Part of my job as the CEO of Exploration is to identify media to administer (e.g. manage the copyrights, resolve inevitable ownership conflicts, and account / pay royalties). Until recently, our clients consisted exclusively of music publishers, record labels, and TV/Film companies.
But I’m always on the hunt for new verticals…
I got to thinking…there must be a gazillion hours of analog media on reels in the basement of Yankee Stadium…all of the world class commentary and banter, the chirps and one liners, the news that broke during the games of the greatest team…I wonder if there were any way I could digitize them to allow for distribution and ultimately monetization on YouTube or another platform. Is there a large enough market for that stuff to make it worth while? Is the licensing sorted out, I rhetorically asked myself. I told myself to maybe think of another idea…seemed to be a bit too much gristle around it to really make money and a difference.
Then my mind skip traced to another idea..somewhat connected to finding bodies of work that are going un-monetized and have mass appeal – PODCASTS!!!
So, I built a free tool that turns an audio only podcast MP3 into an audio/video MP4 for distribution on YouTube and Facebook. You just cut/paste the address of the audio from iTunes/Skitcher/SoundCloud and drag/drop an image to create a static video. The rendering and distribution all takes place in the cloud, which is a good – it takes somewhere on the order of 4 to 10 times the length of time to render audio to video on a laptop, depending on the power of one’s machine then to upload it may double the time again…try doing this for your entire podcast library…better go get a sandwich.
I quietly made this available to a few professional podcasters about a year ago and word of mouth has powered the app’s growth ever since. We’ve only just now added logging on the back end to be able to monitor the amount of video being produced…but I estimate the total to be in the multi-10k hours at this point.
If you or someone you know is producing podcasts, you may consider this tool for distribution on YouTube and Facebook. It’s free.
One hack that I recently learned is that a belt with a composite buckle doesn’t need to be removed at airport security.
A bit of experimenting led me to the Propper Tactical Duty Belt ($10). It’s designed for Law Enforcement/Military, so its super strong and built to carry stuff on it. It’s also pretty innocuous. And perhaps most important, it’s infinitely adjustable…the buffet better watch out!
I had to work in New York City this past week and was lucky enough to see In and Off Itself at the Daryl Roth theatre. It’s a small theatre, off broadway magic show. And it is completely wonderful. Definitely check it out if you find yourself in the City. Many thanks, Miles Feinberg, for the ticket and good company!
Paul Graham’s Essay‘s are required reading for anyone building a startup. He was built what became Yahoo Stores and then, more importantly, Y Combinator, the preeminent startup incubator in the world. Learning and applying the guidance generously shared via these articles is like getting a solid head start in a hard race. I reread a few of his essay’s this week while on the road.
I have suffered from depression for the entirety of my known life. When I was younger it caused pretty significant fall out, as I didn’t have facility to deal with it. My only recourse was time…some amount of time would elapse and I would feel better. This made a lot of things (jobs, relationships, sustained progress, etc.) difficult.
As adulthood began and I became consciously aware of my ‘self’ …and importantly, that I might be able to mitigate feeling poorly, I prepared a list of things that I knew would make me feel better. It’s noteworthy that I prepared this list when I felt good, too. As anyone with depression can attest, when in the pit of sorrow, it is often very difficult to come up with even the simplest of ideas on how to course correct. As such, this list affords me a guide of things I know will make me feel better without having to think about it.
Important – These are things that have worked for me. Everyone is different and you should consult a professional if you question any of these ideas.
Listen to music – I love reggae, jazz, and ambient electronic (somafm.com)
Meaningful engagement with friends and family – I like to ask questions and let them tell me stories. Light stuff, but intentional and meaningful.
Water – 1+ liter At least a full glass as soon as I wake up and as often as I think about it during the day. You can’t overdo this. Pee should be clear.
Sleep – 7+ hours. Get into bed early and wake up when my body wants to wake up. No alarm clock. I do my very best to stay away from prescription sleep aids – only Sleepy Time Tea and Melatonin. F.lux to get rid of blue light from computer screen and “night time” mode on the phone for the same reason, if you have the phone in the bedroom at all.
Turn the phone off from before dinner to after breakfast.
Wash – Take a long shower and scrub everything more than usual.
