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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Monday, June 15, 2009

Night of the Indigo

There is print publishing, and there is game/digital publishing, and both areas do bring their fair share of excitement. In this case, I'm focused on the efforts to promote the 2009 release of the Caribbean fiction novel Night of the Indigo by Michael Holgate. Here's Holgate's blog.

The book is tagged as a Sci-Fi/Fantasy by Book Screening and you can see a full summary of the story here. You can watch the book trailer below.

What excites me is that we are taking advantage of the new ways to promote a Jamaican novel.

If you want to talk about a writer as co-marketer of his work, then Holgate leaves no doubt as he even appears in his own trailer. I like that the publisher, Macmillan Caribbean, has given the book its own web page and this trailer has been produced. For sure, this will introduce the story to a whole other group of prospective readers. This begs a question though, are we likely to see a film? This is certainly another way to take advantage of this bit of creativity. The question should be how else can we share this story with the world, and this should include a full examination of what might be the feasible product extensions? The publisher has classified it as a Children's Story book, so is there any possibility that a coloring book aimed at a younger age group could be created? Do any of the characters lend themselves to life as a stuffed toy? This would certainly be more culturally appropriate than some of what we consume now. If fans emerge out of this publication, then the writer should consider that he has an obligation to keep them satisfied. This will happen only if he uses the channels available to maintain that relationship (and that includes some of what I've mentioned). I'm just saying... I haven't read the book to know its appeal.

If the product lends itself to extensions, then the intellectual property rights holder has the option of producing these himself or pursue licensing deals. The latter would be a less capital intensive option and allows wider international reach if managed properly. My point is, Holgate has started and is in a good position to move forward comfortably.

My hope is that in the future we can ensure that more of these successes are not just flashes in the pan, but are more sustainable. I'm of the opinion that this route is a far more effective means of "preserving, showcasing and developing" our Caribbean culture.

Finally, here are a few resources if you are interested in self-publishing:

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Entertainment and Advertising: Are You Talking to Each Other?

I had the chance to read Madison & Vine: Why the Entertainment & Advertising Industries Must Converge to Survive by Scott Donaton. The book has been around for a while (2004), so the thesis as the book title captures is not new, but I was just being introduced to it.

I must admit that he makes a strong argument for the alliance of both industries particularly because of the proliferation of new media platforms, the fact that the power of the consumer to bypass advertising is increasing, the increased competition for the attention of the target consumer, the shortened attention span of consumers, and last, and certainly not least is that corporate budgets are many times over able to afford the production of entertainment content, which is great news for those passionate creatives.

My question then is, how do we take advantage of these developments from our spaces in the Caribbean? I'm sure the folks from Frame by Frame and Cinecom can tell me something about how this has worked in Jamaica and where we need to go. There is no doubt though that from what I have seen there is still a lot of ground to cover in terms of making consumers seek out (pull) "advertisement" rather that having it be pushed at them. Donaton's classic example, which is the most cited example by many writers, is BMW's 8-mini films done in 2001-2002. (I must admit that through the viral spread I had seen some of these videos then, but never quite understood the business behind it then as I do now.)

Of its US$15m budget BMW spent 90% on production and 10% on promotion, a complete reverse of the advertising budget formula. In return, BMW had what turned out to be its most successful campaign up to that point, increasing sales 12.5% in the first year and beating this performance in 2002 and 2003.

The artist Sting and Jaguar had another very successful creative alliance. This was not the first music and business alliance, but its considered a seminal moment where the partnerships moved from mere corporate sponsorships, or an advertiser licensing the use of an artist's song for a commercial. This was because the approach from the start was that Jaguar would be promoting Sting's new album while he promotes their cars - a win win for all concerned.

Its about brand integration (not merely product placement, or brand-sponsored programming) and using the media that your audience use, and sad to say its shifting from the TV set and broadcast radio to platforms like the computer/Internet, gaming and mobile devices. How then are we engaging, both as corporations and creatives?

I'd like to hear from you.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Jamaica's Cultural Vision As Stated in Policy

I was involved in the development of the Jamaican culture policy back in 2002-03. I'm proud to say it is a very ambitious document, at least one Dutch organization, The Power of Culture, agrees. Notwithstanding, significant progress towards achieving those ambitions is not visible. What should we be seeing now?

We should have been seeing significantly increased earnings from the arts, from media, from music and even some buzz about our tourism earnings. An April 4, 2009 speech by the current minister that has responsibility, laments among other things the poor market penetration. There is much talk about the European Partnership Agreement (EPA), which I do not disagree with in principle, but I can't help but think that when the rubber hits the road it will not be successful unless you have some significant hand holding. Having access is one thing, but how does an actual business person get their product to market? What are the step-by-step things that they must do? These are the little (big) details of running a business operation that we don't have sorted out - the how to, if you will. How do I negotiate a distribution deal? How do I package my product for the new market? Do I need to do it myself or do I need to seek a licensee?

It seems to me the vision threatens to overwhelm if Jamaica doesn't quickly find focus.

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Ten Commandments from Entrepreneurial 'Evangelist' Guy Kawasaki

As I am seeking to make sense of the rapidly changing business environment, I paused to read my most recent update from Knowledge at Wharton. This has been a good source of business information for me, and I recommend signing up for a subscription if you're interested in business. The subject of their articles are varied, and often times you can find something that applies to the entertainment or culture sectors. Today, I read a very interesting piece on Guy Kawasaki's "Ten Commandments". Now, I know you're probably tired of lists, I know I am, but I have to admit that they often have some value. Check it out.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Reflecting on the 2009 Licensing Expo

So the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas in over. Micheal Stone, the CEO of licensing giant The Beanstalk Group gave some reflections on what he thought was missing. See the full article in Ad Age here.

In essence, there was no major representation for any celebrity deals, no internet/high tech properties, no major publishing, apparel or luxury properties, an absence of any 2010-11 studio deals and no green initiatives being touted. These are signs of the hard economic times he suggests, but he gives us cause for hope. 

We in our little tropical paradise, need to begin to position ourselves to take advantage of these opportunities when the times change. After all, it will get better.