We Are All Self-Distributors: Talking Aziz Ansari, VHX, & Indie Game the Movie” with Jamie Wilkinson

Excited for episode #5 of The Influencer Economy, with my guest Jamie Wilkinson. Jamie and I had an awesome chat about media, video , and making stuff on the internet. It was so good, I had to divide up the conversation into two different episodes. The chat is a fascinating glimpse into the world of where the film industry.

Find us on iTunes and find us on Stitcher

Jamie is currently the CEO and co-founder of VHX LINK , a direct distribution platform where creators can sell videos, TV, film and content directly to their fans. They are paving the way for creators to connect with their fans, and empowering a generation of artists to generate revenue around their passions.

In the first episode we chatted about VHX, and and early successful project they worked on with the comedian Aziz Ansari. They helped Aziz distribute his comedy special via the platform, which made six figures of revenue within the first day.

Jamie is also the co-creator of Star Wars Uncut and won a Primetime Emmy – for “Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Media Non-Fiction in 2010. The film is an amazing crowd-sourced re-creation of the original Star Wars film.



In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • How to Aziz Ansari and VHX teamed up for his comedy special
  • How Indie Game The Movie partnered with VHX and created a blueprint for how to self-distribute a film
  • How Camp Takota distributed their movie via their YouTube followings
  • What types of risks filmmakers can take to keep the rights to their film
  • How the future of film is direct communication and collaboration with the film’s audience
  • How to launch a film brand, create a film, and build audience ahead of your film’s release
  • How Star Wars Uncut was created and crowdsourced from the community
  • How one Tweet can change your career path, and how Andy Baio Tweet’ed the Indie Game the Movie filmmakers about VHX and the rest is history
  • That the next generation of filmmaking is fans and creators directly communicating throughout the filmmaking process

Watch Star Wars Un-Cut

Follow @JamieW on Twitter:

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Watch Indie Game the Movie, Camp Takota, Aziz Ansari’s Dangerously Decilicious , and many other films on VHX






“Playing Video Games to Pay Your Bills, Inside Gaming AS a Start-up?” with Bruce Greene and Adam Kovic

“Playing Video Games to Pay Your Bills, Inside Gaming AS a Start-up?” with Bruce Greene and Adam Kovic

We are also on Stitcher and subscribe to us us on iTunes

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Adam Kovic and Bruce Green are the hosts of Machinima’s Inside Gaming. The show reaches 7 million views per month, and has built a loyal and staunch gaming following. I was excited to have these guys on the show, as I have known Adam for years, from my days at Machinima. While I have gotten to know Bruce since he joined Inside Gaming 1.5 years ago.On the show, we talked about Adam’s early days at Machinima, where he did everything from building chairs to editing shows. He eventually became the host of Inside Gaming, a show that has now evolved to a mix between “Mystery Science Theater,” and “The Soup.”

The two of them have great senses of humor and we chatted about their day in and day out work for the show. They are modern day creatives in that they are hosts/editors/producers, and have lots of hyphens in their roles/responsibilities.

To succeed in the gaming/YouTube world, we talked about how you have to have passion, and be dedicated to the brand that you’re working for. We chatted a bit about how Adam went to visit gaming jaugernaut and past guest Burnie Burns of Rooster Teeth, and how that inspires his work for Inside Gaming.

We also talk about their loyal audience, how the show gets produced, and how their fearless leader Joel Rubin keeps them forging ahead at Machinima.

In this video you’ll learn: What it’s like working in the gaming industry. how to get a job in the gaming industry, what it’s like working at a start-up, how to work in the YouTube video world, how to get a job at a YouTube company.

Follow Adam on Twitter: twitter.com/adamkovic Follow Bruce:twitter.com/brucegreene Follow Inside Gaming: twitter.com/insidegaming Find them on YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/InsideGaming

Taryn Southern: “YouTube, Acting, Entrepreneurship, it’s the Future?”

Subcribe:  On Stitcher and iTunes

Taryn Southern epitomizes the modern day actress who is an entrepreneur.  She has created her own path towards an entertainment career in the online media world, which includes a YouTube following of over 400,000 subscribers.  While she has had reoccurring roles on TV shows like “New Girl,” “The League,” and “American Dad.”  We are excited to have her on the show.