Green food / smoothie – Big! With peanut butter and protein if its available. The infusion nutrients will contribute to my feeling better
Meditation – I like to focus on my breath in the shower in the morning for 3-5 minutes. Folks often talk about how the goal is to get the mind ‘quiet’..But, I like to think about it another way. Regretfully, I do not remember where I heard this idea, but it’s a been a good one for me. For me meditation is not about getting the mind quiet. It’s about the ability to return to a thing without judgement of having been distracted by something else. The practice for me to is to focus on my breath…the air coming in and out of my body. And when my mind invariably wanders into space monkey orange ladder bucket land…I smile, acknowledge that I drifted off from my focus, and then return my mind to my breath. This is a practice about returning my focus to something after being distracted, without judgement. So, when I’m moving through the world outside the security of my meditation spot, and some muppet cuts me off in traffic or says something inappropriate to me…those hours of practice of returning to to a thing after having been distracted by something else are really valuable.
Small victory – Cleaning a closet or a cabinet or even a shelf does the trick. A project that can be done in less than a hour…cleaning is often great, as I can see the progress with my eyes.
Help someone – strangers are the best. Helping with groceries or just opening a door.
Free Flow Write – Writing forces me to collect my thoughts. Privately in my journal or publicly on my blog.
Writing 3 things I am grateful for. Just 3.
Say sorry and/or forgive – In an letter that is mailed or not. On a call to the person or to another person as a proxy. The proxy one is very interesting, as it has proven to be just as effective.
Group exercise – Getting a sweat where I can talk to other humans. Basketball/hiking/touch rugby/group fitness class at the gym. Two important facets 1) group: work out with other people 2) sweat: work out hard. No mall walking.
Yoga – close to meditation, given the breath work and mind focus, but adding a physical component.
Read fiction – Fiction allows my brain to travel to another place. Non-fiction tends to make me add things to my work todo list.
Hug my dog – He doesn’t care at all about problems and is always eager to show me love.
Guard myself from takers – Energy vampires can wait 48 hours until I’m up again. When I am wounded, sick, and/or vulnerable I’m not interested in interacting with them. I also do not owe them an explanation.
Do not ingest depressants – Never drink or smoke to get happy. Only to get happier.
Create art – I love to paint, sculpt, and build stuff (usually with electronics or wood).
Send a handwritten letter – There is something magical about writing a thank you or note to let someone know you are thinking of them and then putting that physical record in the post.
Hire help – Call for backup to get my house in order – laundry, cleaning, cooking.
Intentionally smile and breathe deep – It is very self fulfilling practice.
Say good morning to strangers – It’s nice and they almost always say it back. When they don’t I have a reason to laugh AT them for being so fussy
Ask friends for help – Yeah, they want to know when you need them. I’m not bothering them. That’s what friends are for.
Sex – Lovingly with a partner. Leave the verbal degradation and BDSM out. If alone, without p0rn.
Reread The Four Agreements – 1) Be impeccable with your word 2) Don’t take things personally 3) Don’t make assumptions 4) Always do your best
Return to the Up folder – When my crazy isn’t acting up I like to save interesting and inspiring tidbits from around the web (articles, posts, videos, pictures). I save them to my ‘Up’ folder. When I’m in the pit of sorrow I have it right there to help.
A counselor – Seeing a professional that is paid to give me objective advice. I dated around a bit to find a fellow that I found rapport with. When dealing with a major challenge (loss of a loved one, etc.) I saw him twice a week…when everything was on the up and up, I went 6 months between visits. I just think its good measure.
Disney Movies – The hero’s journey is often told, but is engineered on so many facets to make one feel good. From the musical score to the color shading of the characters – these movies are medicine.
Suicide Support – There are good people out there that want to help.
I’m a sucker for a cool travel bag. Part of what I loved about playing rugby was all the amazing kit.
I found my latest travel bag about a year ago and it’s completely awesome. I’ve gone on multi-week trips with only this bag and it has performed beautifully. It’s got loads of room inside, has lots of compartments and zipper pockets for organizing gear/paperwork/laptop, and sits low on my back (I’m tall).
The long and short of it is that these kits are useless. And to buy a Sharpie.
