI) and the objective is to match those who need services with those who can provide them (buyers and sellers). Take a look at the 10 approved clusters they have formed, and they do have some contact information listed. Also, you might want to check out the Links and Business Match Making page. If you want an idea of what's on paper as some of the business opportunities you can download a copy of the Investment and Opportunities Directory (bottom right on the page). It certainly seems like a well put together publication and the creative industries, inclusive of entertainment, are represented.
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Brave New Brand: The "Entertainment Economy" has arrived

I found this post by Erik Nielsen quite reaffirming. It dates back to March 2009, but it makes a point that I think is useful for you my reader. Brave New Brand: The "Entertainment Economy" has arrived The need to be prepared for this Entertainment Economy is real and its primarily about content. I think we can point to lots of content (some very creative content) on the Jamaican cultural landscape, but the question is, how will we manage it. I'm reminded of a quote from Al Lieberman, professor and Executive Director of the Entertainment, Media and Technology Program at NYU's Stern School of Business, in his book The Entertainment Marketing Revolution. It reads, "the creative element is the soul of entertainment, but copyright is the key to the cash." How often have we heard this? If you're in the business to make a profitable living its worth knowing about these things. On the other hand, if you just want to vibe, you really don't need to pay me much mind.
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Monday, June 22, 2009

The Marley Coffee Brand

I ended the last post by mentioning the Marley's and licensing so I thought I'd share this update with you. On June 15 the Global License Magazine carried an article about Rohan Marley and a partner kicking off the Marley Coffee brand. Read the update here. Essentially, if you are an artist or some other creative and you have a good name, or a product, there are some real money-making opportunities out there for you. Your name can be extended into areas you probably never dreamed, just imagine, would Bob Marley ever have thought there would be the day when his name was used to brand Jamaican coffee. Check out the site here. You can also watch this Marley Coffee Youtube feature by the Marley's on why their interest in coffee. Pretty strategic marketing, it is what it is. Anyway, the good news is that this is not only available to the big guys and folks with money, you can do it too. You can explore licensing options, but be mindful that it will take some work and some creativity. Ultimately, your options will depend on what you take to the table and what your expectations are from a licensing program. Here's a link to Hilco Consumer Capital, the guys the Marleys signed an agreement with. Talk back if you want, I'd like to hear your thoughts.
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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Music and Brand Partnerships

We in Jamaica have a saying, "good fren better dan pocket money", which essentially speaks to the benefits of a network. Translated to standard English one could say, "having a good friend is always better that having cash". I say this to thank my good friend and partner in the entertainment blogosphere, Simone Harris, for bringing my attention to this article "Brands should be wired into music discovery". Have a read, it ties in nicely with some of my points in my earlier Entertainment and Advertising post.

The article speaks to the music business, and encourages partnerships that seamlessly integrate music and the corporate brands. The examples in the article are not traditionally Caribbean brands but you'll get the picture. If you are part of a team that manages a Jamaican/Caribbean music act it might be worth your while to think of what some useful alliances might be. The same is true if you are a corporate brand manager.

It is because of opportunities like this that I have become such a believer in licensing for our Caribbean properties. And I think this can be done without selling out. As an example, this is what the Marley's have done. However, that will have to be the subject of another blog.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Not To Me - A Jamaican Film

This is a repost from MTV's Staying Alive website. I take no credit for the contents except that I want to share the message.

"Set to creatively entertain and educate, this 1-hour film features real-life stories highlighting sexual and social issues appealing to the youth with great dialogues, amazing soundtracks and visually appealing images.

Shot by renowned music video director, Ras Kassa (Welcome to Jamrock – Damien Marley) and featuring music by world-acclaimed Caribbean artists (Shabba Ranks/Mr Vegas /Yellow man/Lady Saw), “NOT TO ME” is a powerful and passionate story about young people trying to find their way through life and realising the consequences of their actions.

The backdrop of the series sets around Pasa-Pasa in Jamaica. The story touches on young men and women from different societal backgrounds, addresses cultural and sexual barriers between young men and women and drives home some truths and realities about contracting HIV."

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Jamaican Documentary Up for Award

I read where the Jamaica Gleaner published a story about a local documentary that is up for an award at the American Black Film Festival June 24-27 in Miami, Florida.

The 61-min documentary titled, "Why Jamaicans Run So Fast?", was directed by Fernando Garcia-Guereta, who lives in Portland, Jamaica. The documentary captures the excitement that surrounded the return to Jamaica of three-time Olympic gold medalist, Usain Bolt. A segment of the intro is below.

This production is welcome. I therefore take the opportunity to share with my readers a panel discussion audio feed I had shared with some members of the International Film Society, at Full Sail University. The panel was titled "How Filmmakers Are Building Fan Bases". The Panel was organized and chaired by veteran writer and blogger Scott Kirsner, to whose CinemaTech blog I've been subscribed since around July 2007. The discussion took place at the Independent Film Festival of Boston on April 26, 2009. There were some very influential folks in attendance and you can read Scott Kirsner's original post to see who they were.

To borrow from Scott's blog some of the areas covered are:
- Benefits and pitfalls of social networking (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.)
- Strategies for reaching audiences before, during and after production
- Crowdsourcing to build audiences as well as help production
- How much of your content to post online for free
- Ad revenue models
- Distribution formats (DVD, download, streaming, theatrical, etc.)
- Applying all the above to other media such as music and art

"I also recall that we talked a bit about the pendulum shift that is happening with regard to building a fan base for your work. In the old days, when you had a movie distributor or a record label behind you, you spent maybe 10 percent of your time on promotion and marketing tasks (like doing interviews with the media), and 90 percent of your time actually creating. I think the pendulum is swinging, toward a world where success is going to require more of a 40/60 split between audience-building and creating. That's not necessarily bad news, since audience-building can feed your art, and in fact be an art form unto itself. Just think about how much people like Andy Warhol, Frank Lloyd Wright, and John Waters all seem(ed) to enjoy promoting their work..."

This should be some good perspective. I leave with you the audio feed (downloadable MP3 available) from the panel discussion in the hope that it can help an upcoming filmmaker from Jamaica, or the wider Caribbean, find his/her way. When all is said and done, it is patently obvious that there is no magic formula, just wise and hard work. Listen in and I hope you find it useful.

Feel free to share your thoughts or pass on the link.

Give thanks!

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