Changing mediums for new content


December 17th, 2007

When you read a book and think that it would make a great movie, you’ve determined that it could be put into a different medium and be successful. Sometimes a concept is introduced in the wrong format. A good book might make a great video. An interesting lecture might make a great audio book. Sometimes you don’t have to change the content; just the way it’s presented and delivered.


Michael Nesmith’s first exposure with music and television was while starring in the television show The Monkees. A lifelong musician, he’d always been fascinated with its possibilities in different media. He pioneered the idea of the putting music videos on television and created a show called Pop Clips. The show was sold to Time-Warner where it became the basis for MTV.

Joss Whedon is a third generation Hollywood writer. Although quite successful, some of his success has happened backwards. His movie, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, didn’t get much attention in theatres. When it became a television series it became hugely successful and even created a spin-off. His next project was a science-fiction series. Canceled in the middle of its first season, it seemed doomed like the first appearance of Buffy. The success of Firefly on DVD proved otherwise. Based upon DVD sales and fan response, FOX studios decided to back Whedon on creating a movie around the canceled show.

Sometimes less is more. Exercise videos used to teach whole body workouts. The trend now is videos that specialize in just one area (abs, thighs etc). Just like exercise videos, magic videos used to teach a dozen or more effects. The biggest sellers now are single trick videos that just explain one effect in great detail.

Often bands release singles that are only modestly well received. However, when the song is included in a movie or television soundtrack they end up making more money from those royalties than they do the single or album.

Take a look at content and ask if it would sell better if it were packaged and priced differently. I’ll admit that I like to read comic books. However, I only buy them in graphic novels or compilations. I read way to fast to justify spending five bucks for three minutes of entertainment. Another admission is that I don’t watch television. However, I do buy lots of boxed sets of highly recommended series. I won’t watch it when it’s free, but apparently I’ll spend $60 when it’s for sale.

Gene Simmons of KISS wrote an outrageous, yet interesting book of advice called Sex Money Kiss. I have both the book and the audio book. In my opinion the audio book is a far more entertaining experience. It’s like driving around with your a Jewish uncle that happens to be a rock star giving you advice. Books about motivation often make great audio books for people to play in their cars. When you consider developing content, think about where people might want to use it and what form makes that easy.

Gene Simmons is the master at selling you the same content over and over again. I bought the book, the audio book and a DVD of him giving a lecture on the book. This is nothing new for him. He’s been doing the same thing for years with KISS. They’d sell you the album. They’d sell you a ticket to hear it live. They’d sell you a live album of it being played in concert. They’d sell it to you as a video of a live concert. Years later they’ll sell it to you again in a boxed set!

Here are some questions to ask about content to see if changing its form would help it sell better:

Would this information be better presented live, in print, in audio or video?

Would it be more attractive if it was divided up or grouped together?

Is this something that could be broadcast or is it a direct sale concept?

What would be the preferred way to get this content?

Does this content go best with other content that’s similar but from different creators?

We can break down our system into finding needs within a niche into four actions:

• Make something that you want that doesn’t exist
• Make more of something you want
• Make something you want better
• Make something that’s in a different form

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