What is very valuable and should be standard issue in any first aid/survival kit is a Sharpie. To write down on your thigh the time, circle the bite/injury to notate swelling, description of injury, any allergies, phone number of next to kin, and anything else a doctor may need in the event you’re unconscious. This is gold.
Birds and Bird Hunting –
This article in The Atlantic is a fascinating read on the burgeoning economy that has been created by Bird Scooters to get them charged.
But there is an element of the article that made me turn my head sideways and frown.
If you click through on the Twitter post to watch the video, you’ll hear a fellow singing Hotel California. I’ll be the first to tell you, this is not his best performance. But I know him. In fact, I know him well – his name is Dale Rogers and this was recorded in front of my old house in Venice Beach, California. And I have recorded Dale’s albums and represent him so as to get him paid. Now, this song was written by Don Felder, Don Henley, Glenn Frey and they deserve attribution and payment for any monies generated as a result of their creative work being covered…by Dale or anyone else….in addition to Dale as the artist.
But twitter does not pay royalties to composers or artists. This isn’t right, as twitter certainly enjoys traffic as a result of music on their platform, on which they sell advertising. I could have blocked the video. But I do not believe that is the way forward. I wish I could have just put some ads on it so a peanut could have been rightfully collected.
If there are any birds our there twittering about and need to know a bit about how to manage music rights at scale, I know a guy..
I’ve published my 5 Points newsletter installation for 6 months. My initial goal was to commit to the effort for 10 weeks…and when I met that with relative ease, I just kept going.
So, why am I even doing this? I’ve been asked this question a number of times. A few reasons…
When I decided to move from Los Angeles to Nashville, I was really worried about being alone in a new city and being separated from a lot of my best friends. I rely on them so much. I thought this could be a way to stay connected in a pretty low touch way. To say the move has had its challenges is an understatement, and I’m not complaining, but getting the occasional note from a friend gives me incredible strength to persevere. Thank you.
I have lots of different interests and enjoy learning about all kinds of things and have lots of ideas…and I feel that if I don’t get them out of my head that they run in the background, kind of like old crummy anti-virus software, clogging up my ability to come up with new ideas and see things differently.
Sometimes I come across resources I find valuable and that make my life easier. I get a lot joy from learning that someone else’s life has been enriched from a tool I turned them on to.
Some day, you’ll get the last one of these from me, as a result of my demise. This is a curated record, the only record, of some of my thoughts. I am convinced that humans 500 years from now will be so thankful I wrote all this stuff down.
I think it’s neat to write. I struggled as a kid to learn to read…in part because of a myriad of learning disabilities…so I’ve had to really work hard at it to figure it out. Very differently than, say, math or athletics or spoken communication…part of that working at it has been and still is, writing.
The network of folks that read this has proven most valuable to my professional pursuits. I regularly receive questions and referrals that have resulted in non-trival additions to how I make a living.
So, I’m going to keep at it for now. I really appreciate your joining me.
I’m speaking at the AIMP Indie Music Publishing Summit –
I’m stoked to have been asked to speak at the Association of Independent Music Publishers event in New York City on June 12th.
My panel will feature resources music publishers can leverage to grow and better maintain their businesses.
I’ll likely be in the city for a few days to bookend the event, so please do get in touch if you’re keen hook up.
I was riding from SOMA to Oakland yesterday with Peretz (https://www.linkedin.com/in/peretzpartensky/) and he pipes up from the back seat of our Uber pool (he gave me the front and he wedged in beside two nice ladies we didn’t know in the back) “Do you know where the first shipping container cranes ever built are?”…like that’s a run of the mill question…I took a crack with Brooklyn and then suggested Long Beach…then he pointed past my ear toward these 3 small black cranes in the near distance…Oakland. That’s where they are. The first ones.
Went on to share a lot about containers, as a result of tuning into the Containers Podcast (https://soundcloud.com/containersfmg) – Containers is an 8-part audio documentary about how global trade has transformed the economy and ourselves.
What I’m Listening To –
One of the joys of living in Nashville has been the plethora of truly world class music, everywhere.
So, last week my friends Anna and Jared Cattoor (https://www.facebook.com/twocitiesoneworld/) were in town for a show at the coffee shop down the street, and a couple of the Wooten Brothers played backup for them. Really…they just jumped in to play back up for a crowd of 15 at a coffee shop???
