My Secret to Success

I have a secret. This secret drives everything I do and it is what led me from working an 8 to 5 job to owning a media company. I’m going to share that secret with you right now.

I don’t ask anyone’s permission.
I deal with negotiated business contacts all the time. Of course I have to get an actor’s permission to use her name and likeness or a property owner’s permission to shoot on her property. That’s not what I’m talking about.

Here’s what I mean. I don’t ask anyone’s permission to put together a project and I don’t ask anyone’s permission to be successful.

Tackling Projects

Most people I know ask permission all their lives and it limits their success. If he wants a job, he asks permission by applying and interviewing. If she wants to be an author, she tries to pitch story ideas to a publisher. If they want to become recording artists, they seek the attention of a record company.

I don’t do any of that.

When I was fourteen years old, I had a burning passion to learn guitar. My parents were afraid I wouldn’t practice, so they refused to pay for private lessons. I took class lessons at a community center with about thirty other people. I practiced so hard on a $5, garage sale guitar that made my fingers bleed that my father spent money on a good guitar before the class was finished.

September of this year marks my 36th anniversary as a musician. My teaching schedule is almost totally full, teaching at my own studio and another one in Houston. My own business of teaching in my town was started because someone else didn’t hire me. I am now competing successfully against two teaching studios that didn’t give me permission to work for them. I didn’t ask their permission to succeed and I employ other teachers from time to time, providing art and music lessons to our community.

I fell in love with working in the recording studio years ago. I didn’t ask permission to become a recording artist. I just saved my money, wrote the songs, recorded an album and sold it. I didn’t ask anyone’s permission to own a recording studio. I took music, recording studio technology and entertainment industry classes and saved my money, building my business one piece at a time.

When the studio made the upgrade to handling video production, I had no plans to do the directing myself. I negotiated for a director to handle that work, intending to let other people do the video work while I produced music tracks. In the middle of planning our first project, the director moved out of state. I had already purchased the camera, so I decided to go ahead with the project.

The first day of shooting, my lighting and camera people didn’t arrive as promised. I had actors on contract standing around, so I grabbed the camera and started shooting. The results were horrible but I was hooked! Some friends arrived part of the way into the shoot day who knew what they were doing and they took over. Enthralled with the work, I went home every night with the camera and lighting rig and worked late into the night trying to recreate their lighting and shot setups. The project was lost in a hard drive crash but it set the tone for my future as I began working on other people’s shots to learn all I could while shooting my own projects.

In my business, there are people who laugh at me and ridicule my work. Well-meaning friends offer unsolicited “critiques” until they run the friendship for me. Others have learned to hate me because I have fired my best friends from jobs and forced project buyouts on partnerships because the partners didn’t do what was expected of them. However, anyone who knows me also knows that I am a kind and caring person who always tries to do what is best for everyone around me. I am simply driven and those who work with me should be driven as well.

I’m now recovering from hospitalizations late last year and early this year. For the past few weeks, I have been feeling like my old self, even better. As I write this, I’m editing a movie project that has been on the back burner for too long. The screenplay has been published and is for sale on Amazon. I have a business video and books selling on Amazon that earn royalties every month and a listing on IMDB for my video work. I didn’t ask anyone’s permission to do any of it. I’m also going back to school, setting up my own servers at the studio and preparing to lease a server for my own work and the work of clients. I am not asking anyone if I can do it. I’m just doing it.

Sales and Distribution

People are often daunted at the idea of sales and distribution of their product or sold on the idea that you aren’t a serious professional unless you have distribution through a major company. This includes music, video and book media as well as other, newer forms of digital content.

I have some secrets to share with you on that subject.

Creative people in media habitually seek someone else’s permission to distribute. I have a friend who is seeking a publisher right now for a book and I know filmmakers who are seeking distribution. The smart ones know the biggest secret. Companies will only sell your product if they believe they can make a lot of money on it for minimal work.

What does this mean for the unknown creative media person? It means that, even if you do get distribution, your distributor (or publisher) will leave the marketing work to you unless they really believe the project will make a lot of money. With the large number of people seeking distribution, it’s often more profitable to distribute your own work. Advances in Internet technology make this even simpler. This is why an increasing number of creative people eschew traditional distribution in favor of self distributing their work.

Those who think traditional publishing or distribution makes you better than self-distributed creative professionals, or makes you more profitable, think again. Publishers and distributors routinely charge their talent for their company’s expenses to maximize their profit, while taking a hefty portion of the royalties. In some cases, musicians have signed contracts with recording companies and have lost money on their project while the record company has raked in huge profits.

I had a very fair distribution agreement a few years ago on a video project. I signed for distribution in the United States with one company and got five country distribution with another. Over the course of the selling cycle with both companies, I made enough to pay my attorney’s fee and my investor and I were still out our production costs. When the project finally reverted to me (and my investor), I started selling the project online. I made all my costs back, made enough to buy out my investor and now everything I make is pure profit.

Conclusion

What I’d like you to know about the business end of any type of media production is that it’s business, no different from any other business. Don’t be fooled by the hype and the attitudes. It’s business at its simplest. You are simply creating a product and selling it.

If you are looking for permission to succeed from someone else, so right now! This is your business and you don’t need anyone to tell you your project is worth it. Learn about your business, cover your bases and start selling and succeeding!

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