Protect Your Art With a ‘Shopping Doc’

14 02 2014

red heart sheildMany years ago I remember the first time I heard a manufacturer say, “I’d like to ‘shop’ your art around and see if we can get some interest from retailers.” Since then I’ve heard it 1000’s of times, as it’s become a very common practice in the art licensing industry.

As the economy hit below the belt, manufacturers needed a way to hedge their bets.  They no longer wanted to create volumes of inventory that might not sell quickly. This saves them up-front manufacturing costs, warehousing space, time, and of course, prevents them from having to ‘eat’ the cost of goods that don’t sell.

On the artist side, it poses some problems.  Manufacturers are now asking for high-resolution art to create sophisticated mock-ups, and to often produce a very small quantity of product in order to make their retail presentations.  If the retailer ‘buys in,’ then you could have yourself a licensing deal, but if not, the art is already in the hands of the manufacturer and you have no deal and few recourses to ever get digital art destroyed.

So without so much as an agreement, how can you be sure that manufacturers are not utilizing your exclusive art to sell larger quantities of products?  Well, I think there are many (and mostly) reputable manufacturers, who wouldn’t consider taking your art without paying for it.  But there is always someone willing to take advantage of the situation.  And it would make you would feel very vulnerable to send final art to someone when you don’t have a formal agreement.

With my lawyer, I created what I call a ‘Shopping Doc.’ It’s a short document that I can use when this type of circumstance occurs.  It all boils down to keeping track of what the manufacturer said they will do, and what you said you will do, just as with any contractual arrangement.  This is just a short letter, in which you give the manufacturer permission to ‘Shop’ your art to retailers with specific restrictions. It is very clear, in that, a manufacturer has only the right to shop

a) specific pieces of art,

b) for a certain amount of time, and

c) to listed retailers.

It also specifies that you retain the rights to your art AND it allows you to choose between whether or not you will continue to show the art to other manufacturers, during that same time period.  For the manufacturer, it does not obligate them in any way to concluding a deal with you.  So if things do go well, then you just move to a deal memo or straight to a licensing contract.

I believe that whether you use this form, or make up your own, it’s the best way to keep track of your art and what the manufacturer is doing.  It also gives you a detailed time frame in which to follow-up and determine how things are going and what the next steps should be. I find that, in general, keeping everyone accountable is really important. Also, deals are more likely to get signed.

Feel free to click here and get your copy of my ‘Shop Doc’ and to adapt it to your own situations.  No legal document is fool-proof, but it does help provide guidelines in which the manufacturer has set responsibilities with your art during the ‘shopping’ period. It also gives you the peace of mind that comes with knowing there is an end to their ‘shopping’ process, which would be enforceable in court if required.

I hope it makes your heart feel a bit more protected today, too.





Two Free Spring Classes (and more) from All Art Licensing

13 02 2014

CREATORSLOGO-2_3-smallIs the snow getting you down?  Join our Free Ask J’net Q&A next week and in March for some ‘hot’ answers to your most pressing art marketing and licensing questions. Below is our Spring line-up of classes, part of the Worldwide Creators’ Intensive series.

Next time my blog will focus on ‘Shopping Docs’…something all art licensors and artists should absolutely know about and use…so stay tuned for an information packed blog tomorrow (and a PDF example).

Meanwhile, share this with your friends and colleagues, peruse the courses and register ASAP to get your questions answered in all the classes!

Ask J’net Q&A

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014 – 12 noon to 1 p.m. PST/3 p.m. – 4 p.m. EST

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 – 12 noon to 1 p.m. PST/3 p.m. – 4 p.m. EST

Price: FREE Register: HERE

This one-hour class is a ‘live’ phone event, where you provide the questions about art, design & character licensing and J’net provides the answers. When registering online, just write your question at the bottom of the form. J’net will answer as many questions as possible during the hour, all you need to do is call in at the specific time to get answers to your questions and learn from others’ questions.