Anna and Jared killed it and the show was mind blowing…they weren’t thinking about it or reading the music to play…it was just happening and proliferating out of their being and it was awesome. I don’t play music, enviously, but I like to compare this sort of phenomenon to athletes playing at the highest level.
Afterward I looked into some of the things Roy Wooten had been involved with …and talk about a rabbit hole. Also known as Future Man, he won Grammy’s with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones..invented and often plays the drumitar, which resembles a piano but plays notes not found in the traditional western music scales. This instrument is based on the periodic table of elements and the golden ratio..and likes to dress up like a pirate.
I recently listened to some of the lectures and read the book (https://www.amazon.com/12-Rules-Life-Antidote-Chaos/dp/0345816021) of Jordan Peterson . He’s a focking idiot. It may sound like his ideas are worthy of consideration at first glance, because he’s smart and presents them confidently. But make no mistake, what he’s chirping is vitriol and radioactive. And when the message is distilled away from the packaging…sounds right out stupid.
Among other things he pontificates is that kindness is over rated. This is bullsh!t.
I can share with you with absolute confidence that this is patently false. Being kind and agreeable is without question one of the greatest tools I employ to living a happy life. The world has an uncanny ability to mimic the shape you present it with..when I smile, others smile back unprovoked. When I help someone out, others rush over to lend a hand when I need when I haven’t asked. When I pay it forward, somehow, incredulously, the universe conspires to afford me with the most beautiful and special good fortunes. I give a lot of credit to these facts as a direct result of being kind.
I saw this sign in the coffee shop this morning and it made me smile 🙂 and it worked
Someone recently told me via their iPhone that they would get the a countersigned contract back to me next week because they were on the road. Then I made a frown face.
It would seem to reason that in the business of getting contracts signed, countersigned, and returned such that a deal is memorialized…that one would go to the end of the earth to do just that. That collecting all the signatures…signing on the line that is dotted…is the thing! That is the hard part.
If you do any work that involves the signing of contracts or the need to scan something, you may consider Genius Scan. The app allows for the taking of a photo of some thing (paper) with your phone, turns it into a PDF, and formats it all to quickly zap it off in an email. And it costs exactly nothing. Its free.
It personifies two characters present during change – the coyote and the raccoon. One is too smart for its own good and will ultimately die. The other is a bandit, has no shame, and unfortunately, will persevere. It also highlights the meta-game…the game about the game…that is crucial to understand, if one wants to win. The topic of the article is the blockchain and cryptocurrency, however I extrapolated the lesson to be more about life in general. There are a lot of moving parts here and I think it’s well worth a look. 15 min read.
World Record Badminton Volley – 108 hits in the 2013 World Championship –
This animated short (5 mins) by Kobe Bryant was captivating. I believe the sentiment is shared by anyone saying goodbye to something they truly love after having given it their all. I know I felt some of these things when I finally hung up my rugby boots. It won an Oscar this year for good reason.
This is a short film about a pretty strange twist in the sexual relationship of a couple. It was a Vimeo staff pick last week and has been featured on a few different outlets. It pushes a few buttons and made a few people I discussed it with uncomfortable and others’ turned on, so they reported. Swedish with English subtitles. Mature content.
Do you need to watch a documentary that’ll make you feel good? Love 80’s rock – Journey!!! Watch this. It’s really pretty awesome. The film follows the real life rock ‘n’ roll fairy tale of Filipino Arnel Pineda, who was plucked from YouTube to become the front man for iconic American rock band Journey.
1,000 True Fans –
I found myself heading back to this iconic article this past week. Penned by Kevin Kelly, the founding executive editor of Wired magazine, and a former editor/publisher of the Whole Earth Review. It’s become famous in its own right, as it’s dang good advice.
To be a successful creator you don’t need millions. You don’t need millions of dollars or millions of customers, millions of clients or millions of fans. To make a living as a craftsperson, photographer, musician, designer, author, animator, app maker, entrepreneur, or inventor you need only thousands of true fans. …
I am speaking at Music Biz 2018 in Nashville next week –
This conference may be considered one of the most important music business conferences of the year, this particular stanza being the 60th.
