Hollywood Is Headed For The Meat Grinder: Mass Revenue Loss!

The End Of Hollywood?

File-sharing put a dent in the music industry, blogs/online publishers is shutting down print publishing and sooner or later, Hollywood will face the same scare. They are “headed for the same meat grinder that has chewed up the recorded music sector and print publishing.” ( Greg Sandoval, CNET.com).  Is this true? Can it be? It makes perfect sense….

I read this shockingly alarming article on CNET and felt it was 100% necessary to re-post and spread the word.


*For the original article, go to CNET.com.


End of the world as Hollywood knows it

To: Charlize Theron, Hugh Jackman, Seth Rogen, Tina Fey, Steven Spielberg, Michael Mann, every actor, actress, screenwriter, costumer, best boy, cameraman, set designer, makeup artist, and agent–plus anyone else who makes their living in the film industry.
From: Greg Sandoval, CNET media reporter and film fan.
Re: Your livelihood

October 20, 2009 4:15 AM PDT – Cut your spending. Save your money. Many of the revenue streams that have gushed into your industry for decades, some for nearly a century, are about to dry up. This will likely mean a period of belt tightening like you’ve never seen before.

The end is coming for DVDs, traditional movie rentals, and yes, much of your cable money will likely disappear.

The news isn’t entirely bad; you still have iTunes and Netflix–places where people spend money to buy or rent movies. You still have Hulu, Crackle.com, and YouTube, which are generating ad revenue by streaming full-length films and TV shows online. But the reality is that the amount of money that these legal operations generate is far less than the returns your industry is used to making. Unless some dramatic technological breakthrough occurs that can defeat file sharing, then you are staring at checkmate. Your business is headed for the same meat grinder that has chewed up the recorded music sector and print publishing. What will come out the other side is still uncertain but will likely be much smaller.

I’m sure many of you will write this off as the apocalyptic rantings of Silicon Valley propeller heads. But I urge you to pay attention to recent events.

Over the past five days I’ve been in Los Angeles talking to entertainment attorneys, studio executives, and some of the tech vendors who do business with the studios. I’ve been covering the sector three years now and I’ve never seen people in the film industry so dejected. DVD sales are falling, the number upcoming film releases is expected to drop. Some big shots have even acknowledged the bleak situation in public. The past weekend, at a conference on the USC campus, Disney CEO Bob Iger said the “business model that formed the motion picture business…is changing profoundly before our eyes.”

Iger warned that studios must make profound changes, “or you will no longer have a business.”

Earlier this month, Francis Ford Coppola, the director of “The Godfather” said at the Beirut Film Festival that “the cinema as we know it is falling apart.” He also predicted several of the studios would go out of business.

Of course, not all of your industry’s problems were caused by the Web. Hollywood has paid creators handsomely over the years and costs have skyrocketed. Then there’s the problem with Blu-ray. Iger noted that consumers aren’t upgrading their DVD collections with Blu-ray discs to the degree that the industry had hoped.

But if you’re really inclined to wag a finger, there is nothing disrupting your business more than the Internet. The MPAA has worked hard to force file-sharing sites out of business or push them to the Web’s fringes. At first, the studios tried to kill file sharing with lawsuits. Then they hired security firms, such as MediaDefender and MediaSentry, which promised to discourage file sharers by blocking or slowing the sharing process. None of that worked.

Maybe that’s one reason the MPAA overhauled its “antipiracy” operations three weeks ago. CNET reported on Friday that the studios’ trade group decided to change the name of the “antipiracy” unit to “content protection” and fired three leaders, including the MPAA’s general counsel.

And now, snatching a pirated film or TV show doesn’t require knowledge of torrents. There are scores of sites that stream movies and TV shows over the Web and a viewer doesn’t have to actually download the movie to their hard drive. I spoke to someone at the studios last week who said these sites are tougher to fight because they can crop up anywhere and many are based overseas. Often, said the source, “We don’t know where they are.”

