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About The Guest
Sophie Watts is the CEO of a global venture creation company that invests in and creates globally-recognized businesses for celebrities across premium content, consumer products, and live experiences. Early ventures include Mike Tyson’s Legends Only League, a sports league created as a partnership with legendary boxer and cultural icon Mike Tyson.
Watts was formerly the founding President of STX Entertainment, playing an instrumental role in its formation and growth for nearly 8 years alongside co-founder Robert Simonds. During her tenure, STX grew from a start-up into a multi-billion dollar media company that includes several studios, securing capital from investors including private equity firms TPG and China-based Hony Capital; Tencent, the Chinese internet giant; Liberty Global, the media conglomerate; and PCCW, the global telecommunications provider. STX recently merged with Eros International, the Indian media conglomerate.
Watts has been named one of Hollywood’s Top Dealmakers by Variety, was described as “one of the 500 most influential business leaders shaping entertainment,” has been listed in Fortune magazine’s 40 under 40, and was featured in both Variety’s Power of Women report and Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment Power 100. She has been recognized by the National Diversity Council as one of the “Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Entertainment,” and described as one of Hollywood’s “next-to-know…heavy hitters” by ELLE Magazine.
- 00:00 — Intro
- 04:49 — Sophie Watts’ origin story
- 06:44 — How did Sophie start STX and how did she work for it?
- 12:25 — How was Sophie serving the fans and the artists at the same time?
- 15:16 — Was Sophie working with creators individually and where does she take them to?
- 22:35 — How does Sophie quantify the ROI?
- 26:20 — How did Sophie build a campaign for Mike Tyson?
- 31:17 — What will the traditional institutes do when they realize the stars don’t need them to make money anymore?
- 36:42 — Are agents really the best people to protect the artists always or are platforms like Sophie’s safer for them?
- 42:08 — While launching a project, what is Sophie’s strategy to advertise it and attract attention?
- 49:05 — What are some things Sophie can do for creators and talent when she thinks of a new campaign for them?
- 52:28 — What impact does Sophie want to have on the world?
- 54:13 — Where can people connect to Sophie?
- 54:42 — What keeps Sophie up at night?
- 55:13 — What is the biggest challenge Sophie has ever faced in her life?
- 56:42 — Most impactful in Sophie’s life and what did they teach her?
- 57:20 — Any podcast or book recommended by Sophie Watts
- 58:03 — What would Sophie Watts tell her 20-year-old self?
- 58:13 — What does success mean to Sophie Watts?
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Machine Generated Transcript
talent, build, space, people, artist, world, brand, web, STX, movie, voice, company, nf, studio, mike Tyson, audience, thinking, create, fandom, marketing
Scott D Clary, Sophie Watts
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Scott D Clary 00:30
Welcome to success story, the most useful podcast in the world. I’m your host Scott D. Clary. The success story podcast is part of the blue wire podcast network as well as the HubSpot Podcast Network about Podcast Network has other great podcasts like marketing made simple hosted by Dr. JJ Peterson. Now Marketing made simple brings you practical tips to make your marketing easy and more importantly, make it work. If you like any of these topics, you definitely want to go check out the show how to write and deliver a captivating speech, how to market yourself into a new job, how design can help and also hurt your revenue, creating a social media ad strategy that actually works. If these topics resonate with you. Go check out marketing made simple wherever you get your podcasts. Today, my guest is Sophie Watts Sophie is a global media executive with a focus on venture creation for a list stars including Mike Tyson’s legends only League, the sports enterprise which in November of 2020 stage the Tyson Jones fight the eighth most profitable Pay Per View event of all time, previously watched served as the president of STX entertainment, playing an instrumental role in the company’s formation and growth, including the establishment of the fully fledged movie studio, and both reality and scripted TV studios. During her tenure, STX grew from a startup to a multi billion dollar media company that included several studios and secured capital from investors including private equity firms TPG and China based hony capital, Tencent, the Chinese Internet giant Liberty global, the media conglomerate and PCW, the global telecommunications provider. Earlier in her career, she worked in music, film, videos and programming in London. She moved to Los Angeles in 2007, where she was a producer and financier on film projects, including the award winning documentary bully, and the NBC show state of affairs. Watts has been named one of Hollywood’s top dealmakers by Variety listed in Fortune Magazine’s 40 under 40 and featured in varieties power of women report, Hollywood reporters, women and entertainment power 100 And in Elle magazine’s power list. She is currently the co founder and executive chairperson at metacercariae, a leading creative studio for web three, built and deployed an NFT web 3.0 strategy, creative and distribution services for a list talent and corporate brands than a year of launch. She positioned metacercariae into a fully fledged studio, carrying world class brands into the next generation of fandom entertainment, and experiences. So we spoke about her come up story, we spoke about how she grew STX entertainment from a startup into a multibillion dollar media organization. We spoke about financing investing, we spoke about why she is so keen on NF T’s and why they’re going to go mainstream and how blockchain can realign how artists are protected and get paid. We spoke about fundraising in a variety of different markets for traditional media for a list talent, like she did with legends only League and also for the NFT company metacercariae That she’s built right now. We spoke about the actual Mike Tyson’s legends only League, what she did to create fandom and community around somebody like Mike Tyson, building an ecosystem and ownership around the artists voice. Basically, what she’s done for Mike Tyson, what she’s done for Dennis Rodman, what she’s done to create this ecosystem, and this fandom, she does it at an incredibly high level with a list talent, but she’s going to unpack the strategy that she uses to build these communities to build these campaigns, and the marketing the sales, and the approach that she uses to get people excited and fired up about what that artist is doing. And what I hope you can take away from this particular podcast is that if you are a content creator, you can look at the strategy she deployed for Mike Tyson, for example, and you will unpack the lessons that she’s learned the strategy that she deploys, and you can use it for building out your own community and your own fandom in a very in a very niche or micro way. But still the levers that you pull on the steps that you take to create these communities are basically the same whether or not you do it at a Mike Tyson level or you do We’re at a micro influencer micro content creator level. And I’m hoping that’s what you get out of it. So let’s jump right into it. This is Sophie Watts. She is the founder, CEO and executive chairperson of metacercariae.