Please note: You will receive your Dial-in number and Access Code for the class the night before the event from All Art Licensing. This is not an 800 number, so your standard long distance fees will apply.

Marketing Your ART, CHARACTERS, DESIGNS and NEW BRANDS Through Trade Shows (Emerging Artist/Beginner Level)

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014—12 noon to 2 p.m. PST/3 p.m.—5 p.m. EST

Price: $60 Register: HERE

This 2-hour course will show you how to market your creativity successfully—whether art, characters, designs or a new brand concept—and enter the $152.2B licensing industry through trade shows and other practical marketing techniques.

This Worldwide Creators’ Intensive, 3-part, class will cover:

Part 1: Licensing and Trade Shows

Part 2: How to Get From ‘Internal Creative Process’ to ‘External Income Generation’

Part 3: How to prepare for and exhibit at a show

Through detailed information and real life examples, J’net will demonstrate clearly how art, designs, characters and new brands are launched into the marketplace. Those who take this course will learn how to determine what they have in terms of a creative product, and whether it could be practical and profitable to exhibit at a trade show.

This class will include a live audio and full PowerPoint presentation. However, if you cannot make the scheduled event time, we will be sending the full class (BOTH the audio and PowerPoint) to all registrants the following day. When you sign up, include any questions you would like answered at the bottom of your registration form and J’net will cover as many as possible during the class.

Please note: You will receive Dial-in number and Access Code for the class the night before the event, as well as a link so you can download the presentation, from All Art Licensing. This is not an 800 number, so your standard long distance fees will apply.

Character Licensing (Emerging Artist/Beginner Level)

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 – 12 noon to 2 p.m. PST/3 p.m. – 5 p.m. EST

Price: $60 Register: HERE

This course is an introduction to character licensing for cartoonists, animators and illustrators. A lot of creators ask: “What can I do with my characters?” This class will show you some very practical and useful answers to this question. In this course, we will explore character licensing from the beginning first steps to the first signed contract. This class will teach you how to design characters to enhance their licensing potential, create exposure, leverage business opportunities, know when you are ready to license products and choose the product categories which are best for your characters. We will also cover the most important things to watch for and avoid. If you are more inclined to create characters, than designs, then this is the right class for you. Your characters make sense to you…now let me help you make sure they will appeal to the broadest possible audience.  With the right industry knowledge and strategic thinking, you can learn how to share them with the world.

This 2-hour class will include a live audio and full PowerPoint presentation. However, if you cannot make the scheduled event time, we will be sending the full class (BOTH the audio and PowerPoint) to all registrants the following day. When you sign up, include any questions you would like answered at the bottom of your registration form and J’net will cover as many as possible during the class.

Please note: You will receive Dial-in number and Access Code for the class the night before the event, as well as a link so you can download the presentation, from All Art Licensing. This is not an 800 number, so your standard long distance fees will apply.





Blog #17

28 11 2011

Manufacturers today want a sure thing.

As the economy has gotten tougher for manufacturers, they have gradually become more and more risk-adverse. They no longer like to produce product, shelve it in the warehouse, hold the stock, and hope it sells. That approach makes them vulnerable since product must ultimately sell to pay for the inventory created on speculation.

Rather than wait for sales from the product produced in the warehouse, manufacturers only spend money to produce product when it’s actually ordered by their retail customer.

This approach has become quite commonplace, though few people talk about it.  A manufacturer might ask, “I’d like to shop your art around. Is that okay?” Or, “Can I take this out to retailers and get some feedback?” Both of these questions mean the same thing: they want to show your art to retailers to try and get “buy-in”—a retail commitment—before they actually sign a licensing deal with you.