Successfully Managing Your Releases: Best Practices and Obligations for the Independent Label or Artist
Successfully releasing your music as an independent label or artist is often times coupled with a unique set of challenges and obligations. This presentation’s aim is to highlight and discuss these obligations, while focusing on the implementation of “best practices” to ensure your music is released legally, and your projects run smoothly.
Items include choosing the right distributor, registering your original compositions with the PRO’s and Streaming Services, registering your master recordings with Sound Exchange, getting a publishing administrator, YouTube Registration and Collections, and acquiring an accounting team assembled to handle the distribution of your earnings, to name a few of the topics.
And then a neighbor began to ask for advice from me, a younger person, on what they might do to bring their home up to snuff to maximize value, as they prepare to sell. So, here! Consider these ideas.
Here’s a sampling of ideas that may pronounce the value of real estate you’re selling. Of course, if you’re in the market to buy, you may push back when negotiating price, relative to items you know you can (and will probably enjoy) find at the flea market.
What the man built changed the course of my life. The friends I’ve made and lessons I’ve learned as a result of that gathering in the dust has forever enriched how I view and move through my days.
Individually, I can thank Doug Campbell (http://projectfresh.com/) for inviting me along to my first Burn. We met in the Mexico City airport in 2010, I on my way home to LA from Buenos Aires after a round of footie and he on the opposite route on a vision quest. We made fast friends and said goodbye, as you do. But we stayed in touch, which is a bit more rare in the transient nature of back packers sharing a laugh at a lay-over airport. Doug returned home several months later and invited me, as promised, to Mind Share LA, a monthly TED-esk event that he curated. I began to volunteer on my second visit and he generously invited me to the rest of his crew, mostly whom were burners – a group of people that I admire and rely on and have become my family and that I miss dearly at present. That next burn he invited me to join him to camp with the Phage (our camp name). And the rest is history, as they say. I still call Doug one of my best friends and we always laugh so big at the hijinx and realizations and acts of muppethood we’ve committed since we last made time to hang out. One ritual he’s been awesome at is scheduling at least a FaceTime session in the future during the current hang, to give us something to look forward to.
While Burning Man is most certainly the biggest party on earth, it is so much more. For the uninitiated:
Burning Man co-founder Larry Harvey wrote the Ten Principles in 2004 as guidelines for the newly-formed Regional Network. They were crafted not as a dictate of how people should be and act, but as a reflection of the community’s ethos and culture as it had organically developed since the event’s inception.
Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.
Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.
In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.
Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.
Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.
Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.
We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.
Leaving No Trace
Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.
Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.
Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.
Thank you, Larry.
Make your web surfing faster and more private –
Cloudflare.com just launched an important option to default settings you may employ to browse the web.
Nearly everything on the Internet starts with a DNS (Domain Name Service) request. DNS is the Internet’s directory. Click on a link, open an app, send an email and the first thing your device does is ask the directory: Where can I find this?
Unfortunately, by default, DNS is usually slow and insecure. Your ISP, and anyone else listening in on the Internet, can see every site you visit and every app you use — even if their content is encrypted. Creepily, some DNS providers sell data about your Internet activity or use it target you with ads.
We think that’s gross. If you do too, now there’s an alternative: 188.8.131.52
I do not have children, but if I did, I think I would want them to learn certain things. I would want them to be kind and empathetic and tolerant. And I would make sure they ample opportunity to read and write and understand maths. Among many other other things.
I would definitely expose them to coding computers. And Scratch is hands down the best way to do that today. 200,000,000 kids interacted with Scratch last year. If you haven’t shared it with kids you know, you may consider it.
Scratch launched in May of 2007 as a downloadable desktop application. Kids could create their own interactive stories, games, and animations on their computer and share them with the online community by uploading them to the Scratch website. The release of Scratch 2.0 brought Scratch to the web in 2013, resulting in exponential growth in the Scratch community. Scratch is now the world’s largest coding platform for kids; it’s available worldwide, for free.
Calli Beck just launched her online store. She uses a laser cutter to make beautiful lamps and wall art and more. She is also available for commissions and can build amazing spaces for stages, festivals, gatherings. Her eye for perspective, flow, and feel is remarkable.
Ezra would be incredible to work with – smart like crazy smart. driven like you don’t know how many hours are we still working? and funny. Laughing hard with and at and because of people all over the park. funny.