“Hulu may be doing immediate harm to elements of your business, but waiting right behind Hulu in the shadows, are things that do so much more harm.”–Eric Garland, Big Champagne CEO

What is happening is that the consumption of unauthorized content appears to be moving out of dorm rooms and into the living rooms of average Americans. Here is what you’re up against:

A 28-year-old woman I’ll call Alexandra (she asked for anonymity) grew up in Missouri, graduated from college, attends church every Sunday, and told me that she watches episodes of the hit cable show “Mad Men” at least twice a week at Surfthechannel.com, a site that hosts links to many unauthorized clips. She gleefully said that visitors can find almost any TV show they want and not pay a dime.

Alexandra said a friend told her about Surfthechannel.com a year or two ago and she watches shows there because she doesn’t want to pay for a cable subscription, or a TV and because it’s so easy.

She explained that she is not a bad person and that “everybody is doing this.” She says one of her professors told her “he and his wife sit at home on the weekends and enjoyed movies they downloaded (illegally) off the Web.”

I ask her if she has tried Hulu, the popular video site created by News Corp. and NBC Universal. The site offers a few feature films and lots of TV shows free to viewers and pays for them by serving ads. She said she had visited Hulu but added that “there’s more of the stuff I want at Surfthechannel.com.”

Alexandra’s statements about Hulu come at a time when the site’s backers are mulling whether to build a pay wall around some of its content. Alexandra and people like her aren’t even accepting Hollywood’s offer of free content because unauthorized sites offer better selection.

What do you think will happen if Hulu begins charging?

Don’t get me wrong. I understand that the returns at Hulu are probably much smaller than what the studios are accustomed to getting. There’s also the problem of growing dissatisfaction among the cable operators. How long will they continue to pay big bucks if more of their customers dump their subscriptions in favor of sites such as Hulu? Leaving a business that generated billions for one that makes far less would be hard for anyone.

But the possibility that studio chiefs must consider is what if the money offered by iTunes, Hulu, and Netflix is all that a digitally ravaged media world offers.

Eric Garland, CEO of Big Champagne, a company that tracks file-sharing usage and sells the data to the studios and major record labels said: “Hulu may be doing immediate harm to elements of your business, but waiting right behind Hulu in the shadows, are things that do so much more harm.”

Posted under Blogs, Online Marketing, Online Video, Social Networks, Tech2.0

This post was written by Joshua Russak on October 20, 2009

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Taking your Site from 1 to a Million Users…FOR FREE!

Kevin Rose – The name should be familiar to you, considering he’s the founder of Digg.com. The domain “digg.com” attracted at least 236 million visitors annually by 2008  and has continuously been growing for the past year (Compete.com). The best part is….THEY NEVER EVEN PAID FOR MARKETING! Every technique they used was free and available on the internet.

Top 10 Down & Dirty Ways To Grow Your Web App:

Kevin Rose decided to bear all at the Future of Web Apps conference. Digg’s success is not due to expensive marketing techniques…everything was FREE. They used word-of-mouth and social methods to spread the word. If you want some of these methods, watch the video or simply read the summary below it:

Taking your Site from One to One Million Users by Kevin Rose from Carsonified on Vimeo.

As summarized by HighScalability.com, below you will find some of the secrets behind digg.com and wefollow.com explosive user growth. He covers ten unique strategies that turn passive users into passionate advocates.

1. Ego. Ask does this feature increase the users self-worth or stroke the ego? What emotional and visible awards will a user receive for contributing to your site? Are they gaining reputation, badges, show case what they’ve done in the community? Sites that have done it well:

Twitter.com followers. Followers turns every single celebrity as spokesperson for your service. Celebrities continually pimp your service in the hopes of getting more followers. It’s an amazing self-reinforcing traffic generator. Why do followers work? Twitter communication is one way. It’s simple. Followers don’t have to be approved and there aren’t complicated permission schemes about who can see what. It means something for people to increase their follower account. It becomes a contest to see who can have more. So even spam followers are valuable to users as it helps them win the game.

Digg.com leader boards. Leader Boards show the score for a user activity. In digg it was based on the number of articles submitted. Encourage people to have a competition and do work inside the digg ecosystem. Everyone wants to see their name in lights.

