The second-biggest post on this blog last year was titled “When Rupert Murdoch Tells You Where The Money Is, Believe Him.” When someone as successful as Murdoch points the way to where entertainment success will be found in the future (hint: content is king; distribution is a commodity), we wisely pay attention.
Here’s another opportunity to learn by observing, and this time, let’s take a look at what some of the most successful talent in showbiz is up to.
Meet Whalerock Industries. (Okay, it’s the former BermanBraun, so you may well have already met.) Whalerock matters to us today because they’re preparing to roll out “media hubs” for celebrities.
Translation: if you’re a big name – say Howard Stern or the Kardashians – Whalerock wants to build you a web presence (customized to the unique characteristics of the talent in question), complete with mobile apps – that will offer a blend of free and non-free premium content, starting with a package built around Tyler, The Creator that launches in June.
Among the more interesting things to me is this tidbit: the Kardashians just did that monster re-up deal with E! They’re not walking away from “traditional” media. This is just another piece of their rather ample money-making puzzle, and it looks like their presence will include some clever talent-specific ideas, along with the typical photos and videos, such as city guides — chock-full of information about where Kim ate and slept — and makeup lessons.
I know plenty of people who’ll roll their eyes at all this. Roll away, friends. We’re talking about a personality who has such a tight bond with her audience that she put out a video game app that disappointed some analysts because it “only” earned $43 million in three months last year. What would you do if you had a bond with your audience so powerful that they’d (1) spend money on a smartphone app that lets them pretend to live your lifestyle and (2) want to know where you ate and slept so they could do likewise?
Okay, so what does this mean to you, the non-Kardashian? As we regularly discuss, if you want to know where money will be in the future, look where the people who already have lots of money are going. When you look closely, you’ll notice that Glenn Beck left Big TV for the land of streaming and he earned more money in 2014 than Jay-Z. Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift. Not bad for an old radio morning zookeeper who once worked with Zippy The Chimp. (And really, if you get nothing else out of this post, you’ve absolutely got to click that last link.)
It’s become a tradition in these parts to point out – ad nauseam – the many different ways that creatives are creating successful and (presumably) fulfilling niches in The Jetsons Future. While you may not be looking at an eight- or nine-figure income this year, there are a few obvious things to never forget:
- Developing a relationship with your audience is Job One in The Jetsons Future. Everything else you do will be built on the foundation of that relationship, so make it a rock solid one. Oh, and don’t waste your time doing things that don’t build that relationship!
- The old middleman – traditional broadcast media – still has a ton of value, but opportunities to deepen your relationship with your audience will be found via the new middleman – broadband delivery. Looking for ways to build your presence online is Job Two in The Jetsons Future.
- In doing that, think about the unique characteristics on which that relationship is built. Then look for ways to exploit them. Because Kim Kardashian West’s audience connection is built on the totality of her lifestyle, she can, should, and does look to share its many components with them. (Again, city guides? Really? How long do you think it will be before she starts monetizing her “recommendations”?)
Side note: in doing this stuff, remember to think different.
You may not be making megabucks, but if you’re an entertainer, you’re skilled at building a relationship with an audience. You now have the opportunity to let that relationship serve you well.