We are recruiting our core technical team to build digital cash. If you’d like to help us design a privacy focused, usable, and scalable cryptocurrency that complies with regulation, shoot me a message. We’re looking for engineers who have worked on big systems (>10M dau) and want to work on low-level code. Direct memory access is a critical part of our problem set.
Please reach out to his team directly if you or someone you know might be a fit. I can say with a large degree of confidence that working with Josh on this project would be a life changer for most. If you think you even have an inkling of skills to get on board, stop what you are doing and sign up.
A Trip Through New York City in 1911 – From the collection of The Museum of Modern Art
Slowed down footage to a natural rate and added in sound for ambiance. This film was taken by the Swedish company Svenska Biografteatern on a trip to America.
Look at the hats!!! And look at everyone looking at the camera. It must’ve have been such a foreign looking instrument.
Exploration Group is a media management and technology company headquartered in Los Angeles. Equally, wholly, and privately owned by Rene Merideth and Aaron Davis, we answer to our clients exclusively and provide them with maximum agency.
Exploration is proud to be the company of choice to compile and administer the metadata identifying much of the world’s most important media. However, we keep who we are working with private. Our clients repeatedly report how much they appreciate this simple policy.
Our mission is to help our clients identify, organize, and distribute the data required to thoroughly protect and administer their audio and video works. We rely on old relationships; new software; and a kind, smart, dedicated, and full-time staff of 30+ people to execute on behalf of our clients and partners.
Exploration currently represents and consults with music publishers, record labels, domestic and foreign performing rights organizations, and tv/film clients globally for digital rights at YouTube, Harry Fox (Spotify, Facebook, & others), and Music Reports Inc. (Pandora, Apple Music, Amazon, & others).
On each platform, we evaluate our client’s current efforts; augment and update their works; resolve any conflicts or problems that may arise; provide analytical analysis and reports on demand; and collect, process, and payout royalties as often as they are remitted from the platforms. We remain flexible with our services and allow clients to pick and choose the services they need.
We charge a commission on earnings for our administration services and a flat fee for our consulting services. Our agreements are month-to-month and may be cancelled at any time.
Exploration progressed exceptionally well again in 2017.
We are very proud of the strides we made on behalf of our clients, seeing an overall gross increase of 139.57% in royalty collection.
Our business model has expanded to service several additional lines, channel management and marketing, and one-off, project oriented consulting.
We now have 30+ full time staff that are increasingly becoming more specialized in their tasks. And we are very fortunate and proud to offer all them full premium health, dental and eye insurance, gym memberships, monthly book of their choice, monthly team dinners, and weekly awards that incentivize them helping one another.
Our business remains in the black and we continue to save a significant portion of our profits each month.
All of the above helps us put our interest squarely where it belongs – toward our clients.
You cannot rest on your laurels in this world. Folks will not tolerate it.
Our clients’ expectations are never static – they go up. It’s human nature. People have an insatiable appetite for a better way, and yesterday’s ‘wow’ quickly becomes today’s ‘ordinary’. And I see this increase in expectations, the demand for excellence, as a result of the expertise one needs to do business in 2018. In any given month from a multitude of sources, clients are made aware of yet another settlement portal, a new platform needing to be collected from, an additional metadata point being reported as mandatory, and more. These examples are from our publishing vertical, but I assure you the same phenomenon is happening broadly across everything we do at Exploration.
How do you stay ahead of ever-rising customer expectations? There’s no single way to do it – it’s a combination of many things. But prioritization, high standards, and working together are certainly a big part of it.
Prioritize and Execute
First, prioritization comes as a result of learning from our stakeholders – our clients – what is most important to them. Be it maximum royalty collection, cleanliness of data, or speed in handling the inevitable ownership conflict…or all three and more – we use this knowledge as directive for what to get busy working on.
Secondly, before starting any work day, our staff connect with each other to identify what has transpired since they last logged out, to make sure that the tasks ahead are exactly the ones that will bring us closer meeting the expectations of clients.
This constant reflection on what to work on first, then settling in to really get after it, has proven to be a materially valuable effort. We will continue to refine and hone this skill.
The room for error when handling others’ privacy, property, and money is profoundly low. So is the tolerance by platforms for making mistakes, as they too are held accountable by interested parties that are affected.
