* indicates required
Okayplayer News

To continue reading

Create a free account or sign in to unlock more free articles.

By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy

Is P Diddy's Free Content Model for Revolt TV bad business?
Is P Diddy's Free Content Model for Revolt TV bad business?

The Business: Is P. Diddy's "Free Content" Model For Revolt TV Bad Business?

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.

With all the buzz around Sean "Diddy" Comb’s recently-launched Revolt TV, the new company which pegs itself (per its twitter heading) as P. Diddy's "1st multi-platform TV Network," I’ve had a slew of people ask me if they think that the creation and launch of Revolt is “good” or “bad” for would-be contributors to their platform via Revolt's “crowd-sourced” model to obtaining content.  The trouble I’ve encountered with crafting a good response to that question, is that I think the question in and of itself is flawed to begin with.

Not to get on a Rumi-Osho-Confucious-like high horse (Ok, I lied, it looks like I’ll have to briefly jump on that horse to quickly illustrate my point), but few things in life are completely “good” or completely “bad.”  Most things in life have an inherent duality of both “good” and “bad “ qualities. For example, I absolutely think that having a triple-scoop chocolate-hazlenut ice cream dessert is a "good" way to end a nice meal, but I also think that the cavities, fat/calories, and diabetes-inducing nutritional content to said desert is equally "bad." When you are scrutinizing a new and nuanced development in the wild wild west we now know as the entertainment industry, the inescapable duality in all things rings even louder.

Yes, there are some aspects of Revolt TV’s crowd-sourced approach that some people might be rightly concerned about, but there are equally some pretty brilliant aspects behind Revolt too.  It's been reported that Revolt is seemingly taking a page from the Current TV format of programming where content will  be “crowd-sourced.” Under a crowd-sourced approach, anyone can currently apply to be a part of the Revolt TV “movement” as a producer, on-air talent, reporter, curator, social-media personality, graphic artists, or videographer. However, upon submitting your application to Revolt Tv, the Revolt TV terms indicate, among other things, that you also grant Revolt, cost-free/royalty-free rights to your work, Specifically:

the non-exclusive, unrestricted, unconditional, unlimited, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, and cost-free right and license to use, copy, record, distribute, reproduce, disclose, sell, re-sell, sublicense (through multiple levels), display, publicly perform, transmit, publish, broadcast, translate, make derivative works of, and otherwise use and exploit in any manner whatsoever, all or any portion of your User-Generated Content (and derivative works thereof), for any purpose whatsoever in all formats, on or through any means or medium now known or hereafter developed, and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed, and to advertise, market, and promote the same…”

In all honesty, as a lawyer in the entertainment business, language like this doesn't really surprise me that much. I’ve  come across language similar to this pretty frequently in the fine print behind various media contests and sweepstakes. It's also not uncommon for production companies (just about anywhere) to require that a "submission release" be provided to them before a writer behind a TV treatment can pitch them on a new show, which essentially forecloses the ability of the pitching writer to sue to a production house for money or rights if the producer ends up using the treatment in part or as a whole. While these practices may seem drastic and unreasonable to the layperson, as a lawyer I suppose I’ve grown numb to the realities of the entertainment world. The rules of the entertainment game come with risks. Some people win, many people lose, but you can always sit the entertainment game out if you're not feeling the stakes...or take inspiration to create your own game in the entertainment world, in whatever form that may be.

Though I can clearly see why many people may view Revolt’s “crowd-sourcing” model as unfair, the terms nonetheless provide a meaningful opportunity for content producers and personalities to potentially find  wide-range exposure and acclaim on the Revolt TV Platform. Whether you have reason to rejoice or revolt about  Revolt TV ultimately depends on what you personally value more – opportunity for your work, or ownership and compensation of your work.

On the one hand, you may have a potential content owner/creator that wants to own and control the rights to their work, and  be compensated for their creation from Revolt, particularly when Revolt can  theoretically stand to make millions off their ownership of your content--with zero obligation to pay you. On the other hand, you may have a potential content owner who hasn’t had the right opportunity yet to expose their rights and talents, and the potential exposure on Revolt, despite the Revolt terms and lack of pay, makes the experience worth it. While Revolt Tv is only in an infant stage of it’s launch, I’m pretty sure there’s going to be at least one, if not several success stories of content creators that launched careers from Revolt, and I’m pretty sure these content creators will have plenty of other opportunities beyond Revolt to make future business deals behind their creativity more on their terms.


Is P Diddy's Free Content Model for Revolt TV bad business?

From a business standpoint, the world has watched Diddy  significantly grow a string of entertainment powerhouses over the course of his career - Uptown Records, Bad Boy Entertainment, Sean Jean, Ciroc, and more. In fact, earlier this year Forbes Magazine named Diddy hip hop's wealthiest artist with an estimated net worth of US$ 580 million, and it has also been reported that Diddy just donated US $250,000 to  young entrepreneurs. As a colleague in the OKP office pointed out--when we were discussing the Revolt TV launch and the backlash that the business model has received in some media outlets--rather poignantly "Diddy seems to be sending the message that young entrepreneurs are valuable. Young creatives, not so much."

I'm not sure if Diddy is giving that message or not. I certainly don't want to live in a world where creativity isn't strongly valued - particularly when the creativity in question touches on music (which has been my biggest personal creative inspiration and love). However, it's hard for me to ignore how increasingly valuable it is for creatives to have entrepreneurial skills that rival their creative skills. We live in a world where Spike Lee and Bjørk are on kickstarter.  Louis C.K. bypassed the big name cable networks by producing his own stand-up show to sell directly online and made 1 million dollars in $US 1 million in 10 days. I like to think we’re really in the age of the artist-preneur.

As for Diddy, the one message I do think he is giving rather clearly, is simply that times are changing... and if you want to change with him as a Revolt content provider, just know going into it that the benefits you may stand to receive won't be all “about the Benjamin$.”


...and now for someLegal Disclaimer Stuff:

The views presented are the views of Mita Carriman Esq., an entertainment attorney based in NY.

This article does not replace or constitute legal advice of any kind, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. You are advised to directly seek the help of a licensed attorney to help you with your unique and specific situation.

 You can also follow Mita on twitter at @NYmusiclawyer ...because it’s her shameful plug.