In last week’s episode we talked with Elizabeth Hyde Stevens (or just Liz) the author of the book Make Art Make Money - Lessons from Jim Henson on fuelling your creative career. The book talks about Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets, and his ability to balance making money with making art. How he did it was through licensing the Muppet characters to make toys. Each toy sold earned him a royalty. This afforded him the financial freedom to not have to work for, or with, people that didn’t serve his art.
The interview before that was with Matt Ruby creator of the video comic strip lampooning technology startups at Vooza.com. In this conversation we talk about how his native advertising model came from a desire to make art but find a way to fund the project. Matt and his team of comedian’s create sketches about what it’s like inside the startup community. Inside that sketch will be a short message about a product or service that has paid for a spot in front of Vooza’s audience. You can see an example at Vooza.com and look for videos with [Sponsored] in the title.
So, Who’ll Build it? Jim Henson. Who’ll Buy it? Parent who want great toys for their kids who like the muppets. Who’ll finance it? Not Jim Henson. Just because Jim Henson had a bunch of money in his bank account and didn’t have to work with people or for projects he didn’t want to work on (like his early work in commercials) didn’t mean he just spent all his money on projects. Who’ll finance it? In the case of the Muppet Show it was Lord LewGrade. In the case of Sesame Street it was The Children’s Television Workshop.
Who’ll Build it? Liz Stevens. Who’ll Buy it? Artists and creatives who are interested making money from their art and know the work of Jim Henson. Who’ll Finance It? Lake Union Publishing.
Who’ll Build It? Matt Ruby. Who’ll Finance it? Advertisers who have a product Vooza’s audience will enjoy. Who’ll buy it? Well, no one really the show is free you just go and watch it. But just because they aren’t paying with money doesn’t mean they aren’t paying for it. They are using the most valuable currency today, their attention. That’s why the internet is often referred to as an attention economy.
Who’ll build it? I will. Who’ll Finance it? I will. Who’ll buy it? People who like my songs or kids books. See where my plan is falling down a little? Although I’ve been writing songs and stories and performing as a creative outlet for over 20 years I’m really only couple years into the making and selling game. I've basically just been doing my kids’ books, kids’ Music and EP of songs about wanderlust and love-soaked heartache as a hobby and so I have been funding it all buy myself. Saving up money from my UX work and sales of my products.
Now, if I want to really step up my game I need to fill out my three parts. The answer to who’ll build it will always be me. Whether I’m actually doing it hands on or acting as a director while someone else does the work. Just like Jim Henson didn’t build and perform all the Muppets. The question about Buying is a little harder because Obviously I’m going to have the support of my friends and family and people who have previously bought my stuff but growing the audience is the challenge. Kid’s stuff isn’t going to be sold to kids it’s going to be sold to parents and grandparents. I just have to figure out how to reach them and what kind of stuff they want to give their kids. Now we get to the hardest question Who’ll Finance it? It could be the audience if I did a crowdfunding campaign like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. It could be a partnership with an indie record label or children’s book publisher. This will be very different for me is because I’m not selling my product to an audience I’m pitching a project to a partner. New skills indeed.
Here’s where you get to do some thinking
- What is it you want to do? Write? Paint? Act?
- Who will pay to see you do that?
- What kind of project can you fund on your own?
- Is that enough for you?
- Is it enough to have a project completed?
- Is it enough to have the project pay for itself and make your audience happy?
- Or, do you have business ambitions?
- Do you want to live off your creative work?
- Or do you just need enough to pay for the house each month?
- Who’ll Build it?
- Who’ll Buy it?
- Who’ll Finance it?
Do you know anyone who is struggling with one or more of these parts? It would be great if you could share this episode with them. The easiest way is to send them the link TheSparkAndTheArt.com/45 hopefully it will help them out and you’ll look like a hero.
Did you disagree with anything in today’s episode? I’d love to hear about it. Find me on twitter @SH_Tucker