There has been a long standing discussion about whether “licensing” is an industry or is it simply a business model for an intellectual property, or IP, owner to make their product or process available to the marketplace and hopefully generate revenue. This is the “license-out” model that we are all familiar with, where someone other than the IP creator has the ability (and desire) to commercialize the property and shares a percentage of sales with the IP owner. Now we could go on for days discussing the minutiae of this, from what rights can or should be granted, manufacturing, marketing and level of retail details, timing, terms, infringement and indemnifications, and on and on….
However, I suspect about now a lot of you are reading “blah, blah, blah” and wondering why you should care. The point I am coming around to here is that if, as I believe, licensing is a business model, then it makes sense that you as an artist – by necessity – will need to consider yourself a “business”. And how do you do that? Treat it like any other business that you may start. Read magazines such as Inc. and Fast Company, subscribe to trade journals, the EPM Licensing Letter, gift mags, Greetings Etc., maybe some trend reports. Sign up for all the E-newsletters you can find that have relevance to your desired career path. You should spend hours researching markets and manufacturers. Never pass a product in a store without picking it up to see who made it, how they made it and who is decorating it (store clerks often cautiously ask if we ‘need help’ as we do that…). Become an information sponge.
Sound like work? It most definitely is – but you are trying to add a new level of awareness that will help you recognize opportunities and at the same time make you a more valuable resource for your clients. You want your message to change from “here is a pretty snowman” to “here is what I can do to help you sell more stuff”. And if you can make the transition, eventually that is exactly what happens – you sell more stuff.