Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Technology & The Jesus Film

Today, I delve into the film industry. The year 2013 saw the discontinuation of Motion Picture Film Production by the bigwig Fujifilm

The growth in technology did not only hit the music industry. Just as the cassette tapes and CDs were overthrown by digital music downloads and streaming, the film was replaced by digital media solutions. 

It is a scary thought to know that the new generation has no idea what a cassette is and what a film negative looks like.

Recently, I got the chance to take a tour of the Jesus Film Project at the CRU offices in Lake Hart, Florida. 

I found this fascinating because I remember as a child watching the Jesus Film on what seemed like the biggest projector while sitting in a grass field. 

I remember looking at the film projector wheels turning and thinking, 

“Wow! That’s some advanced equipment, this must be a really important film!”

As they walked us through the translation process and explained why it is necessary to use the old equipment for some areas, I couldn’t help but wonder what the future of those showings was. 

Well, the team now utilizes a much smaller case that includes a pocket projector and other digital media equipment in some of the advanced areas but maintain the old equipment and films for the more rural areas around the world.

As a souvenir, the team gives out a bookmark at the end of the tour with a piece of the film negative. 

It may not seem like it now, but how rare will it be to come across film negative perhaps in 30 years to come?

The Jesus Film is based on the Gospel of Luke and has to date been dubbed into 1200 languages. 

It holds the Guinness World Record title for the Most Translated Film in History. 

Released 35 years ago, it has now been remastered in High Definition with a complete new musical score in Dolby 5.1 surround sound.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Creating a Compelling Business Plan

Every business plan, be it in the entertainment industry, technology or even farming, should follow the same model to yield any positive results. In this post, I cross over to business gurus in other fields for advice on how to create a compelling document. 

Jason Nazar
Jason Nazar is the Co-founder and CEO of, an online resource for small businesses that hosts professional documents and other productivity tools. He is also the creator of Startups Uncensored, a technology conference in California that brings together investors, techies and entrepreneurs. In this lecture, Nazar explains the importance of a business plan and how to effectively use one. A business plan should help you:
  •      Raise money
  •      Find partners
  •      Get others interested in your idea

According to this Internet business guru, every business plan should address these ten questions to be successful in achieving one of the purposes above.
  1. In a very simple way, explain what is the product or service so that even a 5th grader can understand it. One should be able to get the concept in 30 seconds or less.
  2. Explain what is unique about the business and what makes it better than the others that provide the same service.
  3.  Show that there is a market opportunity. For venture capitalists mostly, it is important to show whether there is a big market, how fast it is growing and how much money is spent in the market as well as who your competition is.
  4. Explain how you make money in simple terms. For example, is it a subscription service, one-off sales or supported by ads.
  5. Describe what the long-term vision or strategy for the business is as well as the milestones and key metrics for this time.
  6. You should be able to demonstrate how you will sell or market your product.
  7. The amount of capital you need to raise to reach profitability or to prove the metrics that will raise you more money for a liquidity business. 
  8. Include your management team in your plan and show why your background and skills exclusively qualifies you to start the business.
  9. Projected financials for 3 years.
  10. Preliminary valuation of your company. The market valuation of your new business/idea is simply what people are willing to pay for it. 
Del Foit is an entrepreneur and an award winning business school instructor at the Rady School of Management, UC San Diego. He has over 30 years of experience in medical diagnostics and biotechnology. 
During this presentation, Foit explains what a good business plan should consist of. I found it especially interesting when he discussed the 4 anchors of superior business opportunities. Your business should be:

Del Foit
  •       Creating or adding value to the customer or end user.
  •        Solve a problem for which someone is willing to pay a premium.
  •       Robust market, margin and moneymaking features. He recommends a market that is large enough ($50 million+), high growth (20 percent+), high margin (40 percent +), early free cash flow, high profit potential and attractive realizable returns for investors.
  •       A good fit with the founders and management team at the time and marketplace and with the risk reward balance. 

It is very interesting to see that experts emphasize on having a simple plan that is easy to understand. Gone are the days when the business plan had to be over 40 pages explaining every single complex detail of the business.
These gentlemen also urge one to consider the risk and come up with risk mitigation strategies, which assure the investors that you know your market and opportunity really well.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Music & Football

Being from a different country, I have been an eager student on the American ways. During the FIFA World Cup 2014 series, I cannot mention the countless conversations I had about football (soccer, as the Americans insist on calling it!) and American football. I enjoy both very much but I must say, the pomp and circumstance that goes into one of these American football games is quite remarkable.  
I went to my very first American football game between Georgia Southern University and Savannah State University on Saturday 6th September 2014.
For many, the game was their ultimate point of focus, but being a music enthusiast, it would only make sense that I was as equally entertained by the musicianship displayed. The World Cup series put on an engaging ceremony during the opening day to which I was glued, but that was the end of that and the disconnect is quite apparent.

Besides the whole excitement of tailgating, southern cooking and the actual game, my attention was entirely drawn to the marching bands. It was so interesting to see the relationship between music and sports in such a captivating fashion. To think that all the football games have these elaborate productions however is incredible. 

This certainly peaked my interest to try and understand how it became such an important part of the football games. Marching bands evolved from military bands, and as they became less important in the armies, they became more ceremonial. Bands were integrated into American football since before the twentieth century. They are a big part of the pregame and halftime shows. The first formation was of the block ‘P’ in 1907 created by Paul Spotts, director of the Purdue All-American Marching Band. The first halftime show was in the same year by the University of Illinois Marching Illini.
Picture from personal collection

This Saturday however, it was definitely a highlight when the Southern Pride Marching Band and the Coastal Empire Sound Explosion (C.E.S.E) from Savannah State University performed a joint piece during the halftime show in honor of the Military Appreciation Day.

