The African-American Guide to Managing and Selling Digital Assets

One of the biggest mistakes our previous generation of brothas and sistas in the media game was not owning the distribution and sales channels. Those brothas and sistas back in the day would brag they are signed to this record label or book publisher and picked up by this movie studio. Then they get fired or dropped from their label or publisher, they can’t recoup the cash advance they spent up to look flashy and now they all washed up and out the game, owing too many people money and favors. The current generation of brothas and sistas – that means you, homey - yall should learn from the mistakes of our previous generation of Blacks and make sure we do control the distribution and sales of our media assets. In this article, we are going to talk about the foundation of managing digital assets whether it be an e-book, music download, images, video game, e-learning course, web site templates or a streaming video service. We are going to focus on omni-channel strategy techniques to sell both online and digital world with online transactions and in-store transactions. This article is really geared towards entrepreneurial brothas and sistas to start their own record label, their own book publisher, their own software company or media streaming company and control the distribution and sales of their digital assets worldwide. Controlling Digital Assets If you want to run a media company, the first thing you better have figured out is how you have proper management and control of the media assets. Having media assets managed properly will allow you to quickly adjust and expand your digital media to global markets. Let’s go over the type of media assets really quick: Source Files. This is going to be your source code and it could be anything from the original text document, the video shots or sound effects or sound bank library, the prototypes, the architecture and workflow diagrams, the MIDI file and the original software used in the creation. It is important to keep all of this original material so you can fix bugs, release newer versions and quickly translate your media into another language. Master File. This is the finish product for commercial release. This is the PDF file, the MP3 file, the .EXE file or the JAR file that the consumer will download and run on their systems to consume the media content. The master is what you are going to sell copies off to the consumer. Channel Files. These are files created by the source or converted from the master file designed for each of the channels you will market your digital media. For example, you created your music file in MP3 but will probably use another music file format for iTunes store or Windows store and another format for streaming. You should have a digital storage solution to maintain your digital assets to have all of these files arranged in a way to get at them quickly. So either in a cloud, a disk storage area with backup and security, you have a file folder with the name of the project, a source folder underneath, a master folder underneath, and channel folder underneath and archive your digital media assets in this fashion. Make sure you have assets rights and policies to make sure only authorized people are able to access your files so you don’t end up with bootlegs and leaks. Understanding Omni-Channel When Black people like to brag they are signed to a major label or publisher or a deal with a studio, what they are really saying is they just locked themselves into only a limited channel of distribution. The best example is these music artists signed to a BS major record label that won’t allow their music videos appear on YouTube even through YouTube can drive download sales. Or a Black talent have a following in Asia or Africa or Latin America but the major label won’t do business with those markets. If we own our digital media and not sign stupid contacts to feel validated, we have better control to use all available channels to promote our works in all available markets in the world. That means we decide to use Amazon, Google and Apple and smaller channels and not let someone else decide which one is best. That means we can ink our license deal with a book publisher in Brazil with the right to publish and distribute our book and we promote our book with appearances down there. This is why anybody in 2013 talking about they want to get signed to a major label or publisher or movie studio need to be held down and water boarded. So try and focus on identifying at many markets as you can out there. There are several ways to setup your omni-channel strategy but all of them involve your web site as the central hub. One way is to setup the transaction and download of your digital media asset from your web site and have partners access your digital media downloads via a web service. Another way is you provide master files to all available channels out there to resell your digital media through their channels. You provide an image, description, set the price and the master file and host it on Amazon Kindle or iTunes or other digital distribution networks out there. The best way to get started is create a matrix that show all of the file formats available for your media and all of the distribution channels and what media files they accept. Understand what the biggest distribution channels and most end user devices such as tablets and mobile phones are using for their file format. It is most cost efficient to focus first on the file format that is widely used then use the other formats later down the road if those file formats can bring in revenue. Establishing Your Web Site Your web site should obviously focus on the digital assets you are selling such as the courseware categories, the book storyline and the music and show the supporting videos, the pre-release parties and the release date and countdown. But if you are going to sell the digital assets directly from your web site, you need a way to manage the digital assets so everyone you sell is accounted for. You have to keep in mind as a brotha or sista – how are you going to sell digital media to mobile users in Belize, Barbados, Bahamas, and Jamaica if you are putting out Caribbean content? In addition what about Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa? These are markets you are going to have to enter directly into and the majors like iTunes or Amazon may not help you reach those millions of buyers for your digital media. You got to remember – the playing field is level because of emerging markets meaning you can go right into Chile and Argentina or Indonesia just as quickly as a major media company, right now! The best way to reach emerging markets is to use the serial codes that someone will have to enter to access the digital download asset. While Amazon Kindle, iPads and Androids have file formats that are secure and prevent widespread copying, having an MP3 file mean that file can be shared all over which stunted digital media growth prior to 2007. Once digital media was more secure was when the whole market blew up and profits are being made in the industry driven by secure digital downloads. To use serial codes, you create a database that has a unique code that is the serial key and most people generate a GUID in their software program that is a unique id. This is a topic in itself and I will discuss how to do this on the Dream and Hustle Facebook page – please join the Dream and Hustle Facebook page as I put up exclusive content all the time that is not on this blog. So that GUID will be the serial code and an example data row could look like this: Serial Code: ABC123-ABC1234-ABC123 Product: GetTheMoneyUp.mp3 Customer: Joe Snapple Purchase Source: Prepaid Gift Card Create Date: 12/2/2011 Claimed Date: 12/14/2011 Now, what happens here is you can create 100,000 rows of serial codes and create dates. You should always do it in this fashion so you can know when a serial code has been claim, who claimed it and where they claimed it so you can know how your stuff is selling. Most software put these serial codes within the application and have the serial code on the back of the package or inside the cover to type in. Then cats share that serial code on the Internet and selling copies on eBay with the serial code. You want to maintain these serial codes on the Internet on your database and create an “activation” service for software like courseware. Once the serial code is used from your database and you record a claim date, that serial code can never be used again! So no one in Africa can just copy your courseware on hydroponic farming to any computer and use it, they have to get another serial code to activate your courseware and you can do them just like Monsato and terminator seeds, haha! Even better is you resell your services worldwide but they have to use your servers to get the serial keys where you can assign 5,000 serial code to a resellers to provide to their end user and give them 5,000 serial codes at a time to activate and this is better tracking of affiliate code payout than someone just visiting a web site referral. Now for stuff like MP3 files, and any digital media, I do not recommend you put these files on your web site folder or directly. Instead, these files are binary files stored in a database and you stream it as an MP3 or PDF once the serial code has been entered. Now, what most digital media companies do like when I downloaded some web site templates is they allow me to access the download with 5 serial codes and that is what I paid for, the right to download only 5 times. Managing Transaction of Your Digital Media Assets You can get paid for your digital media assets using both the Internet and cash. On the Internet, you can accept online payments and credit cards or work with other distributors who will send you a check for your sales. The problem with online payments is someone is out to take a percentage cut and a flat fee off the transaction. Now, there is another way to do payments and I gave a hint in the database example above. You can create prepaid cards with serial codes and ship those out to physical locations. So someone in Lagos, Nigeria or Mexico City, Mexico in the prepaid card section can see a prepaid card of your digital media offering and a scratch off that will reveal the serial code to activate online through your database. The only thing you should require is an email address for the receipt and terms. In the cash model, the retailer pays for the serial codes at a wholesale price and you give them the option to return all of the unsold serial codes if they are not moving fast enough. Cats in Latin America or Africa or Asia pay the local retailer with cash, the retail can use the web site to activate the service and you send a link to the end user to the download. Capturing Metrics In order for you to learn about the business and grow, you have to capture metrics and plan this out before you create any software. Which channel is selling the most digital downloads? Which country is selling the most products? Are more people paying through prepaid cards or through digital resellers? All of these questions can be answered from your database management of serial codes which is why I want cats to own their own digital media distribution and sales strategy. We got to learn this information and help us grow international in markets around the world and expand the African-American mogul empire and reach. So this is why brothas and sistas should consider heavily having their own database centric web site to understand the business and where the demand is at. You want to know if Koreans are downloading your South African female artists you signed to your digital media record label so you can start touring your South African female artists throughout Korea. Moving Forward This article is for the brothas and sistas to understand how to start their own record label, publishing company or software or courseware firm using digital media. We are getting sick and tired of brothas and sistas keep complaining about no jobs when there are plenty of mogul moves and global hustler opportunities out there. From creating courseware, to e-books to signing artists and authors from emerging countries to distribute in other countries can be done through digital media distribution. Once brothas and sistas learn the basic of managing digital media and selling digital media through multiple channels, providing activation services and signing deals with global partners, then we can start owning our own digital assets and help collectively create our own media hubs to distribute books, movies, music and educational materials. And as a result, we African-Americans can own our image using our media, own our direction of our true vision as a people and own the digital assets we can pass down to our future generation of brothas and sistas to get their money up also.

