I am currently attending the Multiplatform Business School in Ronda, Spain, a five day workshop on, well, how to do business in an age of multiplatform content. It’s been some highly instructive five days, with something like 9-10 projects participants brought to the workshop being constructively criticized and developed further in a timely fashion. An NDA prevents me from going into these projects in any greater detail, but there could quite possibly be some really interesting projects appearing from this group in the coming year.
I usually keep my transmedia goggles as necessary, which it was, for the most part, this week. Looking at transmedia from the business angle is, for me, one of the most interesting ones. As I see it, unless you either have got the backing of a) a governmental fund for an educational transmedia project or one that helps the society in some way or b) a chunk of money from the marketing budget of a film or a tv series or a brand, you will want to be able to create something that can generate revenue in the future, revenue enough for you to be able to keep your transmedia project going, develop it further and/or have money to make the next project you want to do.
It’s basically just like any other business; you wouldn’t be manufacturing shoes unless you were pretty sure you can sell them for a profit. Likewise, I don’t think it makes sense to develop and produce an elaborate transmedia project unless you can see it generating enough revenue for it to be worth it for you (artistic efforts aside, as I can see that happening to an extent).
The five days here in Ronda have given me some thoughts on precisely this matter, some of which I though it prudent to share here (and perhaps initiate a discussion that will let everyone learn more regarding this area):
– Partnerships are important. I could probably rephrase that – partnerships are crucial (unless you’re a mega-huge company, which precious few of us are). When you’ve developed your transmedia idea or project to a level where you can clearly see how it would play out, and once you have material to show and a selling pitch and feel comfortable enough to talk about your project with possible partners, make a real effort to identify the right ones. You might want to partner with a marketing or media agency to find the right brands to work with, you might want to partner with a production company to gain more muscle behind your project, you might want to hook up with an app developer to create the app that is crucial for your project… the possibilities are many. You can find these through Google, through industry contacts and so on; the crucial thing would be to pinpoint WHAT you need and WHOM you’d want to partner with to do it (yeah, and IN WHAT ORDER). Basically: all the areas that you feel you do not master, consider a partner (and take these in the right order; you’re in a more advantageous position when you deal with a brand, for instance, if you have a strong distribution partner lined up already).
– The fragmented media world is a familiar concept for everyone. The challenges are many; how to stand out from the crowd and get noticed, how to keep the audience engaged and immersed, how to communicate in a way that does not clash with the tone and feel of the other parts of the project and so on. But to this comes the challenge on how to make money off of all of this. Getting sponsors in is a way (but make sure your value proposition is an attractive one when dealing with them or you won’t hook them), while other possible ways include app purchases, extra types of content accessible in exchange for FB credits… Something as simple as a Paypal button or perhaps even a Kickstarter campaign for some certain aspect of the project could also be effective. But still, all of these need to serve the needs of your story and your mythology, not just your wallet; consider carefully what will be the right solution for you.
– ”Transmedia” as a term is still – unsurprisingly – something that people, also the ones in the industry, have widely different views on. On every aspect for that matter – what it is, why it is, how it should be done, what the advantages are… So, my advice would be – do, by all means, name your project a transmedia one, but make sure your pitch and presentation is clear and without glitches. It’s just so much easier for buyers to say ”No” than ”Yes”, and ”transmedia” is a term that possibly can make people feel unsure about what they’re actually being pitched.
There was a helluva lot of other stuff as well – the importance of emotion in your project, the impact of mobile… Which I’ll be happy to write about a bit later.