Al McWilliams: Trusted Filters

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Al discusses how Quack ensures that artists get paid for the work they do.

In this 9 minute segment (download iPod compatible, 47MB), Al McWilliams, Master of the Universe at Quack Media describes his role in making the business end of his small media conglomerate work. Al remarks that all entertainment media (e.g., publishing, video, and music) are "smashing together". This convergence is visible in retail and appears to be the motivator in large conglomerates like Time Warner with whom Al does business. However, the issue with large conglomerates is that the individual units do not always coordinate well.

As for Quack, it started by doing educational videos targeted at high school students. Now, he is moving on to the Internet doing videos for the online version of the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. However, Al is unconvinced of Internet business models. Entertainment companies are putting in more money than they are getting out, and advertising revenues are adequate for only a few focused niches. There is a great mass of mediocre content.

Al believes that ultimately media, be it traditional or on the Internet, has to rely on trusted filters to separate the wheat from the chaff. In future segments, he will discuss how he is positioning Quack to be one of those trusted filters.

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Al McWilliams has collected all of the componets of his media business and is now driving toward execution. Read More

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Dan McDougal on November 17, 2007 4:19 PM
Al McWilliams: Trusted Filters Al McWilliams is the founder of Quack Media. Al comes from a family that has a background in retail. His father ran retail businesses. Al emphasis’s that the major branches of media are all coming together. Publishing, TV, film, and music are all coming together. This is evident in things such as Borders Books and Music, and big conglomerates like Time Warner. Quack Media started out making educational videos. In the beginning there were three people working at Quack Media; Al, a writer, and a project manager. Al currently does most of the sales work and most of the record label work. The educational video portion of Quack Media has a reach of about 2 million people. Quack Media has made over 50 educational videos and has basically run out of topics. Their work with Time Warner is hard to track but Al figures that it reaches about 500,000 people. Al believes that the internet is a fad and advertising on the internet only works in very small niche areas. He states that people are pumping way more money into the internet then they are getting out of it. He says that there needs to be trusted filters to filter out all the crap that is on the internet. Dan McDougal
Al McWilliams’s Quack Media is a small internet based media conglomerate. On their website, they host work by small artists like music and films, and also generates content for such sites as Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” website. McWilliams started his enterprise by working to make educational films for his father’s company. This is where Quack Media first established its reputation. As they had more and more accepted work, they were able to do business with larger firms like AOLTimeWarner, the parent company of Cartoon Network. Al McWilliams describes the internet and doing business on it as a “fad”. He says that it is basically another gold rush, with new and advancing technology enabling entrepreneurs to make money off of it at rapid and diverse levels. While many though that the “burst of the dot com bubble” hurt the ability to create revenue from the internet, McWilliams says that the ways to do it are just changing again. McWilliams describes technology and services he provides as being to separate out the boring elements of the internet, and allowing artists to generate money from their work online effectively. McWilliams also describes advertising on the web as only being effective in certain niches of the web. Quack Media hopes to only get the best out of the “middle ground” of the World Wide Web. I believe Quack Media has an effective focus to their business model. The opinion base of the filters may seem arbitrary, but could prove effective for such outlets as “Adult Swim”, which caters to a certain niche of entertainment. On Quack Media’s site, there are ways listed to have them review and possibly accept content for publication. This shows that they are still striving to find fresh and innovative content to produce. This also shows Quack Media’s willingness to adapt and change to media tastes of their audiences. Nick Orr
Allie Gerlach on November 20, 2007 12:11 AM
Dear Mr. Al Mcilliams After listing to interview on Michigan Innovators and really support what you had to say on adverting on the internet. Being a frequent internet user myself I do not really see the point in advertising for most companies this way. It is mostly a waste of money since most companies pump so much money into the interment and not other forms of advertisement. Coming from an artistic background myself I see how difficult it can be for most unique companies to even get recognized on the internet. Since there is no one to trust on the internet you cannot advertise in a unique manner since most internet user my just see this as a con and just ignore it. Since it seems that companies do not and will not work together in advertisement, when you were talking about Warner music and Warner films, then how would an internet user be able to trust a company as big as that when they cannot even work together? Another aspect of your interview that I found very compelling is the fact of different artistic forms combining together. For the past four years I have been working towards a degree in Arts Management from Eastern Michigan University. With so much time spent in a theatre I decided to branch out and start getting into other forms of art. Working in an Art Gallery right on Eastern campus has made me realize how the visual arts students and the theatrical students really stay in their own worlds. No one ever really combines into another. When I brought up the idea of having a mini gallery in the theatre building the looks on people’s faces was all I needs. No way was one art department going to combine with another art department. I struggle just like you in not understanding how one art form is not willing to combine with another in order to become better and strong. So I would just like to thank you for creating a company such as Quack and realizing other opportunists in advertisements and other forms of art. Good luck in your future endeavors’. Sincerely Allie Keely Gerlach