Originally from Wichita, KS, Taryn moved to L.A. working with most L.A.-based media online companies.  From MySpace, to Verizon, to eventually YouTube she quickly embraced the digital video world.  As a writer, producer, and actress -she has created her own opportunities.

In 2007, Taryn produced and starred in the first social media integrated original series, Project MyWorld for DirecTVwhere Taryn traveled the world to meet her MySpace friends.  And as a singer, Taryn’ debut comedy album, On My Face, hit #11 on the iTunes Comedy charts.  She is a jack-of-all trades in how she has built her online business.

In 2012, she invested her own money in a YouTube channel, and founded her own production business.  She says the key to YouTube success is not only relying on YouTube for money, but also making your money from opportunities that come from YouTube.


In this podcast, you’ll learn how to build a YouTube based career, how to work as an entrepreneurial actor, how to build a personality-based media company, how to create your own creative career as an actress, and how to produce/act/build your acting career through online media.

She also realizes that the end game isn’t just TV and film.  She can be highly diverse in her media career, while controlling the work that she does.  It’s fascinating to see how she connects directly with her fans online, while working as an actress in 2014.  We’re happy to have her on the show.

Follow Taryn: http://twitter.com/tarynSouthern



We’d love to hear what you think www.influencereconomy.comhttp://twitter.com/ryanjwill and leave a comment or question below.

Shira Lazar of What’s Trending: Media and YouTube Entrepreneur on How to Define Your Own Career


On episode 2 of The Influencer Economy, we were happy to welcome Shira Lazar to the show.  Shira is the founder and host of the Emmy nominated show What’s Trending and an inspiration in the media and YouTube world.  In order to launch her career, she defined her own ‘beat’ as a producer/broadcaster, essentially creating the news category that “bridged the gap between Silicon Valley and celebrity.”

Shira is the essence of a modern day media entrepreneur, and she has creatively and instinctively built What’s Trending to serve over 2 million views a month on YouTube, and 20 million views per month across all their syndicated platforms.  

She interviews people for a living, and her start-up business is inspired by her passion and curiosity around meeting new people. Achieving her success did not come easy, and as an early vlogger helped transform the medium into what it is today. Vlogging was barely a word when she started creating videos. She was an early voice in covering online ‘viral video stars’ for CBS back in 2008, when no one else was speaking to them. She created and identified an emerging market, where people on the internet were become personalities in the news world. Shira pioneered the ‘human interest stories’ beat around interviewing web personalties like ‘The Double Rainbow Guy” or “Antoine Dotson.” These stories are now common place on national news like the Today Show or CBS This Morning, influenced by Shira’s work.

We also dig into the format of What’s Trending, and how she runs the show, books guests, promote the episodes, and interviews her guests. What’s Trending is a modern day media brand, and this podcast is a great listen for anyone passionate about media, or someone who wants to understand what it’s like running a social media start-up enterprise in 2014. Shira is a true pioneer in the influencer economy.

Find us on SoundCloud here and iTunes here

Burnie Burns of Rooster Teeth: Red Vs. Blue, Online Video & YouTube Pioneer

For the inaugural pocast, I was proud and excited to interview Burnie Burns of Rooster Teeth.  Burnie is a pioneer in the  video & production world, he founded Rooster Teeth an online video juggernaut.  We were able to speak with Burnie at great length about the origins of Rooster Teeth and their early hit tentpole series Red vs. Blue.  We chatted about how Red vs. Blue is possibly the largest fan film ever, and is an early and big example of the machinima filmmaking style.  Burnie also gives great advice to emerging video creators and we discuss his perspective on the current YouTube ecosystem.  We even talk about his favorite Austin, Texas BBQ, in addition to hearing his thoughts on how he launched Red vs. Blue launched back in 2003.      Download the podcast on iTunes

Check-out RoosterTeeth.com, follow Burnie on Twitter, and subscribe to the Rooster Teeth YouTube Channel.

