After the class on Tongal, I left the room with a question – would the big advertisers or entertainment companies let these creative artists succeed? Do these artists even stand a chance picking the alternate route, which is quite different from the traditional path? How will Tongal eventually monetize its content? I guess my understanding was incomplete until I watched the Oscar-nominated (and almost Oscar-winning) movie “La La Land”. It gave me a quick sneak-peak into the life of an entertainment artist in Hollywood and what struggles or compromises they must go through, to become a star one day!
One platform which is trying to make the dreams, of these up and coming artists, reality is HitRecord. Founded in 2005 by Hollywood actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt and his brother Dan, the project initially started with the intention to seek feedback on the brothers’ projects; however, later they saw immense potential in creating a social media platform where they can collaborate with artists on creative projects. This not only gave them the flexibility to work on versatile subjects and inexpensive access to creative talent but also introduced them to the opportunity of monetizing this valuable network.
The crown jewel of HitRecord called “HitRecord on TV” was launched in early 2014 as a variety series show. In today’s age where consumers are continuously looking for new TV content, HitRecord capitalized on the “reality show” trend and runs each episode on a specific theme e.g. high school, games, future, etc and encourages artists to come up with innovative concepts around the theme. The first episode of the show had contributions from 426 HitRecord artists and all of them got paid. With the massive content crowdsourced from its loyal creative artists, HitRecord launched Season 2 of the series in 2015 and has been trending high. Joseph does not enjoy the profits alone – all creative artists who contribute to the TV episodes receive payments for each piece of work assuming per episode revenue of $50,000. Channels and advertisers quickly recognized the value and started offering competitive rates for the 2nd season.
What is it that distinguishes HitRecord from Tongal? Unlike the declining clients and community members of Tongal, the contributors on HitRecord platform have stayed somewhat loyal. There could be multiple reasons for it – quick monetization where almost each contributor receives some sizable $ amount where Tongal’s compensation kept dropping over the years, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s star appeal and network which gave the platform a strong start, particularly on TV, whereas Tongal struggled to convince companies and advertisers to invest in the module, artists enjoying wide range of creativity for new concepts which may never have been thought of before while Tongal’s contributors try to give new brand personality to established brands, etc.
However, as HitRecord gears up for the future, it may be exposed to further challenges. One, contributors may eventually want to establish their own brand instead of having Joseph Gordon-Levitt act and be the face behind each creation. This may result in significant churn-off if a more effective platform enters the industry. Two, open content is accessible for all the users on the platform which, in some cases, may pose a risk for established artists who become popular through the TV show. Three, as the TV show becomes more popular, contributors may want to get a deeper understanding of the revenues and their corresponding compensation.
Although some fear that HitRecord may be operating at a loss today, Gordon-Levitt is optimistic about the potential this valuable and creative community has and is looking to generate more demand for this content in the industry while retaining the talent through fast and competitive compensation as well as strong valuable connections.