Ive spent quite some time investigating Podshow and Podtech. I've watched both of them form and grow. I've met the people behind the businesses and I've asked a lot of questions.
In my investigations, I have spent the most time getting to know content creators. I've met and pal'd around with a lot of them over the last few years and most of my best friends "have a show".
I've shared in discussions about their visions and dreams for their shows and I have heard and shared in a lot of frustration, concern and uncertainty.
The typical scenario is much like a band who "signs" onto a label for all their business and production support.
So whats wrong with these new networks? Nothing is wrong with them! They seem to be working. I'm very thankful they exist because my friends have jobs doing what they love to do and the audiences are happy.
It's just that these networks appear to be more focused on ad sales than generating content.
This is not very exciting to me. I don't want an ad sales business. Why try to enter into a market with another one of the same thing? Think Zune - there was nothing that the Zune had to offer consumers that they couldn't already get.
If I did want an ad network, I would prefer one like Federated Media. FM stands to make a percentage of the ad sales but only needs to spend on generating ad sales.
The typical new network stands to make a percentage of ad sales but must spend on a whole lot more to provide adequate support, such as bandwidth, design, production, talent management (drama), IT, PR, legal, to name but a few.
All of this added expense requires a lot more share in the ad sales and show equity for the network to make it.
It then becomes natural for the network to provide weak support in areas beyond the ad sales.
This leaves many content creators stuck in a box and disgruntled.
Abbey Corps is about enabling content creators by building community.
When the emphasis is shifted towards supporting great quality content and the options for monetizing that content remain open to outside partnerships and community support (as well as our own in-house options), the health of the organization and thus the quality of the content can continue to grow in the most natural direction.
As with Rocketboom, there is no need for Abbey to compete against anyone. When there are so many good support services like YouTube, Revver, GoogleVideo, Blip.tv, Podtech, Dotsub, TiVo, iTunes, Akimbo, Federated Media, Datagram, MoveDigital - it's silly to isolate yourself. One show may work great on YouTube and another one may not work there at all. One show might enjoy a wikia wiki and another might have it's own.
There is no one answer and there is no umbrella that has it all.
Thus Abbey is not intended to be a brand network for shows, it's a creative studio for people.
Andrew....you're right, focus on creativity. It's cool that Rocketboom has pioneered video blogging way beyond the tech world. The world of technology innovation is where we're all starting, but, thing is, there is so much more great things to cover -- culture, politics, world affairs -- so many areas that will surely be addressed by you and your network and others.
Good luck with Abbey and continued success in the New Year.
I hope you're able to execute on a very promising vision. I've been talking with Chris Brogan about the very same for months - that what content producers need access to as part of a network is something they can't get access to elsewhere, like improved tools to either grow their content or grow their audience. Ad networks are nice but ultimately leave you to your own devices, and don't help you build audience. My thing is audience - I love learning new ways of growing audience, because if you can build enough audience, ad sales will kind of take care of themselves.
Interesting. Almost every conversation I've had lately has been about content, not about advertising sales. That's why we have a separate sales team -- to focus on sales and getting us revenue so that we can continue creating fun, interesting, educational, entertaining, content. Er, videos. Er, podcasts.
Now, if I quit PodTech and come to work for Abbey, will Abbey buy me a new Sony HD camcorder? Microphones? A new Mac?
Will it pay me a good salary to do my show? And to live in Silicon Valley where all the world's top tech companies are? (Housing is expensive here). Will it help me get a bigger audience? How? Will it give me a Google AdWords budget? Will it mind if I also put Google ads or FM ads on my content? Will it do things to recognize me, like Vloggies (hey, you won one!)? Or things that'll make my job easier when I attend big industry conferences like CES (would love to have you at our BlogHaus)? Will it get me access to the world's top people, like, say, a top Hollywood director or a Presidential Candidate (both of whom we're meeting with this week)? Will it pay my travel expenses so I can go to Europe or other places to create content (Eddie and I just got back from separate trips there)? Will it pay my family's health care so I can create content without worrying about my son getting sick? Or getting cavities? Will it pay for an office and a studio so I can create content without having to do it in my son's room?
Does Abbey have relationships with the top tech companies? Can you drive over and see Google and have lunch with, say, the Google Video team? Translation: can you get my videos/content top distribution on the top networks? You've demonstrated you can for Rocketboom, but it's a lot harder now.
I don't know the kinds of things that content creators are telling you that they need, but these are some of the ones that folks are telling me that they'd like, if they are doing it professionally (translation: if they want to quit their day job and do it Rocketboom style).
Oh, and can you give me all that without making me chase dollars and hire lawyers to make sure I'm getting a good deal? Even with FM, you should have a lawyer look over the contract and, even then, they can't promise you a paycheck, only a share of revenue. What happens if their ad salespeople aren't any good? Are they willing to guarantee you a set amount every month? Last time I checked my mortgage doesn't change from month-to-month, while most advertising paychecks will.
But, I sure am looking forward to quiting my day job and joining Abbey! Sounds like fun! Can't wait to see how you help me create more fun, educational, and interesting content.
Disclosure: I work with Jeff, but I have as much insight into Abbey as what you do reading the blog at this point.
I agree with Chris Penn and some of what Robert points out, that some of the services that aren't about chasing ad dollars would be interesting. For instance, I can name about seven internet TV shows or videblogs that would really SCREAM if they just got better lighting and some microphones near the speakers' mouths.
I think reeling in attention share is important, and will matter in the niche-diving that some of the best shows can accomplish. What I love most about PodTech is that they go laser-etched deep into their niche, and really benefit their core audiences (Enterprise tech guys for the shows I used to listen to back in the day). I hope Abbey helps better marry deep niches to the shows that will play best to them.
I'm so excited about 2007. Collect your new media experts and your interface-to-the-real-world experts, and go pull a Calacanis! (what a swell verb).
Yes, very interesting. Your approach sounds more geared to those of us who seek to advance the business model, not graft old ones onto new intersections of content and communities. Strong content associated with engaged communities -- that's the ticket.
Here, here. As producer of the Interviews Podcast, I've been dreaming up a nice studio for audio and video interviews and other new media projects I'm currently working on or planning. Something like Abbey might bring me closer to that goal without having to incur great expense upfront.
Another thing is that such costs are not feasible at this time. For the past year, I've been quietly growing a great podcast which has attracted sponsorship interest from Cisco Systems, is quickly approaching the 100K mark in downloads, and features an A-list of appearances from airlines to VoIP -- not to mention nearly every damn multi-national company on the planet has heard these interviews.
So, for now, I continue producing content and marketing myself and these podcasts on practically an "invisible budget." I strongly believe 2007 is the break out year for the new media producer (my new title for the past year), and maybe Cisco (or some other company) might finally step forward and sponsor the hard work I've done this year -- or, with the promise of Abbey, produce even better content without the need for a major sponsor. I guess we'll see.