Digg.com highlight users. Users who submitted stories where rewarded by having their name in a larger font and a friending icon put beside their story submission. Users liked this.

2. Simplicity. Simplicity is the key. A lot of people overbuild features. Don’t over build features. Release something and see what users are going to do. Pick 2-3 on your site and do them extremely well. Focus on those 2-3 things. Always ask if there’s anything you take out from a feature. Make it lighter and cleaner and easy to understand and use.

3. Build and Release. Stop thinking you understand your users. You think users will love this or that and you’ll probably be wrong. So don’t spend 6 months building features users may not love or will only use 20% of. Learn from what users actually do on your site. Avoid analysis paralysis, especially as you get larger. Decide, build, release, get feedback, iterate.

4. Hack the Press. There are techniques you can use that will get you more publicity.

Invite only system. Get press by creating an invite only system. Have a limited number of invites and seed them with bloggers.  Get the buzz going. Give each user a limited number of invites (4 or 5). It gets bloggers talking about your service. The main stream press calls and you say you are not ready. This amps the hype cycle. Make new features login-only, accessible only if you log in but make them visible and marked beta on the site. This increases the number of registered users.

Talk to junior bloggers. On Tech Crunch, for example, find the most junior blogger and pitch them. It’s more likely you’ll get covered.

Attend parties for events you can’t afford. You can go to the after parties for events you can’t afford. Figure out who you want to talk to. Follow their twitter accounts and see where they are going.

Have a demo in-hand. People won’t understand your great vision without a demo. Bring an iPhone or laptop to show case the demo. Keep the demo short, 30-60 seconds. Say: Hey, I just need 30 seconds of your time, it’s really cool, and here’s why I think you’ll like it. Slant it towards what they do or why they cover.

5. Connect with your community.

Start a podcast. A big driver in the early days of Digg. Influencers will listen and they are the heart of your ecosystem.

Throw a launch party and yearly and quarterly events. Personally invite influencers and their friends. Just have a party at a bar. Throw them around conferences as people are already there.

Engage and interact with your community.

Don’t visually punish users. Often users don’t understand bad behaviour yet as they think they are just playing they game your system sets up. Walk through the positive behaviours you want to reinforce on the site.

6. Advisors. Have a strong group of advisors. Think about which technical, marketing and other problems you’ll have and seek out people to help you. Give them stock compensation. A strong advisory team helps with VCs.

7. Leverage your user base to spread the world.

FarmVille. tells users when other players have helped them and asks the player to repay the favor. This gets players back into the system by using a social obligation hack. They also require having a certain number of friends before you expand your farm. They give away rare prizes.

Wefollow. Tweets hashtags when people follow someone else. This further publicizes the system. They also ask when a new user hits the system if they wanted to be added to the directory, telling the user that X hundred thousand of your closest friends have already added themselves. This is the number one way they get new users.

8. Provide value for third party sites. Wallstreet Journal, for example, puts FriendFeed, Twitter, etc links on every page because they think it adds value to their site. Is there some way you can provide value like that?

9. Analyze your traffic. Install Google analytics, See where people are entering form. Where they are going. Where they are exiting from and how you can improve those pages.

10. The entire picture. Step back and look at the entire picture. Look at users who are creating quality content. Quality content drives more traffic to your site. Traffic going out of your site encourages other sites to add buttons to your site which encourages more users and more traffic into your site. It’s a circle of life. Look at how your whole eco system is doing.

Posted under Blogs, Events, Online Marketing, Online Video, SEO/SEM, Social Networks, Tech2.0, Viral Marketing

This post was written by Joshua Russak on October 8, 2009

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Are you ready to Blastoff? Get Paid To Social Network!

My friend just sent me an e-mail with a link to BlastoffNetwork.com and simply said “Yah, its going to be big. Its all over the internet already.” Intrigued, I probed further…

What Is BlastOff Media Group?

