Saturday, June 13, 2015

What's a Great Idea Worth?

"What a great idea!", is an exclamation I hear daily at #iThinkOutsideMyBox if not many times a day and I immediately return, "If you like this idea, please support us", because in America it's not a great idea unless it makes money. And I don't say that in jest. Because it's true.

Edison may have good ideas, and a lot of them, as he often advised, but he didn't make any money off the ideas themselves. He made money off the products they spawned. The phonograph, the lightbulb, et al. He produced and licensed applications of his ideas, under patent, which made him money. Walt Disney didn't make any money off Mickey Mouse nor Spielberg from E.T. They both made money from the production and distribution of those ideas in film form.

#iTOMB Alex "I Think Outside My Box" (Québec) 10.25.14
Let's take song writing, for instance. If you write a song there are two kinds of ideas at work. The musical notation and the lyrics. Both of these are covered by songwriting copyright but for a writer to be paid, they must have the song 'published' by a music label and sell the song. For each copy of that song, the writer will be paid $0.091 per copy. That's less than 1%. But if a ten song album album sells a million copies, that's $91,000 to the songwriter plus other royalties such as performance and other paid presentation fees if the song is popular.

Taylor Swift, 1989 – 2014
Taylor Swift reaped arguably $125,000 in profits from the sale of 500,000 copies of the song, "Welcome to New York", after expenses. That's a little better than 2%. But she does very well considering her string of hit songs and albums. 2% of that purse is worth a lot more than 10% of a much smaller one. Taylor Swift doesn't get paid more than other writers for her ideas, she just sells more of them.

Quirky Pivot Power
So let's look at a smaller purse. The invention company, Quirky, crowdsources ideas for primarily consumer products. One of their big hits is a flexible electric power strip that accommodates bulky power supply plugs. It's quirky. And its inventor has made roughly $700,000 off his idea in the last few years – but that comes from less than 10% of the profit from the device as the New York Times illustrates. "For its hard work, Quirky takes 90 cents of each dollar of product sales. The other 10 cents is distributed among the inventor community. The person who came up with the product idea typically pockets 4 cents of that. Lesser shares go for contributions like enhancing the idea, choosing the price or coming up with the name".

The iThinkOutsideMyBox gallery
So how much is #iThinkOutsideMyBox worth as an idea? Presents an interesting challenge doesn't it? The idea that anyone can paint and that painting becomes part of an ever evolving global social fabric borne of self expression. Fascinating. People love it at first sight. But what's the product? Experience? Sharing? Communication? Therapy? Architecture? Social Involvement? Or, all of the above – which I believe is probably the best answer. And why do people think it's a great idea, if it's not something that produces a product that can be monetized?

And what is that idea worth to them?

This always brings me to my own question of, "Can #iThinkOutsideMyBox support itself?" – and in turn support me, its creator? At $3,365 a month for an apartment (the average rental in NYC) and living cost beyond? A six-figure salary? COB? Is the idea worth that much? Or more?

Because those are the questions one must ask of oneself when they are told literally every day that they have a "Genius idea" – because, in America, you're not a genius, unless your idea, or other ideas you have, are paying the bills – and lots of them. And so 2015 has become the year we focus on the business of the project and strive to make this a viable, profitable, non-profit.

Currently our income streams are from primarily on-site donations, followed by Print Sales and Special Bookings. We're also seriously competing for Community and Arts Grants. Our job is to dramatically increase the ratio of income from these sources to guarantee our future.

Remember, any image you see on this site can be ordered as a fine art print, or go to our store for the Top 10. The prints are absolutely gorgeous. If you're involved in Entertainment, Non-profit, Education or Corporate Management work, do consider booking us for your event or program. We help solve your business problems creatively. Grant or press recommendations are also welcomed.

Again, I thank you all for the compliments every day, knowing all the while, that the highest compliment we can receive is your support. Because, remember, in America it's not a great idea unless it's profitable

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