Burnie and Ryan at the YouTube L.A. Space during #tubeathon

Burnie and Ryan at the YouTube L.A. Space during #tubeathon

We’d love to hear what you think!  Please leave a comment, find us on Twitter or leave an iTunes review.

Why Content is Eating The World & Why You Need to Start Creating Now


In 2010, venture capitalist, Marc Andreesen wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal stating that:  “software is eating the world.”  Andreesen, an investor in Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and many other consumer facing software companies, proclaimed that we were in “the middle of a dramatic and broad technological and economic shift in which software companies are poised to take over large swathes of the economy.”

Four years later, these software companies are having a dramatic and transformational effect on entrepreneurship and business in the U.S.  Now, “content is eating the world,” and actually content has devoured the world.  If you speak with a high school or college student about their mobile phone lifestyle, they’ll tell you that every moment of their life gets turned into a social object shared in Snapchat, Instagram or Vine.  While a hobby for many, these platforms are flooding the world with creative opportunities for people to launch careers, themselves and products to a global audience.

In order to capture the essence around the influencer economy, you have to understand that social media is in its early to middle stages.  We have not even reached adolescence, if social media were translated to human years.  It’s crazy to consider that it’s only just begun.  Some stats:


100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, with a billion unique viewers visiting the site a month.  Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month –with 80% of that audience outside the U.S.


The Apple iTunes Store eclipsed 1 billion podcast subscriptions across 250,000 unique podcasts.  That’s with a total of 8 million published episodes and in 100 languages!


In 2013, Kickstarter received $480 Million in pledges with 19,911 projects funded. Within both Kickstarter and Indiegogo (the 2nd larger crowdfunding platform), users have created 154,000 total projects over the 4 year history of this nascent industry.  With Kickstarter alone, project makers in 214 countries created projects reaching all 7 continents.

We’re in the middle of a seismic shift towards content around everything that we touch in the physical world.  Whether its user-generated or professional grade content, everything in our house, TV screen or job has a supplemental piece of content around it.

If we want to check-out a new sushi restaurant in West L.A., I search Foursquare tips or Yelp for user-generated content reviews/tips.  If we want to explore a new 4K TV to see if it lives up to the hype, I read tech blogs for CES reviews.  If I want to train myself on Garage Band, Final Cut Pro or learn about how to play Minecraft, I scour YouTube for how-to videos.  The knowledge-based world is right at our fingertips.  Social networks have created a surplus of content, and we’re just in the beginning.

When looking at tech companies stock prices, Yelp ($Yelp) is trading at $90, Facebook ($FB) at $60, and Twitter at $50 $ (TWTR).  They are all content-based networks, based on the user-generated content of billions of users.  In fact Facebook acquired a 30 million registered user content network 2 years ago, when it bought Instagram for $715 million.

The factor that is Amazon ($AMZN) is full of user-generated reviews, and they started as a book seller, which is content.  They new have even built their own premium smart TV app:  Prime.  They’re trading at $360, one of the higher tech stocks.  And Netflix ($NFLX) is at a record high $430 dollars, and they are – you guessed it – a premium content network, that’s disrupted traditional TV and film.

The world has been eaten-up, and it’s only the beginning.  With Whisper, Snapchat, and Secret, networks around creating content are still launching.  If you’re looking for a career or job in the evolving media-landscape, start creating right now.

Photo credit:  Drawception

Why The NBA’s Talent Acqui-Hire of The Basketball Jones is Important

Last week, the artist formerly known as The Basketball Jones announced they’re joining NBA Digital.   If you aren’t an NBA hoops fan, The Starters (as they’re now known as)  have been hosting a podcast for 2006 years and hail from Toronto, Canada.  And they are now colleagues with Emmy-award winners Charles, Kenny and Ernie.   Their name The Basketball Jones  is gone, and they are now called The Starters.  They will be taking their podcasting/video media kingdom to the NBA network.  It’s big news in the sports media world, especially for sports writers/journalists, who have aspirations to go full-time in the sports/media biz.

Their podcast  started with Tas Melas and  J.E. Skeets, talking shop about the NBA, recording at producer Jason Doyle’s house.  And now they are taking their talents to Atlanta, Georgia, home of NBA TV.