7 thoughts on “The African-American Guide to Managing and Selling Digital Assets

    1. Mark, I didn’t understand your message but your link point to a gospel web site. I do not know who operate that site but I hope they understand that African-American Gospel has been the latest demand in South Africa and Nigeria – obviously they need digital music downloadable solutions incorporated.

  1. This is good info. I just developed my first app for Android but my next goal is for a web service to get on the global scene. Controlling the content is even more important than the content itself. What functional brothas and sistas we have left must realize that. I got the domain, anyone want to get down with me on this project, by the way Blacks and Kickstarter don’t mix.

  2. I would like to know if you can refer me to books that go even further into detail about the basics of managing digital media and selling digital media through multiple channels, providing activation services and signing deals with global partners. I am currently working to cover all of my bases in regards to starting a self publishing business and I really like the business model that you present in this article. I originally read this article several months ago and I have yet to meet anyone who is even remotely hip to the technology that you have mentioned. I am not a techie but I have the desire to learn and make moves with knowledge.

    1. Sendit,

      The Urban Dance Music project will cover everything you say in detail. We are going to create a monetize media system and will discuss in detail how to make it happen for video and audio and real world. In terms of books, not a lot of tech book authors are as deep into the game and me and my crew is so that is why we can bring this kind of perspective to the table.

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