Bring me sunshine, in your smile

eric and ernie
Over on the podcasters mailing list Mark Czajka asks about selling podcasts. I’ve been talking to people about this sort of thing recently too.

It came to me in mid-bite of my apple this morning, as I contemplated another day in London in the 80s*, that selling content is like selling sunshine.

Nobody tries to actually sell sunshine directly – that would be stupid and, under some jurisdictions, doubtless illegal. Here in the UK, we’d have to give the deckchair-hire surfer-dudes each a combined visible light, heat and UV-meter, get them to take readings regularly, and then go round busting people for more cash when the clouds disappeared (but we could also probably get away with paying them even less as they get free sunshine as a perk of the job!).

But do you doubt that there is money to be made if you have access to sunshine? Those deckchair-hire dudes are just a tiny part of the sunshine economy, and the benefits are open to anyone who lives in a seaside town in the summer. You make money by doing anything that enhances the sunshine experience, helps people get to the sunshine in the first place or helps them yakk about it for the next six months till they get their next dose.

Sunshine is free, it wants to be free but it can also bring you customers and put them in the mood to spend their money. And that’s what damned fine writing, sounds & pictures should aspire to do too.

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* I mean 80-something fahrenheit, of course, the time machine to take me back to my youth still has some kinks that need ironing out before I can spend a whole day there. btw dexys send hugs (except kevin, he’s in a mood ‘cos I told him what happened to princess di).

Act Naturally

ppvb050827OK, so it’s back to first post and suck time. Almost one year into this blog and you get your first opportunity to see me in moving pictures. Having been interviewed by the beeb already this week, I guess I’ve just got the bug, I’ve got to be in front of a camera daahlink.

In this opening episode, Lloyd gets to find out that he looks like sh*t, that his eyebrows look like hairy caterpillars and he has Austin Powers teeth. He also finds the one face that he should never, ever, pull in public, unless he wants to be shot.

Maybe this will be a one off, maybe it will continue – you’ll have to keep tuning in to see.

Also, I don’t know if all of this will work at all in a blogpost, so be patient with me, luvs. [update: ok, it works for me in IE, but Firefox insists on treating it as a text file. Tell me gently what I'm doing wrong, please. Ta.]

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Perfect Path Pontification Probed

RTS Interview 01So you all read what I said about the Queen’s Telly Club a few weeks ago (it’s not really the Queen’s and it’s not really a telly club, it’s the Royal Television Society Convention, but I just can’t help myself sometimes).

Well by a secuitous route from there and through the process of me repeatedly opening my big gob about it, I ended up in the meeting room at the Perfect Path Penthouse being interviewed by Kuldip Dhadda from the BBC, filmed by the lovely Jackie who in turn was assisted by Tom.

We covered the *gasp* threat to traditional broadcasting coming from participative media like blogging, podcasting and vlogging. Apparently they’re scared that we’re going to eat their lunch. After we were done it came to me that there was an opportunity here for the parable of the loaves and the fishes, but woe, it was too late. We hung around the corpse of advertising, picking over what we might scrape off the bones. We talked about why I do it (blog & podcast that is) and why it’s popular and makes for more accessible and worthwhile content. And we also took a look at Public Service Broadcasting and I tried to avoid puffing up their egos too much by going on about the BBC being the only player who’s actually doing anything useful in this area and ITV just being crap.

These bits will all be chopped up and mixed in with other contributions from other esteemed commentators (*ahem*) to form four short pieces of video that will be the introduction to debate sessions at the conference.

Sadly I shan’t be able to be at the conference itself as they’re too tight it’s very exclusive and apparently the only guests are kind of those stratospheric guys you and I only dream of meeting…. y’know like Michael Grade. Of course I could *buy* a ticket, but given the current state of the Perfect Path coffers £1700 (plus VAT I shouldn’t be surprised) is a bit on the steep side – though naturally I’m open to sponsorship offers, so if you’ve a couple of grand to spare, plus a little extra for danger money for going in with a podcast wire, you know how to get hold of me hehehe.

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Girls go Geek in London

The first London Girl Geek Dinner happened and was partially recorded last Tuesday (16th), but in the slow backwaters of mid-August, it takes a week for these things to percolate through on Perfect Path.

The last couple of bashes at the Texas Embassy (special guests Robert Scoble in June and Seth Godin in July) have been throbbing testosterone fuelled affairs, with a smattering of women, but overwhelmingly male.

So Sarah Blow made use of Hugh’s excellent wiki to organise one just for the grrrls. Fortunately for me, guys were allowed as long as they went on the arm of a girl who was already going – and of the several thousand that asked me, Helen Keegan was the first.

Naturally, there was just as much noisy conversation from 50 women as there had been from a mixed crowd of 200 – it was different, but in a weird way that didn’t make sense to my male psyche but the big diff was that I talked so much I didn’t take any pictures and I haven’t seen any either. Certainly something in the room distracted me so much that I didn’t notice until too late that I only had about 25 minutes of space on my minidisc and my brain turned to goo trying to work out why it had stopped working in mid podcast. Sorry Table 69.

I met some new people and some of the usual suspects but overall it was great – I would strongly encourage gorgeous techie women to go to the next one, but guys, don’t bother, you wouldn’t like it. No really, believe me, it was hell, just forget I mentioned it, you really really really wouldn’t like it.

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So how do we make money?

I’ve had this conversation a few times recently and just realised I hadn’t written about it here.

It comes from putting all of these things together:

Democratisation of media – “anyone” (ok, not anyone, but a lot more people than before) have access to technology that allows them to produce written, audio and video content of a very high quality and distribute their offerings to a global audience. One of the key effects of this is that the distinction between producer and consumer gets blurred – more and more people are both.

Content is worth more if you can get it free than if you have to pay for it – people increasingly expect to get stuff on the net for free and in fact they value the product more if they’ve been able to get a free sample (or even the whole thing) online. Music and movie producers shouldn’t worry about file-sharing and copying for this reason. However, it does raise the question “What can you sell people through the web?”

Advertising is dying. It may be a slow death or a quick one, but the trend is downwards and terminal. People don’t want to be interrupted by commercial messages anymore. Yes we need commercial information, but we want it available when we go looking, not jumping out at us wherever we go. Please don’t try to grab me by the eyeballs. Trouble is, advertising is *the* business model in media – who knows how else to make money out of it?

When you put all of those things together, the future starts to look gloomy for media execs especially in TV. How on earth are we going to continue to make programmes and make money? I don’t know the answer, but I’m enjoying talking about it to help get to an answer. Whatever, I’m sure that it involves people in TV talking to people (currently) outside TV to see what things haven’t worked in the past and it also involves talking to your audiences as if they have something you want, rather than the other way round.

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