Not to be confused with the domain name BlastoffMedia (which I can imagine is going to get a lot of free traffic), Blastoff Network, is apparently going to be the next big thing in social networking. Imagine a world where you’ll get paid to Facebook, Tweet, Link & More. Henceforth, prepare for BLASTOFF! It’s an affiliate/MLM style company…with zero upfront fees! The benefit of this affiliate model is you get paid for up to 20 levels, (so if you sign up Jon who signs up Mary who signs up Jake who signs up Bob…etc…you’ll get paid every time that 20th level makes a sale through their site). This almost sounds too good to be true…which is not always a good thing.

“Facebook has grown to over 200 million users and no one has ever received a check! Blastoff is really a no brainer Its FREE, FUN and way for everyone to SAVE MONEY and MAKE MONEY!” (-Blast Off Media)

Quality vs. Quantity: Do We Really Need More Clutter?

The question is, WHO WOULDN’T TRY THIS? This isn’t a good statement, considering it seems their goal is to get more quantity than quality members. This will ultimately clutter the space. In an effort to recruit quality people…why not charge a small upfront fee? This will help keep away slackers and extra clutter.

The real question here is “are you ready to become an affiliate?” The porn space was built on affiliate style sales, billion dollar MLM companies thrive on the ‘get rich quick’ within us all, and Blastoff  is just another example of something tempting and valuable…but in order to pay itself off, you’ll have to slave away. Get rich quick DOESN’T MEAN EASY. You’ll have to to find a way to drive a substantial amount of traffic to your site and then CONVERT THAT TRAFFIC to sales via tempting promotions, links, etc. Good luck! There’s an industry built on trying to figure it out.

Feedback? Thoughts?

AFTER FURTHER DISCUSSIONS…I’M BEGINNING TO UNDERSTAND:

Okay…I get it now. All this “slaving away” to get traffic to your site, well, it might not be as difficult as first perceived. Think about it: Blastoff will be a 1 stop shop for all of your social networking needs AND MORE. You’ll have access to 400+ vendors in a virtual mall, there are video games, sports watchers, widgets, and more.  The best way I can describe it is like having an iPhone styled experience on the internet. Everything can be done within 1 site. Take a look to see what I mean. Here’s a Blastoff Live Launch Example: http://ppl.blastoffnetwork.com/livelaunch.

What about bandwidth? speed?

Running Facebook, Twitter, and more in one website will take a lot more than a good looking interface. I was able to find a write up that addressed this issue: “Blastoff has the newest servers and large bandwidth to accommodate all the people who log in the blastoff communications site. The speed at which the people can log in the site is great too!” (Ezine Articles). I still have a feeling speed will be an issue…but if they want things to run faser, they’ll have to sacrifice. I’m interested to see what they consider ‘waste’ and cut-off.

What will stop people from coming to this website?

I don’t know? Maybe people are unwilling to give up the multi-tab browsing, having Twitter and Facebook opened in two separate windows. Plus…unless Facebook and Twitter gave permission for some “SUPER-API”, then there’s no way the Blastoff interface will be able to as comfortable as Facebook and Twitter on their own.

(Possibly more discussions to come soon….feel free to share your opinions)

Posted under Online Marketing, Social Networks, Tech2.0

Internet Marketing 101: Stages of Customer Engagement

online-marketing-pyramid

Introduction to SEO/PPC, Banner Ads, E-Mail, Social Media (Web2.0) & Analytics

New to the online space? Not sure where to start marketing your business, or even how? Well that’s okay…because you’re not alone. This article is geared towards small business new to online space, bringing them up to speed on what’s out there and how they can take full advantage everything .

Unlike traditional marketing, the internet broadens the reach between businesses and consumers. Lower costs, mass distribution and instant responses are but a few benefits to taking your campaigns online. The beauty of the internet is that it provides many unique ways of capturing your audience by tying together both the creative and technical aspects of design and development. Below you will find a basic introduction to the many forms Online Marketing and what you should take advantage of. If you’re business is not online, you should look into testing some of the practices introduced below. For those of you familiar with the online space, consider this a refresher.