For this reason, we commit to several practices that allow us to embody and retain relentlessly high standards.
We hire only those people that have proven themselves to have the utmost integrity, intelligence, and drive.
We promote from within.
We train. And we train. And we train some more. (i.e. all staff are YouTube certified in multiple areas)
We deliver the raw platform data to our clients when remitting royalties and invoices.
We teach via publicly published guides that are domain specific.
Cover and Move
Rene and I learned this concept from the rugby field – as an aside, that is where we originally met – she was a photographer for one of the teams I was playing on. Over a cold, adult beverage one evening she began to share with me the challenges of administering publishing rights in the digital world. I was keen to make a career change. And as they say, the rest is history.
Rugby is the epitome of a team sport. You can not go at it alone. The rules and fundementals of the game do not allow it. You must take someone with you. Support, as it were, means that you hunt in packs on defense and you have mates behind and adjacent to you on attack (offense). This foundational principle is repeatedly practiced at even the highest levels and for good reason – it works.
Old habits die hard. We brought the idea over from the pitch and have woven it into our company’s DNA. And it works.
First, we closely work together with our clients and partners, at a scope that they mandate. For some, just knowing we are available on demand to handle anything they need is sufficient. While for others we meet weekly or monthly, provide proactive reports of all completed work, and visit their offices to work in concert with their staff.
Secondly, we collaborate via shared databases with works co-owners, competitors, and platform partners. This allows us collectively to mitigate double work, which results in more efficient resolution and ultimately, royalty distribution.
Finally, we work extremely hard to make sure we, as individuals, are working with each other within our organization. We have very high expectations of ourselves, much higher than those imposed upon us from outside forces, which contributes to considerable pressure. We learned the hard way last year that, if not paid attention to and actively addressed, this can cause unhealthy competition amongst teammates. We have a variety of systems in place now that make working together easier, but the one that has been most fruitful is to incentivize actually helping each other. Staff members are given an opportunity to share with the larger team how a co-worker really went out of their way to help with the greater effort…it’s quite remarkable what happens when folks get competitive about helping each other.
Benefits of Prioritization, High Standards, and Working Together
Building a culture that puts task prioritization, extremely high standards, and collaborative effort as paramount is well worth it. Most noticeably, we are able to accomplish what is expected of us from a most discerning clientele. It also helps with recruiting and retention, as talented and highly skilled people are drawn to this culture. More subtly, a culture of this calibre protects all the “invisible” but critical work that gets done when no one is watching. It’s part of what it means to be a professional and it helps to insure that we will continue to be able to execute on this level for a long time.
The culture we have demanded of ourselves and strive for has served us well. We’re extremely proud to share some of the milestones we hit last year. We take none of them for granted
Ingest and Claims
Asset ingests, manual claims, and potential claims resulted in a total of approximately 3 million assets having ownership asserted, which have claimed in excess of 44 million videos, resulting in over 45 billion views.
We resolved 13,246 conflicts, unlocking royalty distribution for our clients, co-owners, and our competitors on approximately 219 million daily views.
We increased the Year over Year Ad Performance Revenue by 139.57%.
Most of our clients report that the data we have compiled on their behalf is now the authoritative record of their intellectual property.
This year marks the 4th anniversary of our first annual report, and the principles and fundamentals that drive us remain unchanged. We continue to aspire to be the very best at what we do, expect more from ourselves them anyone else ever could, and recognize with acute clarity that the work has only begun. The magnitude of the challenges ahead are not lost on us. In fact, it is what drives us.
A huge thank you to all of our clients for the trust to be the guardian of your intellectual property, to the platforms that allow us to work within their systems, and to our kind, smart, and dedicated staff.
We look forward to the future.
Facta, non verba.
Rene Merideth and Aaron Davis
Who is Exploration?
Exploration is proud to be the company of choice to administer much of the world’s most important media. We rely on old relationships; new software; and a kind, smart, dedicated, and full-time staff of 30+ people to execute on behalf of our clients and partners.
We’re writing a free book on how the music business works. Learn more here.
The catalog metadata template offers the minimum viable data needed to collect digital royalties. Download the .csv file here.
Please feel free to reach out anytime if you have any questions or ideas!
The legalization of marijuana seems to be speeding into the national consciousness and onto ballots in the United States.
