Having been in the media and entertainment industry for over a decade now, I have always observed a huge gap between freelancers and the realisation of the power they possess.
In an industry where there is no formal model of hiring or a standardised process, the experience of thousands of freelancers has been nightmarish. With talent going to waste because they were not trusted or could not trust anyone, the M&E industry was suffering big time.
To help be a part of a solution, I launched Media Konnect in July 2016 to bridge the gap between freelancers and companies looking to hire creative talent for projects.
According to an NSDC Media Report, the Indian M&E Industry has grown from Rs 821 billion to Rs 918 billion with an overall growth of 12.7%; expected to grow at a 14.2% to reach Rs 1,782 by 2018. So, a lot more talent will be required to meet the need.
If you are a freelance content creator or an independent media professional in India looking for a good quality work, here are five essential things you must get savvy about, before collaborating with a media company or a production house:
Ensuring that you have everything in writing is one rule you should not disobey. Might be a hassle to get it done but, as they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
The media and entertainment industry depends heavily on verbal agreements. The irony is that in the modern day and age where we are still annoyed with the idea of miscommunication based on verbal discussions, it is always advisable to sign a formal/legal document that has been mutually agreed upon by both the parties or any other parties involved.
In the long run, should the need arise, this email communication or a legal document can come to your rescue in case of any dispute or disagreement with the client or vendor? Some types of contracts to consider include royalty, licensing and publishing agreements; copyright and trademark registration and financing agreements.
For instance, if you are a freelancer working for an agency in another city, make sure your contract has every aspect of your commercials and deliverables detailed out.
In one such instance, a freelance writer from Mumbai was working for a magazine based out of Chennai. A few months later, the magazine abruptly shut down overnight. Three months before this fiasco, the publishing house had started delaying the salaries of their employees. After a 100 unanswered calls, letters and e-mails, the freelancer decided to approach the legal system for help, and only then the magazine finally released her payment. But she got lucky. Apart from a few email interactions, there was no signed contract between her and the magazine which became a nightmare for the freelancer. You may read more about contracts here.
Do your research on the market rate for every kind of job in your industry. You could start with a payment term sheet which will include all the terms and conditions.
It is also ideal to add a ‘kill fee’ that would allow you to recover any losses if the production has been called off. A ‘kill fee’ for every stage in a project that is scrapped is ideal.
If you are a freelancer working for an international client, make sure you are aware of the currency you will be paid in and make sure the terms and conditions regarding the international currency do not affect your payment due to currency fluctuation.
Being located in a different country could also mean you will deal with payment delays. So make sure the payment terms are clearly defined including the date when money is to be credited to your account.
Plagiarism is a punishable offence, but many people flout these rules. Copyrighting and trademarking your content is essential to help you protect your work. So, for instance, if you come across a big production house that has created something that is loosely inspired by your lyrics, jingle or script, you have legal safeguards.
No matter how good your work is, you can never negate the power of networking. At times, it can get challenging to balance the two – work and networking.
And with everything growing so rapidly, thanks to technology, networking is not only limited to the same industry anymore. To eliminate this barrier, a global online exchange platform such as Media Konnect helps all talented and like-minded professionals from the Media and Entertainment fraternity to connect and make the networking process much easier.
Events like movie launches, social dinners, master classes are a few you could be a part of to put yourself out there.
Even though you might not be the best social mingler, don’t hesitate to talk to unknown people and after all, that’s how you make your network stronger right?
You are working in one of the most dynamic industries. So, it’s important to keep pace with new technologies and trends, as well as to expand your skill sets. If you don’t find the time, make the time. This last tip will help you have a long and versatile career in this dynamic industry.