When I saw this clever video that announces the The Starters joining NBA TV, it reminded me of some of the videos we made at Machinima.  The video makes fun of The Starters, as no one at NBA TV has really heard of them (a joke), including Charles Barkley who is perplexed by their even existence.  The video feels like it came from the web, just like The Starters.  It lacks the polish of an over-edited TV commercial, looks like it was made based off improvisation, and probably took a total of 15 minutes to shoot.  Ultimately, it shows the intersection of TV and the web, where media outfits like The Starters are now rubbing their Canadian elbows, with the likes of NBA greats on TV.

This trend of content creators/makers joining bigger media companies, is an often under-looked in the media/tech world.  When a site like Bleacher Report is acquired by TBS for $175 Million, it draws attention, some positive, some not as positive.  It gets press because of the dollar amounts involved, and sheer magnitude in visitors that sites like Bleacher Report receive.

When a start-up gets acquired by Facebook, Google or a major tech company, the tech media calls it a talent acqui-hire.  In this case, the NBA pulled-off a talent “acqui-hire,” which is no less important than others in the tech world.

The BBJ did one thing well over a long period of time:  They made cool shit and put it on the internet.

When you look at what TBJ did over the past 7 years, they’ve created their own opportunities from thin air, building a network on top of themselves.  Take a look for yourself.  These are some advanced stats on their success:

  • Produced/edited/hosted/syndicate 1007 podcasts over 7 years
  • At an average of 20 minutes a podcast, that’s 20,140 minutes of content
  • Produced 335 hours of podcasts per year over 7 years.
  • If The Basketball Jones were an hour long TV drama like Breaking Bad, they’d be on season 25 right now (13 episodes a season)
  • Millions of video views on YouTube, #TBJ hashtags on Twitter, and Twitter content

The Starters are a mini-studio.  They are hosting their own shows, running their own digital marketing, technology, and community.  They’ve managed to merge marketing/biz dev/community/user acquisition/content into one entity.  By building social media  fundamentals, their team has been ‘hashtagging for years,’  and obviously they’re a talented group of dudes, but they were hired for many reasons.

They were down at SXSWi earlier in this year and they listed their ‘secret sauce’ for how they became successful.  If you have a minute, it’s worth a listen.

One notable thing to take from their SXSW anecdote is how hard they worked to be consistent.  From their talk when asked to highlight characteristics for their success:

Consistency With The Show

  • Self-discipline of doing it every day
  • Less alcohol (#ajoke)
  • Treat it like a second job
  • Make it a habit for the listeners, make sure it’s daily at noon if people expect it daily at noon
  • Letting audience if there won’t be a show if it’s usually a scheduled thing
  • Challenge yourself, keep trying new things (they did audio, then video, then went with a livestream)
  • Pretend like their boss looking down at you, and keep working
  • Create your own traffic

This is not any different than  what we did at Machinima with Respawn and Inside Gaming.  We had daily, and weekly schedules for all our content.  And we went for it all to challenge ourselves, playing video games 24/7 for months at a time, launching iPhone apps. and creating long-form episodic video content.

TBJ is part of a larger trend.  We’ll see more of these talent acqui-hires in the future, where people are building  content kingdoms.  It’s exciting to see if you’re into content and how social media is evolving into just the word ‘media.’

Full press release for The Starters + NBA Announcement

Here’s the Facebook page for The Starters.  The Starters hosts are on Twitter here:   JE Skeets and Tas Melas

How Social Bartering Helps Improve Your Career

Without even realizing it, we are all bartering.  The social web has turned us into a society of people exchanging goods and services via the web.  It’s nothing new, but it’s all trackable with social media, email, and blogging.  You can keep track of your connections, exchanges, and services with very easily.

We do it because we want to help others.   We all know what it’s like to need help from people, so we’re willing to help others because it makes us feel good.  Some people do it also because we think that favors come back full circle, and helping people helps us in the long run.  There are plenty of reasons.  Yet, through most of the deals, we aren’t charging transactional fees for helping others.  These aren’t transfers from banks, they are person to person deals.