What I want you to know is that these scenarios do happen. Don’t be surprised.  Get some kind of agreement in place, if not a contract, at least a ‘shopping doc‘ to clarify what they can and can’t do. You just need a plan for how to deal with this situation, and a way to determine whether it is a good idea for you at the time.  The answer may vary, so be prepared for that as well.  Think about the potential outcomes if the manufacturers are successful ‘shopping’ your art, and if they aren’t.  And what are the potential risks and rewards when manufacturers show your art to retailers without your having a deal commitment.

I am sure many of you have been experiencing this in your art licensing business.  Perhaps you’d like to share your story.  This new way of doing business definitely has its benefits and negatives.





Hi-Res Art – A Cautionary Tale

3 06 2010

Have you ever received a request for high-resolution art in your first meeting with a potential licensee? If so, you are not alone. I have gotten several phone calls from artists who received this type of request and are trying to figure out what to do next.

The request is typically something like this:

“I need high-resolution art (300 dpi or above) in layered files to create presentations for our internal review process (or retail presentations).”

This type of request is highly irregular and puts you in an incredibly vulnerable position. Without some kind of agreement or contract in place, an artist has no legal footing when it comes to inappropriate use.

Furthermore,

1. manufacturers can use 150 dpi art for presentations

2. or you can format the art on templates (ours or those provided by the manufacturer).

Most importantly, if the manufacturer wants your art badly enough they should be willing to sign a ‘shopping doc’ or a contract.

Of course, the fear is that in trying to tie down the details for one of these agreements the manufacturer will get discouraged and tell you to take a hike. In one recent incident, the manufacturer said to the artist in so many words, ”I have hundreds of artists willing to send high-res layered files and they don’t ask me all these questions.”

Not only is this uncalled for, it’s suspicious. This prompted me to call industry colleagues to see if this was the company policy or just an over-ambitious employee. It was the latter of the two. With the right communication between the artist and the manufacturer, the manufacturer actually backed down and took mock-ups of the art.

It’s exciting that things are looking up and more deals are starting to get done, but that doesn’t mean you should let down your guard. Don’t let someone convince you to give up your high-resolution art files until you have an agreement in place.

If you’ve had a similar experience, I’d love to hear about your experience. How have you handled it? What worked? What didn’t?





Eight Ways to Develop Your Licensing Lead List

24 08 2016

Whether your licensing interest is focused on art, brands or characters, it is the effort you put into selling that creates your licensing deals. Your greatest sales are achieved when you have a thorough understanding your product (what it is you are trying to license), so that you are able to connect directly to the right audience (most often a manufacturer, retailer or media).

If you are new to licensing, what you first want to do is organize your list of potential product categories and then prioritize them. For your reference, here is a list of product categories and their percentage of licensed merchandise retail sales in the U.S./Canada in 2015, as reported by The Licensing Letter.

SOURCE: THE LICENSING LETTER

SOURCE: THE LICENSING LETTER

Once you have developed a good strategy for your property, in terms of product categories, it will be much easier to direct the growth of your lead list. When looking for prospective manufacturers, there are many opportunities to find them and do research before including them on your list. The more targeted you are in creating your leads, the more manufacturers will respond positively to the opportunities you present.

I hear from manufacturers, over and over again, their number one complaint is that they receive too many presentations that are not relevant to their specific business needs. Do yourself, and the manufacturers you are seeking, a favor by doing your research and targeting your offerings to their business. They will appreciate and recognize your focus, and you will progress faster.

Remember that lead lists are organic in nature; they increase and decrease, again and again, over time. A list of 30 companies may grow to 100, then reduce to 40 leads, as you determine that some of the companies are not, in fact, a match.

Here are eight ways to help you develop your own licensing lead list. Some of them require an investment and others are free, except for your time and effort.

1. Trade Shows — Trade events and their directories exist in every product categories. If you attend a trade show, make sure you bring home the directory or you can ask friends to bring you a copy of the directory from the shows they attend. Sometimes you can even find exhibitor lists, before and after their annual events, on the association and exposition web sites.

