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Multi-Channel Networks and Online Content Execs Mix It Up at Inaugural Stream Conference for Digital Creators

Multi-Channel Networks and Online Content Execs Mix It Up at Inaugural Stream Conference for Digital Creators

“Manage change by provoking
it.”  Alexander Manu , Keynote
Speaker, Stream Conference 2013.  If
there were one line I could repeat about the mood at the inaugural
Brunico, this would be it.  I have no
illusions that the world of traditional “filmmaking” and the digital
arena are converging so I try to attend as many new media and advertising
conferences as I can.  The panels are
interesting, but I most enjoy mixing with the other attendees to get a boots on
the ground perspective from the digital trenches.

STREAM bills itself as the “world’s
first marketplace and conference for Internet TV originals…bringing the
independent production community together with the leading Internet TV
development executives, media agencies and brands to network, do business and
learn how to work together more effectively.”

A very ambitious mission for a first-time
event.  I have to give them credit
though, the Brunico team (responsible for the venerable RealScreen and
KidScreen conferences) had quite a line up of speakers and execs for the panels
and speed pitch sessions offered to attendees. 

A few takeaways from STREAM:

“You can distribute your content if you believe you
can.” Alexander
, Keynote speaker, Stream.

Billed as a “provocative author, speaker and leading
practitioner in the field of strategic foresight,” in all honesty Alexander
Manu provided one of the best keynote presentations I’ve heard in years; on the
level of TED.  More than a couple times I
shared a Mind=Blown moment with fellow attendee Will Keenan from Maker Studios as
Manu discussed his research on behavioral space and the changing context of
content delivery and creation.  Manu
posits that “the transformation from linear to Internet TV is not a
tactical challenge, but a strategic one.” Hmm… See what I mean?  The audio is available free here.

Most of the following panels were excellent and featured high-level
execs from the likes of Yahoo! Inc., Paramount Insurge, WME, Funny or Die, and
others; with titles such as, “Agents and Managers for the Digital
Age”, “Meet the Newest Heavyweights to Enter Original Online
Video”, and “The Art of the Syndication Deal”.

However as an active YouTube creator I was most
interested in what the heavyweights from the MCN (Multi-Channel Network) panel had
to say.

Moderated by Drew Buckley (COO Electus), the panel featured
Barry Blumberg (EVP Alloy Digital/President Smosh), Brett Bouttier (COO
Awesomeness TV), Sarah Penna (Co-founder Big Frame), Aaron DeBevoise (EVP
Machinima), George Strompolos (CEO Fullscreen), and Chris Williams (CDO Maker

The debate rages over what these new entities
“MCNs” really are and what they bring to the content table.  Some are essentially aggregators of similar
YouTube channels that make it easier for audiences and advertisers to find
similar content to enjoy or a particular demographic to target, and others have
morphed into neo-traditional entertainment content production studios.  What I found most interesting about this
panel was that while it was supposed to provide insight as to specifically how
MCNs make money for their content partners, it morphed into a discussion of how
these studios are working hard to actually move their content OFF YouTube, or
at least develop content that lives in more traditional spaces than YouTube
exclusively.  This was literally on the
heels of a fascinating blog post by YouTube personality and entrepreneur Jason
Calacanis decrying what he called the unfair business relationship
between Google and it’s content partners. 
Read his post here
and feel free to give your two cents’ worth below! 

The MCNs understandably have to walk a fine line, but they
all admitted to also be working on taking their content to other platforms
and/or traditional TV, if not off YouTube altogether.  Lucas Shaw has his own thoughtful take on the
MCN’s discussion here.

I think a diversified strategy usually tends to be best
anyhow, but in the end good content will always win.  If one platform or distributor doesn’t want
it, keep shopping it until you find the right home for it.  We use YouTube to study the market, create
interest, and even make some money on the side. 
Our Ouija movie I Am ZoZo was
essentially incubated on YouTube and we made changes to the film’s script based
on the demographic and viewer interaction we were seeing on our viral

Even while admitting that they are always trying to
diversify, Barry Blumberg EVP of Alloy Digital and Smosh made a pretty simple
argument in favor of staying with YouTube on some level, “Say what you
want, but YouTube doesn’t want to own your content like the TV networks
do.”  A powerful distinction!  With YouTube rolling out subscription
channels and continuing to work on it’s VOD service I wouldn’t count them out
as a viable long-form distribution platform. 
When you factor in the cost of hosting and streaming your own video
content and creating a massive user-friendly social network, YouTube’s terms
hold their own against any broadcast deal (last time I checked NBC wasn’t
handing out advertising rev-shares to indie producers. or letting them own 100%
of their content.)

Random quote for thought: “DVDs are still the biggest
moneymaker,” Brett Bouttier COO, AwesomenessTV on their DVD release of the
“All Around the World” concert film about boy-band phenoms Mindless
Behavior.  It’s true, DVDs are still
hanging around so don’t give up on them yet!

Interesting startup
of the day:


There are a million new services popping up promising to help
filmmakers get distribution or providing some automated service that is
supposed to streamline the insanity of film production.  As a habit I make it a point to try out most
of them if for no other purpose than to see what these services think I need.  As a “music licensing and technology company that
provides creative music licensing solutions for all media”  music
licensing service
Audiosocket seems to have great potential for indie filmmakers
and established producers alike.  I sat
down with toppers Jenn Miller and Edward Averdiek and posed a couple of
questions about their new service.

Zack Coffman: How can your services help producers and content creators deal with the conundrum
of music licensing?

Jenn Miller: All music is pre-cleared for any media, so you can quickly and easily find and
then license music to meet your needs at the click of a button using our

ZC: What kind
of music do you have available?  There
are stock libraries out there already.  What makes Audiosocket different?

JM: Our
curation strategy is what differentiates us, we have a team that scouts
emerging artists using blogs, venues and festivals to find great acts.  As well, we just partnered up with Cue Songs,
a company founded by Peter Gabriel and Ed Averdieck, to bring their well known
artists to our roster of great indie artists!  Their music will be available this fall. 

ZC: Is it

JM: Yes.  We strive to get our artists paid fairly
while using a fresh perspective on what licensing rates should be based on
where their media is being used. No one will pay even $100 for a track being
used for a personal video of their kids playing soccer to share with friends
and family. But they’re very happy to pay $2. Likewise, a wedding videographer
will not pay $100 a track for a single use when they may make $500-$2000. We
understand that and have priced these licenses accordingly.

ZC: What about
syndication, copyright notification systems and Content ID?

JM: Our
licenses can cover all web media, just make sure you get the right license.
We’re also in early beta with a license identification technology which
authenticates a license across the web. It will call back a license from
anywhere on the web, validating its clearance rights so for those using the
system, your work will not be claimed, taken down, contested, etc.

ZC: How did Audiosocket come into being?

JM: While running an extreme sports organization, I was clearing music for
these films by famous artists when I discovered a much easier approach. Instead
of trying to track down and get return calls from dozens of rights holders in a
timely manner within a fixed budget, I started working with my now business
partner, licensing music from touring bands he’d booked for shows at one of his
venues. My clients got affordable music from the freshest emerging artists and
their movies helped propel these bands careers. And my job of clearing content
was simplified. Win-win-win. So my business partner and I, on a whim one night
over margaritas decided to start Audiosocket.

Written by Zack Coffman,
Head of Content, Distribution, & Strategy at One World Studios Ltd.  He is an award-winning producer specializing
online strategy and monetization,
, and YouTube channel development
Connect with Zack on
LinkedIn, Google+,

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