Pathway to Fame and Fortune Begins Online

26Mar09

These days the pathway to fame and fortune begins online, and your fans are your financiers.  Stop shopping your script old school!  No better way to lollygag in a down economy than to create a killer franchise.  So this one’s for you my friends, the animator, screenwriter, and big personality…it’s never been easier to create your masterpiece and sell it to your fans.  To get in the game simply follow the 22/22/2 rule, make it funny, put it up, talk to your fans, and sell them tees…

So you ask, what is the 22/22/2 rule?
I made that up 🙂  but it is the minimum pitch you’ll want to approach any video site with:  20-22 episodes, 22 minutes each to serve up on long form platforms, divisible into 2-4 minute segments to run on short form platforms with 15s preroll.  Then create an outrageously funny 30 second clip of it to get on Funny or Die and StupidVideos.

What’s selling right now?
Funny is selling big to the M 18-34 gamer/geeker humor and niche…it’s also smart to story around product categories advertised online.

Secrets to making it viral…
Who knows but you have to be superfast to capture attention… Make it timely with a laugh out loud title and thumbnail.  Simple story arc, three act structure, begin with chase, end with question.  Leverage brands whenever possible.

Put it up…like now!

I.  Amazon
Yup, you could be selling on Amazon next to big titles in minutes, and have a pathway into the living room via AVOD via TiVo and XBLA. Not sure why Amazon’s CreateSpace is the best kept secret in the industry but it is how you’re going to make your money.  They publish books, CDs, and DVDs on demand and send shorts 20m+ to AVOD.  Have your friends, family and fans post five star reviews the moment the site goes up and in the body of the review have them liken your work to a current bestseller and voila! you’re on your way to being optimized in Amazon’s recommendations engine.

II.  Blip.tv, Metacafe, Revver, imeem, Atom, Crackle
You can also make money on Blip.tv, Metacafe, Revver and Atom with a certain number of views and ratings.  Keep in mind, noone is getting rich off of CPM, mostly you can expect a penny per play, compare that to split on a $1.99 download where a content producer might walk away with a $1 per download. But Atom is owned by Viacom and has its own AtomTV Monday nights at 2am on Comedy Central and relationships with V Cast, etc. so if you’re stuff is awesome and you get voted to the top, you could land a non-exclusive rev-share deal or buyout.  Crackle, owned by Sony, will also buy the good stuff and acquire talent for its original programming via contests, with the grand prize being a pitch meeting with Sony executives.

III.  iTunes, Netflix, Hulu 
Yes, it’s true, for iTunes you do need to go through an approved distributor.  They have been villified for this process but Apple does this for good reason.  There’s a whole ingestion role that the approved distributor serves and even this approved distributor has to go to 3rd party before Apple can start its QC to see if the title is a fit. If you have a top talent like Mark Ruffalo and its a great film, they’ll want it but plan no later than September to submit it to get it on for Thanksgiving.  Everyone rushes their titles on for the biggest download buying time, the holidays, which starts before Thanksgiving.  And you will also want to want to window.  First pay download for the holidays, then subscription and free streaming rev-share around Valentine’s Day.  The great news is that these approved distributors all have relationships with Netflix and Hulu, which not only is the premier destination for premium content it’s also the largest and most respected syndicator sending its player out to 60+ structured partners including AOL, Blinkx, Break, Cinemanow, Cooliris, DailyMotion, Fancast, Flixster, Glam, Metacafe, MSN, Movielink, MySpace, Sling, TVGuide, Yahoo!….  These distributors also have relationships with Joost, Veoh, TV.com, Jaman, B-Side, Sezmi, Vudu, soon XBLA, ZillionTV, and can be very creative in monetizing the properties via soundtracks and mobile wallpaper.  Great you say, who are these majestic people and how can I meet them?  Well, therein lies the rub.  They’re very busy culling through referrals from Apple etc and have limited bandwidth.  So you need to be vetted by someone who knows them or try www.indieflix.com who will pitch award winners or festival selections.  Luckily it’s easy these days to secure festival credentials via Amazon’s  Withoutabox who for one fee and application submits your film to as many festivals as you like.  How cool is that! Withoutabox will also submit your work to Amazon’s IMDb for bonus promotion.  All this said, even a million views is not going to result in much money.  Even with a $45CPM+ on the premium sites, after everyone’s take you might wind up with less than $2,000.  Netflix with its lump sum buyout per term is usually the next best payout after iTunes but a Hulu deal gives vast exposure and legitimacy and should be as aggressively sought after as iTunes and Netflix.

IV.  $$$ YouTube, MySpace, DailyMotion, Break….
You can monetize your content on YouTube as well as the other UGC sites (DailyMotion, Metacafe..) but your stuff has to be high production value with brand, talent and/or strong following that advertisers are targeting, and you need to be in the know to pitch that business development executive and secure a content partner agreement.  For YouTube specifically, you need to have original videos suitable for online streaming, express permission to use and monetize all av uploaded, and you regularly upload videos that are viewed by thousands of YouTube users.  If you meet that criteria, you can get started now by clicking here.  So build your network and use the UGC platforms to aggregate your fan base.  Tubemogul can consolidate your uploads and provides detailed analytics on what is being watched where.

V.  Soundtrack too 
It’s actually very easy to get your soundtrack on iTunes, and sell into the long tail via Tunecore, IODA, CDBaby, Napster, eMusic, and Annie’s List.  And Pandora will take over the transom submissions and index your soundtrack to play along like artists and link to your iTunes and Amazon shopping carts.   Imeem pays revshare and also slipstreams indies into playlists of like artists.  So when creating your soundtrack keep in mind that if it sounds like Radiohead, it might play alongside Radiohead and in turn have a shot at acquiring their fans.

Fans are Financiers, Love Them!!
Your fans can make or break you, and all they want is some engagement, some interaction.   At minimum, create an email list, let them know where you’re screening, invite them to the parties, deliver them brand experiences, and set up a blog so they can post their comments.  Twitter is a must and Facebook (MySpace for the soundtrack) but very time intensive if you’re not into it.  Enlist a dedicated fan to help you keep it up.  Bring them onto your team.  Give them credit as an officer on your Facebook fan page.   For your other fans, post clips of the videos on YouTube without soundtrack and invite them to mash it up giving prizes to the one with the most views like a cameo in one of the videos.  Then create cool merchandise on CafePress or Zazzle and invite them to buy it to fund your work.  You will make more money selling tees than selling the content.  The content builds the brand, and your dedicated fans will evangelize the brand and pay for the brand experience.  Cultivating loyalty is very important and extremely satisfying to your audience.  Give them trivia.  Ask their opinions and advice.  Make them part of your journey.  Love them and you will be richly rewarded.

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2 Responses to “Pathway to Fame and Fortune Begins Online”

  1. 1 matt

    This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

  2. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more articles from you in the future.

    – Jack


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