I read an investment book once that contained the following advice: When it comes to money, be an owner, not a loaner.
Being an owner in that case meant owning a home versus renting, or owning stocks versus loaning a bank money in the form of a Certificate of Deposit, etc. Good advice, I think. Especially when it comes to the ownership of creative content. Those who own what they create can live off the proceeds for years. And those who don’t? Well, anyone who ever watched VH-1’s Behind The Music knows that it’s often the publishing deals and songwriting credits that make the difference between having a lifelong music career or having to go to work for your brother-in-law’s pest control company after the band breaks up.
Ownership is also the reason DVDs of TV shows often don’t include songs by famous artists that aired in the original show. And why fans of the radio-station comedy WKRP in Cincinnati may never see DVDs of the show released at all. As reported by Wired, “For many TV shows, costs to license the original music for DVD are prohibitively high, so rights owners replace the music with cheaper tunes, much to the irritation of avid fans. And some shows, like WKRP , which is full of music, will probably never make it to DVD because of high licensing costs.”
You don’t have to tell most ad creatives about the value of ownership. We sign away all rights to it the first day on the job as a condition of employment. (Which reminds me: Anyone know why practically everyone else in the creative arena (screenwriters, musicians, actors, directors) seems to have a guild or a union protecting their ownership interests (and a lot of other interests), while ad creatives don’t?) Imagine how much different your world would be if you owned even a fraction of the success your ideas bring to your clients or your employer. Sure beats the hell out of some lame profit sharing plan you won’t even be fully vested in for another 7 years. (And I’m sure you’ll be at your current job at least that long, right?) Nope. Don’t know about you, but I’ll take ownership over being owned any day of the damn week.