The Southern Pride Marching Band was formed in 1983 and has over a hundred members with some of their music recordings available on Soundcloud.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The World of Social Media Marketing

In the past three weeks, I have had the pleasure to sit in on a few Product and Artist Management classes, which the professor jestingly refers to as the mini SXSW. It has been remarkable having distinguished professionals in the entertainment business share their experiences, expertise and honestly, taking the time off to talk to young up-and-comers such as ourselves. It was especially an honor meeting and listening to the senior VP Southeast House of Blues and the International Marketing Coordinator, Sony Music Entertainment. Because of my interest in artist management and live events, these two encounters were very helpful in creating and shaping business strategies for my clients.

Another influential guest speaker, Greg Jackson, a Social Media Community Manager at Walt Disney World provided food for thought for this article. It is clear that social media marketing has become one of the most popular avenues for corporations and famous entities to reach their fans/customers in the hope of gaining new clientele. What was once a way of friends finding friends, sharing views and homemade videos and making plans has become a strategic marketing tool in today’s business generation.

According to Greg, there are three ways of ensuring your social media marketing works for you and not against you. First, is ensuring that you are relevant to the platform. The smartest way to think about this is to be aware of your market and the demographics on each of the sites. For example, what might work well on Facebook may not be received as well on Pinterest. No one would be delighted that his or her posts are seen as an intrusion of privacy. However, this calls for subtle marketing tactics.

Secondly, ensure you are relevant to the brand and audience. Any information that you put in the public domain has to draw the viewer back to your brand and what it stands for. Walt Disney World is known as ‘the happiest place on earth’ and every post on each platform should be able to reflect back to that brand positioning.

Lastly, you should be able to take risks. Social marketing today is as a result of an unintended side effect of the global acceptance of the Internet as a marketing tool. Forward Internet Group, a UK-based technology company, taught its staff to work on projects that usually started based on the management team’s hunch on the market’s direction. They literally made stuff up as they went and this is a great example of taking business risk on the World Wide Web. If the first two are on point, the risk will almost always pay off.

As easy as it may seem to create social media content for artists with the aim of pushing sales and converting audiences into diehard fans, without intruding on their cyberspace, it is always a calculated risk what the reception would be. Therefore, understanding your brand, audience and brand positioning and remaining relevant to those will ensure a successful social media presence.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Live Entertainment Legal Liabilities

NJ Concertgoers v. Live Nation
Live Nation, the country’s largest live entertainment company faced a class action suit that is potentially going to lose the business millions of dollars in revenue. In 2009, the company was sued for padding ticket prices with an additional parking fee of $6 regardless of whether the ticket holder intended to park at the venue or not. Live Nation argued that the fee was set as a way to alleviate traffic backups. On March 28, 2014, the court approved the settlement. The two men who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the other concertgoers each received $7,500 and the company was ordered to pay $1.7 million in attorney fees. An estimated 363,000 people who purchased their tickets online and attended concerts at the PNC Bank Arts Centre from June 2003 to June 2011, are set to benefit from the settlement. This entitles them to three free lawn seat tickets over a period of four years and a $5 discount on future purchases. The tickets are estimated at $33.25 each. It would cost Live Nation well over $38 million in revenue if all the members of the class applied and received their share of the settlement deal. By the time of approval, only 10% of the members had applied. It is my opinion that the settlement was fair more so for Live Nation, all circumstances considered. However, considering the period over which the lawsuit addressed, the facts of the case, for example member attendance over the seven years would have been important in determining more accurate settlement details.

Sugarland Trial
In 2012, Hellen Rollens, Sugarland’s tour manager was investigated over the stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair that left seven people dead and more injured. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Rollens had been made aware of the severe weather conditions and instead went ahead to confirm the performance as scheduled. Rollens is reported to have called a prayer circle minutes before the stage collapsed therefore saving the lives of the band members and crew. According to the plaintiff’s attorney, the performers had the final say on whether to cancel the show due to the weather conditions. Sugarland was named alongside the producers, stage riggers and the Indiana State Fair Commission (ISFC) among others. In December 2011, the state of Indiana settled their lawsuit with 63 of the 65 victims who held the state liable. Two years after the tragedy, the company that insured the band’s musical equipment filed a new lawsuit. After extensive depositions, the trial date was set for February 2014 and Jeniffer Nettles and Kristian Bush of Sugarland still denied any responsibility for the incident. According to their attorney, the band was not made aware of the option to delay the show and should not have been held accountable for not refusing to perform. As per the ISFC’s emergency management plan and the artists’ contract, the commission had sole responsibility for alerting individuals and postponing, evacuating or cancelling an event. In light of these documents, Sugarland should not be held liable for the incident.

BMI sues Bar for $1.5M
A cover band performance at “69 Taps at Medina”, a bar in Cleveland has led to the lawsuit in which Broadcast Music, Inc. is seeking a $1.5M in damages. BMI alleged willful copyright infringement for each work, listing ten songs that were performed by the band. In addition, BMI requested an injunction that barred the establishment from playing live music. Nine other music companies that own the musical composition copyrights joined the suit. A license from BMI would provide an establishment such as this legal permission to perform over 8.5 million works that they hold the rights to.
Since BMI maintains that they reached out severally to try and license the business, I believe 69 Taps at Medina had the opportunity to avoid the lawsuit and failed to take it.

As a precaution in my business, I would ensure I had the required documents including contracts and licenses and seek legal advice to avoid such legal ramifications. In addition to this it is important to be well versed with the laws and regulations of the states of proposed venues.