THE BLOG
07/24/2013 06:18 pm ET | Updated Sep 23, 2013

Talent Has a New House to Call Home

Branded entertainment built the television industry in the 20th century. By attaching their brand messages to unknowns from the radio and vaudeville, the seamless integration of branded content built a new generation of talent whose fame and fortune ultimately surpassed that of the stars of the silver screen. The promise of the 21st century was that brands would build the online space into a new and improved version of television. While that has materialized to a significant degree, the focus of everybody's energy seems to be about taking the biggest names in entertainment from the rosters of the top three talent agencies and rebranding the talent as brand spokespersons. How's that working so far? Depends on who you ask.

Brands don't become part of the cultural conversation unless they have really good content. But sharing is caring and the key to a brand's success is to combine great content with the best demographically appropriate influencers who can share their story and drive others to do the same. While history has shown that rock stars, actors and sports champions can become influencers, the Millennials have thrown a rock into the machine. These youngsters like to discover new heroes and influencers from among their own ranks. In an attempt to ride this new trend, the top three talent agencies have gone in search of rough, new talent. How's that working out? Ask the hundreds of fresh new faces who were signed to agency contracts, reshaped, packaged and then dumped by the agencies when everything that was fresh and original about them had been deleted and they failed at their impossible mission.

Creative talent is the source of all good content. Millennials don't care if that talent is represented by a powerful agency or tucked away in an anonymous loft in a small town. They are only concerned with the fruit of that talent and how it makes them feel about themselves and about the world around them. An additional generational affinity involves the process of searching through options and mining for the talent they can then discover and promote. The harder they have to look, the more they seem to enjoy the prize of discovery. Until a few years ago, there was no central location where this opportunity was available. Then Talenthouse burst onto the scene with a simple yet impossible goal to empower the artists who work in film, fashion, music, art/design and photography.

Talenthouse is designed to create relationships between talent and the brands that can sponsor their creative efforts. Built around a social networking platform, it enables brands to offer creative opportunities to the entire artistic community in a dedicated forum. The artists can then post their efforts in that forum, where they can be voted up or down by the audience. This enables the artists to understand how their work is being received. It also creates an opportunity for the artist to build communities of their fans who can support their work and share it with others who may also become fans.

Talenthouse may be one of the more addicting sites online today. Pinterest enables the viewer to wander endlessly among visual delights, but it's an effort to discover the original source of the posting -- and disappointing to often learn that the source is a professional publication. On the other hand, Talenthouse is driven by a sense that there is an actual human being attached to the other end of the artwork. You know exactly who created a work of art and you can immediately see other works by that artist. This combination of immediacy and emotional connection to the source of a work has enabled Talenthouse to earn 2.2 million members, with approximately 100,000 more joining every month. In Q2 of this year, the number leaped to 600,000 new members. At last count, the site contained 28 million pieces of original art.

Founder and President Amos Pizzey believes that "to be creative is to directly affect universal intention," adding that "We are what we've made ourselves and what we've worked on." He began his creative journey in the London music scene from the late 80s through the 90s, eventually seguing into advertising. Ultimately, Pizzey and his team have opened the world of branded entertainment up to the great masses of artists around the world. Yet, he remains humble in his belief that "all we've done is take the idea of collaboration and put it online." Investor and CEO Roman Scharf points out that Talenthouse "makes dream come true every week" by enabling unknown artists to find paying assignments through their work. Prior to Talenthouse, Scharf founded four software companies. Yet, it quickly becomes apparent that there is an added reward to building a company that -- at its most basic core elements -- supports the arts.

Talenthouse has opened its technology to enable artists to post their portfolios so that they can be discovered. At the same time, brands buy advertising space around that portfolio becoming a 21st century version of an art patron. The artists retain all rights to their work -- unless they win a competition. In that case, the brand purchases the rights to that piece of work. Currently, Pizzey and Scharf agree that their biggest problem comes from the fact that their company doesn't fit into a specific box. But if you ask any artist, they'll most likely tell you that no real art ever fits into a box.

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