SETTINGS GOALS

Online marketing takes goal setting very seriously. Without a goal, how can you measure success? There’s so much information you can collect about your website users: Hits, Clicks, Views, Purchases, etc…but which of those are most important to you must be defined before you begin a campaign. For example, let’s assume you’re trying to sell shoes. If your site generates 1,000 hits a day, and you didn’t sell a shoe, then you weren’t successful. Now, let’s assume your website is an online newspaper and your goal is to get readers. In that case, a 1,000 hits a day is a great thing. Everything is relative. Set your goals early on so as to not get distracted.

SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING (SEM)

As the internet became more popular in the 90’s, search engines were created to help individuals locate information more efficiently on the internet. Considering the amount of new information published daily, search engines were relied more heavily upon in order to help direct traffic. Using “spiders” and “crawlers” sent into cyberspace, search engines were/are able to categorize websites and rank them. If you go to a search engine and type in “CAMERA”, what comes up is probably the most “relevant” result to that word. Unfortunately there are millions of sites competing to get to the top of that list. This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes into play.  In what could be an entire article in itself, SEO is the process of improving the amount and quality of traffic to your site from organic searches within search engines. There’s no cost to get listed naturally in Google, Yahoo and MSN and your goal should be to rank high for any relevant searches. There are free tools out there to help you optimize your website and I would highly suggest using Google Webmaster as a starter.

Search Engine Optimization allows you to drive customers to your website simply by showing up in their searches.  However, there is another route you can take to drive traffic to your website, but you’ll have to pay for it.  Pay-Per-Click advertising was instituded by search engines to drive revenue on their sites. Businesses and individuals could sponsor links at the top of search results in order to increase the chance of someone clicking their link, and they would pay for every click. Yahoo! Search Marketing and Google AdWords are two popular examples of this type of marketing. This became the primary business model and source of income for search engines.

BANNER ADS

Another more traditional form of marketing is banner ads. Similar to driving down the freeway and passing oversized billboards, these ads are very visual and in-your-face. Located either at the top or on the sides of websites (aka: Skyscraper Ads), these ads follow both Pay-Per-Click and the more traditional Pay-Per-View models. With the advances in online technologies, these ads have been increasing the way audiences interact with them. For those of you who have seen the “click the monkey to win a FREE I-POD”, you know exactly what I mean. Not every banner ad is interactive, but there are many variations and the options are nearly endless.

E-MAIL MARKETING

If you are considering direct-marketing or have experience using snail-mail in some form, E-mail marketing is the electronic approach. Companies can benefit from e-mail marketing in many different ways:

  • Low Cost- 1,000 e-mails costs a lot cheaper than 1,000 envelopes+stamps+paper
  • Fast- Will arrive in their inbox within 30 seconds, depending on the service
  • Mass Distribution- Global Reach
  • ROI Tracking- You can track successful delivery’s, who opened the e-mails and what links they clicked
  • “It’s Eco-Friendly- No trees will be harmed in spreading your message (as with this post!)” – Sam Shron, Acxiom Digital.

Considering most internet users check or send e-mails every single day, this is a highly effective form of reaching mass audience effectively. BEWARE!! This form of marketing is also highly controversial and must be done the right way or not at all. Please refer over to the CAN SPAM ACT OF 2003. The list of requirements are very specific including an unsubscribe button, who you send it to, how you send it and more. As a result, many businesses use Agency’s to handle their e-mail marketing efforts.

SOCIAL MEDIA (WEB2.0)

The popularity of social media created an entirely new type of effective marketing that has been increasingly growing stronger year by year. Why? Well, for one, considering the amount of personal information that users put online, advertisers are able to better understand who they’re advertising to and what is more likely to be effective. Within social media, you’ll find a vast amount of options:

Your campaign can go from zero to hero all because one individual liked the ad and sent it to all of his friends. Just take a look at the recent Susan Boyle video which has gained global success, with over 145,000,000+ views online. The video was featured on blogs and social networks and it was all FREE marketing. That’s the power of the internet and Social Media. But it doesn’t stop there. You can use the social networks to interact with potential customers and gain insights unlike ever before. I highly suggest you research this type of marketing and get involved any way you can. Your efforts will be pay off and the results could be endless!