Just to see what is out there, I searched the Internet for some of the most popular trade shows in product categories that are important to licensed artists. Within five minutes I found a PDF titled, ‘Exhibitors for the 2016 International Home + Housewares Show.’ This 35-page document included company names, contact information, address, and phone and fax numbers. Needless to say, if you are willing to spend the time, there are always inexpensive ways to get the information you need.

2. Trade Magazines — As you read trade magazines associated with the product categories that you have chosen to target, check out the companies that seem to be a good fit for you and your art, designs, illustrations, brand or characters. Always make notes about their product lines, employees, contact information and licensing deals, so you have the details handy when you are ready to contact them.

3. Shopping — Spend time shopping in retail stores and outlets for the products you want to license. This will be time well spent as you explore manufacturers that are already doing licensing. You will probably also see ‘private label’ products with art and characters; these are the products that don’t readily identify the manufacturer on the product itself. These D-T-R, or Direct-to-Retail, products are often branded under the retail establishment’s label (i.e. Target’s or Walmart’s instore brands) and it may be difficult to find out who manufactured them. There are more and more of these D-T-R’s deals being done every day as stores work harder to have unique product in stores. To identify these manufacturers, it may require a licensing industry agent, retail expert or a professionally compiled lead list.

4. Use the Internet — The Internet continues to be the primary source for researching manufacturers. Although, these days, larger companies are less likely to list their phone numbers and email addresses on their websites, you can still often find the information you want with a little extra effort. And when you get frustrated, just think about how we used to do it before the Internet. I also recommend connecting on LinkedIn with the executives you are trying to reach. Most professionals will consider ‘linking’ to you, since you are in the business, and then you can start a conversation.

5. Networking — Again, thank goodness for the Internet and social media! Now you can talk to other licensed artists and creators through the many specialized social groups on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, as well as at industry events and trade shows. Networking can become a primary source of ideas and leads. If you are open about sharing your connections, then others will do the same.

6. Ask for Recommendations — If a manufacturer doesn’t think you are a good fit for them, ask them what manufacturers they would recommend you talk to (and get the contact information). This is a really overlooked technique that allows you to tap into the brainpower of the manufacturers who know the business best. If you were thoughtful in your presentation, and had relevant reasons why you felt they would be interested, then you didn’t waste their time and the manufacturer may be very open to sharing their thoughts about other licensing partner options.

If you are short on time and have the money to invest, you may want to consider one of the following licensing industry directories.

7. EPM Communications — The Licensing Letter Sourcebook is annually updated to include licensing decision-makers from manufacturing companies, as well as properties, agents, attorneys and consultants. So while it is not an inexpensive resource, and you may use only a fraction of the information, I have found it to be the most reliable in the licensing industry. In the long run, it will save you valuable time and money in getting names, phone numbers and email addresses.

EPM has just announced that their updated 2016 Sourcebook is available. It includes the contact information for more 7,400 licensing professionals worldwide, 2,000 licensors, 3,600 manufacturers, 1,000 licensing agents and 730 attorneys and industry consultants. If you want more information you can contact Randy Cochran at randy@plainlanguagemedia.com and here is a link for more details.

8. Total Guide to the Licensing World — There is a new, less expensive, online database which will be available in October. According to Joanna Cassidy from Total Licensing, their database will include over 2,600 licensees/manufacturers. This is a worldwide licensing industry database with contacts in more than 90 countries, but approximately 30% of the contacts are in the United States. The annual subscription cost will be just under $200 for full access to the Total Guide Guide to the Licensing World. The directory includes 125 word listings, plus all contact information and social media links. If you are interesting in being included in the dirtectory you can email joanna@totallicensing.com or click here for more details.

There are quite a few options for building your lead lists. It really boils down to whether or not you want to spend your time, money or both. I can’t emphasize enough that even having a terrific lead list isn’t enough to get you deals; you have to finely target your list, learn from the manufacturer responses, continually update your list and last, but not least, spend time actually sending the presentations out and following up!








%d bloggers like this: