Friday, December 19, 2008

Corsairs, Ho!

In my last post, Jon Molly commented that:

" Your comment regarding moving content from one media to another deserves more than being buried in a footnote. I wonder if finding ways to spread content out over a variety isn't just as much a valid defense against piracy. Any version that gets pirated just winds up serving as a commercial for the other media."

Fair enough then, because he's right, and it addresses a concern Mike Curtis has regarding piracy in his rant. So here's the situation kids:

There are always going to be pirates. Period. End of story.

The trick is to turn the pirates into corsairs.

Here's one way.

And there are several others to be sure. The point is to turn the pirates to your side, and make sure that while they are getting the word out on your film, you are utilizing that P2P distribution / promotion machine to sell not only your movie on DVD, but the behind-the-scenes book, your ability to come to groups to speak about your movie for a small fee, the DVD which is loaded with extras and yes, the t-shirt.

The following is going to surprise some of you but here it is:

The movie you make is not what makes you money.
It's all the other stuff tied to it that puts you into profit.

That includes advertising, merchandising, IP licensing and subsequent media. Studios today DON'T make money off their theatrical releases - those are just advertising for the DVD and other revenue streams. Why do you think Hollywood is so in love with superhero movies right now? Do they LOVE the material? The development executives do to be sure - they grew up with comics. BUT it's the top tier guys who understand they CAN SELL A LOT OF STUFF tied to that superhero(or horror or scifi or action) movie.

So why not do it for yourself?

P2P allows you the opportunity to sell ads on your movie as it streams or downloads. Hulu has a great thing going with their ad streams
because they have been classed as "unobtrusive" by the industry and consumers. So why not take that as your mantra and apply it to your media?

Why not shop for ad partners to finance your film? It's the same model that local indie television producers have been using for years. I've done Holiday parade shows, car racing shows, local football shows AND THEN gone out and contracted the advertisers so we could make a profit after we bought the airtime from the local station.

So why not do that on the internet? The more viewers/down loaders the more the advertisers pay. Turn piracy around to work for you.

But Bill, you are condoning piracy!

No, I am turning a negative around to work for me instead of against me. I am making those pirates my marketing staff and I'm taking the tools, nay the weapons that technology has given me. It's not a new way of thinking guys. It's a way of turning the tide of the war.

But back to Jon's comment: Yes, placing your content across a variety of media IS advertising, and making it easily, conveniently available to your audience is one of the best ways to "combat" piracy. After all, why steal it when you can get the cooler version from your "local" website?

Piracy exists when people can't get goods and services through normal channels. Expand your channels and allow people to pay for your media. Use the pirates for what they are good for - distribution of content to promote your work. Use the free weapons to help you sell other goods and services you can make the real money on.

Ask yourself, "WWJWD (What would Joss Whedon Do)?

Corsairs Ho!


Christopher Sharpe said...

Another great post, Bill. I have been thinking about this a lot lately and definitely am in agreement.

If you know how to do it - and it's very easy - you can illegally download a high quality movie faster than going to the video store. And the store in question may not even have the movie that you're looking for.

The fact that piracy is EASIER than getting a movie in a traditional way speaks volumes to the problem. Not only do we have to figure out a way to take advantage of the piracy - we have to figure out even EASIER ways for people to give us money for the content we're creating.

Roger Alford said...

Agreed. Now if I could just have more than 24-hours to watch a movie I rent via Amazon (via my TiVo) or iTunes and connect my iPod without buying a $50 proprietary cable from Apple, then I'd be a REALLY happy customer. The walls are coming down, though, so they just need to quit putting more up as we make the transition.