Richard Higgins on November 20, 2007 11:15 AM
Dear Mr. Al Mcilliams, Its nice to see young entrepreneurs being successful in this struggling Michigan economy. Being a graphic design major at Eastern Michigan University I find it reliving to know that there are jobs out there for artist coming out of school such as Quack Media. Also that companies like Quack Media are out there to fight for the rights, and bring together artist from all sorts of mediums. I find that on campus depending on what your major is seems to be the group of people you talk with in other class. There does not seem to be all that much intermixing between majors of different mediums, I really am not sure why this is so as art is art, and inspiration can come from any ware, being around creative people helps so much with new ideas. It is very hard for me to understand why artist do not mix with each other, as once we are out in the real world we will need each other for support, but it just seems, the paint brush will not mix with the key board. I find what you said on advertising on the internet to be dead on. As I am a graphic designer I understand how hard it is for one bit of information to make any sort of meaning against the billions of good and bad pieces floating on the cyber waves. Its hard to make ones work stand out, and with all the money that is throwing into advertising on the internet, its hard to wonder if any one could do it. However, with out the dollars being spent on internet advertising I would not need my major. The other problem is the scams that are on the internet giving internet advertising a bad name, with companies like yours its nice to see someone trying to make a good name for them self that can be trusted. I found your talk on how Warner music and Warner films not being able to work together insight full, as it should what happens if a company grows to big without a proper communication chain in place. Being owned by the same company gives both of the a big advantage as they can each take part in the others projects, promoting what is up and coming for the other one. So again thank you for the hard work putting together a place to bring the arts together and stand up for there rights. Yours in the cause of the art world, Richard Higgins
Richard Higgins on November 20, 2007 11:19 AM
Dear Mr. Al Mcilliams Its nice to see young entrepreneurs being successful in this struggling Michigan economy. Being a graphic design major at Eastern Michigan University I find it reliving to know that there are jobs out there for artist coming out of school such as Quack Media. Also that companies like Quack Media are out there to fight for the rights, and bring together artist from all sorts of mediums. I find that on campus depending on what your major is seems to be the group of people you talk with in other class. There does not seem to be all that much intermixing between majors of different mediums, I really am not sure why this is so as art is art, and inspiration can come from any ware, being around creative people helps so much with new ideas. It is very hard for me to understand why artist do not mix with each other, as once we are out in the real world we will need each other for support, but it just seems, the paint brush will not mix with the key board. I find what you said on advertising on the internet to be dead on. As I am a graphic designer I understand how hard it is for one bit of information to make any sort of meaning against the billions of good and bad pieces floating on the cyber waves. Its hard to make ones work stand out, and with all the money that is throwing into advertising on the internet, its hard to wonder if any one could do it. However, with out the dollars being spent on internet advertising I would not need my major. The other problem is the scams that are on the internet giving internet advertising a bad name, with companies like yours its nice to see someone trying to make a good name for them self that can be trusted. I found your talk on how Warner music and Warner films not being able to work together insight full, as it should what happens if a company grows to big without a proper communication chain in place. Being owned by the same company gives both of the a big advantage as they can each take part in the others projects, promoting what is up and coming for the other one. So again thank you for the hard work putting together a place to bring the arts together and stand up for there rights. Yours in the cause of the art world, Richard Higgins
TeAnna Hart on November 20, 2007 5:39 PM
Al McWilliams makes a great point, the internet is just a fad right now. If someone creates something else as big as the world wide web and it works for one person, then another and another, people will jump to that means of advertising. The point is people are in competition and are going to do what is necessary to stay up with the competition in the market they are in. He also makes a good point about how Warner Brothers Music and Warner Brothers Movies are affiliated in a conglomerate set up but do not affiliate with one another. The name may tie them together and generate more businesses but what needs to be done to make them work well with one another? Does the internet really serve the purpose. A lot of money and efforts get wasted on advertising, especially when it does not generate the business you were hoping it would. Sometimes it may just be association that may get you to where you need to be.

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