Whether it’s helping a friend from college who is trying to hire a sales team, thus you offer to post the job listing on your Facebook page.  Or it’s you Tweeting that you supported a friend’s Kickstarter campaign, for a film project they are passionately working to get funding for.  Or it’s alpha-testing your friends new software product, helping her find bugs before launch.  It’s back to basics.


In the off-line world, when we build companies, or start-ups, we have to hustle to get the company launched.  Finding new business, launching products, creating content takes time and effort.  When you’re a web designer, and your friend is a marketing pro – you often exchange services to benefit one another. You design your friend’s website, and she does an SEO/social media strategy on your site.  You exchange expertise for expertise.  

Another scenario is when you move to a city like L.A., un-employed.  You reach-out to your 5 FB buddies in Santa Monica, to grab a drink.  Then 2 weeks later one of those friend calls you and say “Hey, I found a job that you’d be perfect for, you should meet my friend who is looking for someone to hire immediately.”  That’s how the world works, and your friends aren’t charging you, they are doing good for you.

Exchanging, bartering, networking, trading, sharing, whatever you call it, it’s what we do.  You don’t pay a fee, and often it comes for free.  It’s the foundation for us to get started in business as an entrepreneurship.  Have you bartered with someone today?

Image credit

What is the influencer economy?

What is the influencer economy?  It’s a movement.  A culture.  A philosophy for how-to navigate the new business world.  At the core, the influencer economy is entrepreneurial spirit and execution.  It’s empowering a new generation of leaders, builders and makers to create successful businesses that previously would have been impossible.

In the modern business world, we are all entrepreneurial.  Social media, widespread internet access, and the availability to build companies more cheaply and efficiently has wreaked havoc on traditional enterprises.   It’s creating new entrepreneurial opportunities for people and it’s empowering a new generation of leaders.

Old industries such as, print, TV, movies, video games, fashion, music, as traditional industries are taking note.  They are adapting to this fast-moving enterprising world.

The influencer economy is Nate Silver writing about advanced stats in sports and politics at the top of his industry, and his FiveThirtyEight site getting acquired by ESPN.  It’s ARKYD Team building a space telescope for the world, selling pre-orders with ‘space selfies’ of your photo in space.  It’s communities like Collage-O-Rama, an art print shop on Etsy that has sold 50,000 prints without a brick and mortar shop.


Nate Silver ARKYD and Collage-O-Rama are part of the influencer economy

We are going through a transformation.  We are experiencing a revolution of a new self-empowered business-people.  All of our industries has been touched by the influencer economy.  All of us that leverage social media for fun or business, have been bitten by it.  We are all experiencing it right before our very eyes, and not even realizing it.  That’s what makes it such a fascinating thing, and such a beautiful thing to be a part of.

What’s even more fascinating is that business people can follow their passions and build on top of them.  Entrepreneurship is about building storefronts on Etsy, creating and monetizing video content your own YouTube channel, and catalyzing verticals that previously never-existed.

And these entrepreneurs aren’t necessarily raising millions from Silicon Valley.  They don’t need to be a cliché and say they’ll be the next $1 Billion Dollar company.  And they don’t need go in debt pounding the pavement, meeting with countless venture capital firms to raise financing.  They are they are building within the influencer economy.

The percentage of adults involved in startups in 2012 hit 13%–a record high since 1999.  Babson College and Baruch College interviewed nearly 6,000 people and there are some amazing stats, per Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM)

Some phenomenal stats are:

  • 13% of U.S. adult population is engaged in entrepreneurship.
  • 34% of these Americans have introduced a new products and service
  • 82% of entrepreneurs are being financed by savings, friends and family (not relying on banks or venture capital)
  • 69% of new businesses in the U.S. start at home-offices.
  • Entrepreneurship, up by more than 20% since 2011 and the highest level recorded in the history of the study

There’s a solid break-down of these stats by Fortune.

The influencer economy is about creating your own opportunities.  It’s about creation, distribution, marketing, business development and building.  It’s about have a vision, executing it, and showcasing your wares to the world.  Passions are no longer just hobbies.  Skills, hustling, and authentic determination are what drives a core of new business around the world.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, or feel free to reach me on Twitter @ryanjwill.

