Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Maintaining Perspective and Setting Achievable Goals

Learning means experiencing quite a few "fails".  When you are self-employed and self-publish, the internet is always there to help you but it doesn't necessarily mean you make the right decision every time.  You just have to accept the outcome and try a different tack for the next project.

Our Case Study


Our first CD of children's music was produced in 2001.  The Itinerant Poet and his brother (a professional musician and music producer) turned the most popular poems into songs.  The resulting album was a great success and we sold over 2000 copies in 5 years mostly through direct sales to schools.  In 2010, we started on a new album - "Do the Dinosaurus".  It took two years to make and even has a music video on YouTube to promote it.  Click on the highlighted text above or the picture and see for yourself.


Hundreds of teachers had expressed their wish to buy a copy once it was released.  We were on a high and idly imagining a financial success.  Then reality struck: the teachers didn't buy, the video didn't go viral, the CDs didn't fly out of the door - they trickled. What went wrong?

Our major mistake was not to realise the truly massive change in listening habits in the ten years between the albums.  People had moved away from physical media to digital media far more than we thought.  We made digital versions available on the internet but people also preferred not to buy many albums that way either.  Even direct sales in schools were nowhere near what they had been in the early years of the first album. 

The lesson learned?  Be realistic and try to not to get carried away.  The fact that you are working your socks off to make a quality product doesn't mean it is bound to succeed. 

That's it for albums for us - we will switch to basic videos of the Itinerant Poet performing his most popular works on the YouTube Channel and forget about making a fortune - it's all about entertainment these days!

Knock-on Effect


One unfortunate consequence of the slow sales, is that it has affected the charity project we are supporting with the proceeds.  For many years, we have always wanted to provide clean drinking water for an African community.

We met Rob Scammell in 2011.  He had set up two charity shops in our town to raise money for the Kitale Orphan School in Uganda founded by himself and a friend.  We discovered that our dream could be realised at the school because the labour for the project could be supplied for free by the on-site maintenance team.  Our target was an achievable £600.  We were thrilled.  We reached our goal in March this year.

The Disaster


Everyone was very excited both in the UK and at the school.  Work could start as soon as the survey had taken place.  We then received a huge blow.  The survey revealed that the borehole would have to pass through 60 feet of rock to reach the water source, not through earth.  The estimate has rocketed to £4,500 to pay for the machinery needed to dig.  Though we could put the £600 raised into other projects at the school, we feel that clean, fresh water on site is important in so many ways and do not want to give up without trying for the big one.

So this week sees me trying another project for the first ever time and willing it to succeed - the Big Media Pitch.  The motivation is financial but none of it comes to us - ALL of the proceeds now go to the Kitale Borehole Project.  So, if you are reading this and want to support it - BUY A CD as a present for a child, grandchild, nephew, niece, neighbour... it's great music and you won't regret it.  Play before you buy. 

Message from the Frontline


Finally, here are some pictures and words on the importance of the borehole, directly from the manager at Kitale Orphan School:

“Kitale community school is located in an area endowed with sufficient amount of rainfall. However, availability of water for domestic use is a big problem for the kids and the community.
 
The girls and boys walk 2kms daily to get untreated water from stagnant well/pool (Ndodoli) this directly impacts on education of student population; hygiene, sanitation and increased water borne illness. Water scarcity continues to be burden regardless of the season dry/wet. Given an opportunity for a borehole kids will be able to stay in class/school instead of spending their time walking long distance to fetch water. This will also enable then gain access to natural underground water supply thus reduce on water born illness. It costs 
18M shillings to construct a 
borehole at school. Thanks”