One of the last people I expected to embrace this sea change is Mitch McConnell – Senate Majority Leader (Republican – Kentucky). Last week he introduced a bill to remove hemp from the controlled substances list.
Also last week, former Speaker of the House, John Boehner (Republican – Ohio), joined the advisory board of Acreage Holdings, a company that cultivates, processes and dispenses cannabis in 11 U.S. states.
There is an interesting facet to this movement that I can’t seem to find data on though…
Proponents of marijuana legalization often say “Why don’t they just tax it?”…and on the surface, that seems to be a legitimate rhetorical question; there is much tax revenue to be collected, as Colorado can attest.
But I posit that it already is, in favor of illegality, predominantly at the expense, of young black men.
I think of all the jobs and budgets and systems that are predicated on the fact marijuana is illegal. The lawyers and judges and prisons and police…omg the police department budgets…that all go bye bye the moment marijuana is legalized. Which is, in large part, why it was deemed illegal in the 1930’s:
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” ~ Upton Sinclair
For those following the movement, one may also notice the lack of use of the word ‘Marijuana’, being replaced by ‘Cannabis’, which is pure marketing. The former has a negative connotation and the latter has been associated with medicine. Makes enough sense.
The thought leaders here may also consider the appearance of the advocates, often being dreadlock wielding, reggae listening, bare foot dancing hippies. This doesn’t bode well for the Bible belt, Wall Street, and generally, the Right.
A lesson from the civil rights movement in the United States suggests how you look is everything:
Time will tell how our culture embraces the shift in jobs, as a result of the move from illegal to legal, but it is a good thing the shift is taking place. The medical benefits, the opiate pandemic, the tax revenue, the stigma, …let’s not mince words: the fact more people smoke than do not.
It should be legal.
Enjoy your 4/20!
Momento Mori –
I believe it to be good practice to reflect on the fact we all will die. It helps to prioritize things.
This interesting article breaks down a lifetime of 90 years into different segments…days…winters…
Would you like to work with me at ProPublica? Because now is your chance. We’re hiring a bunch of reporters, editors, technologists, HR, legal, and more. PLEASE APPLY and SEND ME YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS.
You should be excited about the mission of this place: My colleagues in the newsroom tell stories with *moral force* which is an incredibly badass thing to align yourself with. On the business side, we make sure they have the resources and tools to do that work, and I want all of our new hires to LOVE it.
Bring your special self to the job: We need people with hard skills for the job, and we also need you to bring your insights and judgement. We want diverse candidates from all backgrounds because hiring you – yes, you – makes us better, smarter, more resilient as an organization.
Be quick on the draw: We have big plans and big dreams for 2018 and beyond, and we want to meet you IMMEDIATELY. Apply NOW. If you have questions, EMAIL us. We always give you a contact email for a job, so don’t be afraid to use it. I rarely check messenger, but you can email me at my work address if you have questions: [email protected]
Google I/O – Exploring Augmented Reality Interaction – Wed. May 9, 3:30PM – 4:30PM – Stage 7 – Beginner
Friends doing awesome stuff alert!
Chris Kelley is a design lead in AR/VR prototyping at Google and is speaking on this panel.
CK and a couple other good boys first put me up when I arrived in LA 15 years ago. We have been through so much together over the years… we scrummed down together on the footie pitch to pocket a couple national titles, roomed in a crummy flat in Venice Beach, noodled a fair number of good and bad business ideas, and lit out across the earth in search of adventure more than once. He’s since married a lovely gal, has beautiful new daughter, moved to SF, and landed at Google. And for my friends in the Bay curious about AR @ Google, feel free to ping me to connect with him. He truly is a wonderful and brilliant person and is an expert in the field. I consider him one of my very best friends and most trusted advisors.
And if you find yourself at Google I/O this year, do go listen to him speak and heckle him. It’s fine if you blame me.
I’m fortunate that I’m able to travel quite a bit, sometimes for longer stints, for work. This site is so easy and valuable if you’re planning on staying more than a week or two some where and need to keep working.
Nomad List is the biggest crowdsourced database of cities in the world analyzing 250,000+ data points to help you choose where to go next — and when you arrive, it connects you with 49,738+ 🌍 nomads there.