Bloggers turned VC’s: Moneyball For Online Influence

We’re in the middle of a Money Ball movement for digital influence. A few weeks ago I responded to a Tweet: “bloggers are now personal brands who will be running their own businesses.” Then within minutes of my comment, an article by Loic Le Meur’s fell into my stream. A Journalist? A VC? Who Cares. It’s all about influence.

If you didn’t know, MG Seigler was hired by Michael Arrington’s new Crunchfund. Loic breaks down the deal, but I am writing about the why/how of this deal and what it means for blogging & influence. If you’ve read Michael Lewis’s book, or watched the Brad Pitt movie you know the story of the Oakland A’s, and how Billy Beane re-invented the way GM’s think about baseball. A few thoughts about the parallels of Moneyball in relation to the influencer economy:

  • Bloggers are no longer the Oakland A’s. When you think about it, bloggers have been treated like small market clubs for years. They have fought for credibility and for every penny of revenue generated by their websites. Conversely, they’ve flipped journalism upside down, and forced companies like Fox (WSJ) and AOL and to re-evaluated their businesses. Big media companies have been like the Yankees and Red Sox. While bloggers’ influence has been undervalued by the marketplace. Yes, TechCrunch had a nice payout from AOL, and like the Red Sox adapting to the Moneyball era, so too are the big media companies.
  • Sabermetrics: baseball influence as Social media metrics: influence. In Sabermetrics, on base percentage (OBP) and slugging percentage show a player’s influence in a game. This revelation shows that a walk is just as valuable as a hit. This new thinking disrupted 100′s of years of baseball’s pre-conceived evaluations of players. RBI’s, Batting Average and home runs had previously been the gold standard. Similarly, in the influencer economy, Tweets, YouTube data, and blog posts have revolutionized the media game. Think of these stats like a sabermetrics geek would or Billy Beane did with the A’s. On base percentage has value, and so does your view count on YouTube or the amount of quality blog posts that you produce. Bill James’ stats stats re-thought how to evaluate talent of players. Online influence re-thinks how we value the talent of people.
  • Investing in a start-up is like drafting a baseball player. Some players will pan out, others will fail. It’s equally has hard to know which start-up will be the winner. Billy Beane was a five-tool player when he was drafted by the Mets, and that didn’t work out for either party. The same relationship could be made starts-up CEO’s. What metrics do you use to evaluate? Online influence isn’t the whole story, but it’s certainly a metric to consider when investing in a company, finding partners, and hiring. If an influencer can get deal flow, then why not?
  • Now with influence, social media has entered us into the Bill James era. I read Moneyball years ago, and have recently seen the movie. I’m not saying that Arrington is Billy Beane. He’s not Brad Pitt, though might hope he is. Nor is MG the Paul DePodesta of this movement. To view this relationship, as Warner Wolf would say: “let’s go to the video-tape.”

Or in 2011, I say : “let’s go to the (Influencermetrics)” for MG Seigler. (Yes, I just invented that word and you read it correctly) When you think about the amount of content that he’s generated online, it’s mind-blowing. It takes a few minutes to scan the internet to see where he has built up his influence. Think Bill James when analyzing the data.

He produced lots of quality content and diversified it across the web:

  • 20,000 Tweets
  • 43,000 Lists on Twitter
  • 63 posts on September alone on his own blog
  • 68 posts on TechCrunch in August
  • 3.4 Million views on his YouTube channel
  • 100,000 Google Circles
  • VentureBeat/TechCrunch writer for 3 + years
  • Domain expertise in mobile products
  • Attends TechCrunch Disrupt and networks with tech community throughout the year
  • Engages in online debate and evolves with his audience

It doesn’t take a machinine to track his influence. The 5 tool player is no more. Content is king. Bloggers and content creators are building online empires. Most bloggers aren’t VC’s, but there is a trend that VC’s have emerged bloggers. Writing helps build their personal brands, as well build the brands of the companies they invest in. What do you think? Content creators can build full-blow companies. What’s next for bloggers/writers?


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