ANALYTICS

As I stressed in my last article for HP, Free Website Essentials 101: The information you can collect about your visitors is extremely valuable. The only downside is the amount of information can be overwhelming. Without a question, analytics is the double-edged sword of Online Marketing. Set a benchmark for yourself and use analytics software to help define whether or not you’re reaching pre-assigned goals. Google Analytics has an internal feature to help track visitors and goal reaching. By understanding such things as, source of traffic and content-overview, you’ll be able to help your site evolve into a stronger source of business…and again, this software free, so there’s no reason to pass it up.

Posted under Blogs, E-Mail, Online Marketing, Online Video, SEO/SEM, Social Networks, Tech2.0, Viral Marketing

This post was written by Joshua Russak on May 28, 2009

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Protect Your PC: Free Anti-Virus/Security Tools

computer viruses

Remember Quake? The first-person shooter video game that was released by id Software in ’96? I’ll never forget it, b/c it was the first time I tried to download to download a game off the internet. It was also the first time I downloaded a virus. 5 minutes later my Macintosh hard drive shut down for the final time, never to turn on again. 13 years later and my father still doesn’t trust me on his computers.

13 years later and the internet is exponentially filled with harmful crap. Now more than ever, it is import to have Antivirus software on your computer. You need them to prevent and remove computer viruses  including worms, trojan horses, adware, spyware and other forms of malware.

Viruses: 30 Second History Lesson

Before Internet was widespread, viruses were spread via infected floppy disks. Soon after Antivirus Software came into use, but unlike today it  did not require frequent updating. Emails soon became a central target using executable attachments. Virus checkers essentially had to check executable files, floppy disks and hard drives. As Internet usage became more common so did the online-virus. Check out the evolution of online viruses on Wikipedia’s: Timeline of Computer Viruses and Worms.

Virus 2009: Still A Relevant Issue

This past January, “businesses worldwide were under attack from a highly infectious computer worm that has infected almost 9 million PCs, according to antivirus company F-Secure”. (PC-World) It is known as the Conficker Virus and it was predicted that on April 1st, 2009 the creator would activate this virus on all the effected machines. Computers in schools, hospitals and government departments (including the defense forces of Britain, Germany and France, grounding the French Navy’s fighter jets for a time). In march the House of Commons memorandum revealed that the parliamentary IT network had been infected. According to TimesOnline, Microsoft had offered $25,000 (£17,500) for information about Conficker’s creator. So as you can see…Virus’s continue to pose a serious threat.

Protect Yourself: Free Tools

Unless you have online-storage and don’t care about your computer, I would highly suggest you get Anti-Virus software ASAP! Check out the following 3 tools. They’re free, easy-to-use and without them, you’re computer is at risk of getting sick:

AVG
This is an easy-to-use programs that kills virus’s and spyware and stops users from going to infected websites. AVG also prevents users from opening infected executable files or programs already on your computer. Type “anti-virus” into Google and AVG ranks #1. The beauty is how fast it works and everything is pretty much automated and auto-updated. I’ve been using for 10+ years and haven’t had a single issue.

Advanced Systemcare by IOBIT
The pitch is simple: “A Click A Day to Clean, Repair, Protect & Optimize your PC”Advanced SystemCare Free (formerly Advanced WindowsCare Personal) has a one-click approach to help protect, repair, clean, and optimize your PC. With over 20 MILLION downloads since 2006, this fantastic, award-winning, free PC repair software is a “must-have” tool for your computer. 100% safe with no adware, spyware, or viruses; a PC maintenance program that’s incredibly easy to use.

AVAST! Home Edition
This all-inclusive program will protect you from viruses, malware, spyware and creepy little programs that try and hide on your PC. They’re known for protecting computers from malware picked up by peer-to-peer programs (LimeWire, BitTorrent, Napster, eDonkey, etc.) and Instant Messaging Services (AIM, Yahoo, ICQ, etc.)

Posted under Tech2.0