Troop 4 party has been a success!

Okay, quick notes:

  1. The Troop 4 party went really well.  Terrific food, and I got the two new videos done fairly well by the deadline, so that’s awesome.  Some of the audio needed work and the animation was spotty on the cartoon, but other than that it turned out great.
  2. With regards to two questions asked of the cast payments, yes, if my network is successful that will affect cast payouts, and no, payouts will not go up in tandem with inflation, at least not directly.  $1/year/actor/video remains $1/year/actor/video [that’s the standard minimum payment] unless my income increases.
  3. Realistically, however, my income should gradually increase over time as I gain a more extensive reputation as a vendor, better skills, more experience, etc, and my income is also likely to go up in terms of dollars as the value of a dollar gradually trends down over time.  I am listing a very high income bracket in the chart below, and that might SOUND like pie in the sky for an artist like myself, but I’m not being ridiculous; I’m actually well aware that the only way I’ll ever reach $200k+ in income by the end of my career is if my career somehow gradually improves, and the value of the US dollar is collapsing during the next half a century and inflation is persistently high.  Which could well occur given America’s rising debt levels.  Even if inflation’s at a historically normal level, though, that still means we should expect the dollar to be worth around 20% of what it is now, by 2060.  So that’s when I expect that sort of income is *possible* for me – the final years of my career, and it would be more like $40k in today’s terms.

Here’s the chart:

Payments to cast members, revision 

My aim then, is to hold the residuals or ongoing payments, somewhere just slightly below 10% of my total income, and another 10-12% in one-off pay in any given year.   Residuals can be adjusted simply by adding more or less in the way of new content in any given year.  If my income [after taxes] is soaring, I will make more videos that year than usual, with more cast members and locations than usual, and post them online.  If not, I won’t.  The numbers were revised downwards slightly with the goal of making more future video projects per year, [with larger casts] more likely to be feasible over the next half century.

Note that my plan is for 40% of my post tax income to go to making new videos & video games – perhaps 20% as casting budget and 20% as production budget.  Comics and games use the same payment logic for contributing members that videos do.  So if you voice acted or did FMV or simply had your name/resemblance used in a comic book or video game, that is counted as if it were a video.  Then there’s the other 10% or so in residuals… which makes the total 50%.  5% is disposable income focused on entertainment or for allocation in case something else costs more than anticipated.  Another 33% covers core operating costs of the network, like web hosting, and domain renewals, as well as maintaining and expanding the sale product lines on which the revenue depends.  In other words, an ongoing supply of shipping materials, canvas, paints, other bills, etc.  The final 18% is saved up or invested in some way so I have a reserve in case it’s needed later.

The video channel itself, launches in a few weeks.  It won’t contain much initially, and mostly the cast will just be me, but it marks the start of something bigger.

I’ve toyed with the notion of simply bypassing cast members I can’t reach and posting videos anyway [in a space where they have no way to generate revenue of any kind] but it seems there’s no legal benefit to doing so.  I might as well run ads for my services, with the content, and hold the actor’s earnings in a safe place until they finally come out of the ‘woodwork’ and become reachable again – at which point I’ll immediately offer them the money their video earned, hopefully pre-empting the question of ‘why did you release this without my explicit written permission and make money off of it?’

My rule now is as follows:  I will go ahead and post videos over time, even if one or two random people in it are inaccessible and cannot be reached by phone, email, or any other means.  I will tally up all actors’ earnings on every project annually and pay them.  If they are unreachable, I’ll hold that cash in an organized folder or envelope somewhere secure, marked with the actor’s name.  If and when I find them, I will ask them to sign and will pay them.  They may ask for the video or alternately their scene in the video to be pulled – I’ll remind them that it will upset the audience that likes the video and the other actors who did sign, and who do want the content online, but that if they insist the content be pulled, it will be.

What about the signatures?  Legal documents?

I am debating how best to handle that; I like the idea of the digital signature, but the document was way too complicated and long last time and I’m trying to pare it down and make it clearer and leaner for future use.  I’m using eSignGenie for this.

Still reeling and coping with the setbacks

I think in a few days I’ll have the PC operating normally, more or less.

While the Windows OS update was screwing up my plans for a video channel release (previously scheduled for May 10 but now pushed back by two weeks.) I also found a message in my spam folder notifying me that was not set to auto renew and that it was expiring.

Fortunately I got it renewed within the grace period, that brief span between when a domain expires and when it is purchasable by other people.  But for a couple days the site was down and the game was inaccessible.  Sorry about that.

I think things are getting back on track, more or less – I have a few options for getting my PC working again ranging from mild [replacing faulty AMD drivers] to severely annoying [reinstalling the OS] but all of them depend on first backing up everything on the internal drives in case something goes severely wrong and the hardware is basically unrecoverable.  That is unlikely but I’m backing all the content up via command line anyway.  This takes some time, and involves a lot of copying of subdirectories to and from a 128gb flash drive.

The first attempt to acquire signatures from a few cast members failed; I’m now revising the terms and will send out those forms on a person by person basis beginning with an initial set of 40 people or so on May 17.  The terms for cast members are now even more generous, to the point where under some circumstances the video channel might not prove to be viable.  I recognize that if the channel on my website were to take off suddenly with above 500k viewers, and the other stuff – the sale items – don’t grow at a similar pace, the cost to me could be enormous and might cause a systemic failure of my web network.

Why?  Because I’m using sale products as a substitute for conventional third party ad revenue.  Should the sale products disappoint and fall below a certain ratio relative to the video views, the profitability of my websites go down and maybe even go negative.  The threshhold at which this happens was, in the original document, very unlikely to be crossed, but now I think the odds of the video channel losing money are hovering around 25%.  This is something that I can adjust to some degree to improve things if they get bad enough, like:

-writing most upcoming videos with smaller casts of about 3-4 persons instead of sprawling ensembles.

-minimizing location shoots off my property.

-increasing promotion frequency [advertising] of related sale products in the video channel playlists in an attempt to boost revenue on the channel to a tenable level.

-promoting my video channel only subtly and emphasizing the shop on most non video pages.

My hope is that the video channel will raise about as much revenue as it costs, maybe even prove mildly profitable somehow.  That would be amazing, and in my view the effort breaking even is still something of a victory.

Since we’re discussing the shops and sale items, I think it’s a perfect time to point out the stuff I’ve got piled into the Etsy and eBay shops right now.  There’s more there than is usually the case and you should check that out.

I’ve got a bunch of antiquarian magazine issues [I maestri del colore] on sale right now on eBay, substantially undervalued, someone could absolutely buy a lot of 20 and flip them, reselling them as individual listings.  That might actually make you a tidy profit.  But those listings are ending right about now!

My eBay shop

I also have a bunch of my old work on sale on Etsy now.  Lots of stuff.  Batches of old artworks that have been around a few years and haven’t sold locally – but which are now on sale at really great low prices!

My Etsy shop