Sophie Watts 05:19
Probably the most defining moment of my career was back in London in the early 2000s, and I was working with Madonna, live from cocoa, which is a quite famed music venue. In, in London. We were filming Madonna live on stage. And at this point, Facebook had just emerged, I just got this Facebook account. And I typed into Facebook post that said, oh, you know, we’re we’re filming Madonna live from cocoa in London tonight. And the evening came around. And I got a call from a friend of mine in New York. And he said, I’m, I’m in Times Square Sophie. And there are these big screens that are showing Madonna live from Coco. And I just read your social media this this Facebook, have you it’s your this thing called Facebook, where you’re talking about is this you is this, I’m confused. And it was absolutely a moment for me, as a producer, and as a executive. And as someone who had started as a runner, in music, film or PA, it was that moment of streaming will change everything. Social media will change everything. And star power, which in that instance for me was the power of Madonna to truly reach audiences globally, would change the landscape completely. And that is what really kicked off the next almost 20 years of my career, working with a less talent and brands to protect those voices and find new systems to to monetize them.
Scott D Clary 07:14
And help me understand so STX that was the company that you started Correct. Or you were you were an executive at STX. And you grew that over the course the last 20 years to multi billion dollars in revenue valuation. And that was that brand was focused on working with these elitists Correct?
Sophie Watts 07:36
Yeah, so much. So my half right? Yes, stx is a try. I try and be half right at least No, I love it. It is better than a quarter right, which is which is usually me. STX is a movie and television studio that focuses on working with a list stars to produce premium content around their voices. I was president of that that company for nearly a decade, about eight years from inception of of just two employees to what later became a company with a several, several billion dollar valuation with investors including TPG hony, capital in China, Liberty global PCW. But prior to that, that company that star driven studio vehicle, I had worked in music film back in in London. And these were the days when people bought DVDs in their local store and you could buy Beyonce live at Wembley as a DVD and a store. And I did many hundreds of those live music film projects back in in London. And started as I as I’ve I’ve mentioned when Napster came along, and iTunes came along, it was a true moment that you realized, Oh, the DVD is dead. This is all about how the star connects with the audience. And the way audiences want to connect is in the most seamless way possible. And so I took all of those a list musicians I’ve been working with in London, Beyonce, Eminem, Madonna, John, Mariah Carey, and started saying, if these elitist stars are being caught in a system where the record label at the time had not embraced streaming, what would it look like if you were to build a movie and a television studio that did embrace global relationships and did embrace streaming and almost realigned the models so that you were building with an around And that celebrity talent, instead of building around the value of the brand of Disney or the brand of Paramount, so that this was 2007, packed a suitcase moved to Los Angeles, no one here. And that started the next 15 or so years of my career, nearly a decade of that at STX. And that kind of led to my career now, which is very much about how do you embrace web three decentralized models, again, working with elite stars or a list brands to empower their voices. So
Scott D Clary 10:46
I love it. And like that, that thread that you that thread that you discovered when you went on social and you saw that and then your your friends saw that billboard in Times Square, like oh my god, social and streaming, that thread of creating venture and creating value in and augmenting the talents voice versus the brand’s voice, that’s something that you’ve doubled down on again, and again and again. And that’s what you’re doing now.
Sophie Watts 11:11
That’s right. And for me, it’s a, there is a reason if you’re Jennifer Lopez that you’re Jennifer Lopez, I don’t believe on a core level that you’ve lucked into decades of global success. It comes from a true idiosyncratic voice in the marketplace, an understanding of your audience, obviously, you know, gifts and talents that have very few matches in terms of what you’re doing. But Intriguingly, media systems aren’t necessarily built to empower those star driven voices. I look at that and say, Why is a movie studio really not built around the voices of these talents that reach their audiences that speak a certain voice that has no rival in the marketplace? Why would you try to build a company that has a brand that can rival that of an A list celebrity? Why would you not simply back that piece of talent, and protect those voices, and build systems and infrastructure to empower and better monetize those voices? I grew up in a world in which, you know, I was watching movies in the 90s, it was the era of Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts, true star driven eras of of movies. To me, all social media has done is heightened the power of those artists. But how do you financially align yourself to help support the artist in building that brand?
Scott D Clary 12:55
And as it has evolved? Do you see that artists now take more more power over their own careers? And I guess they’re less reliant on these third parties, because you found ways to create value, and you probably better serve. And you can tell me this, but I feel that I know the answer, you better serve the fans, because it’s now you’re creating things that the artist believes and backs and wants it and wants to create in the world. But also, this is stuff that is hyper targeted for the fans. It’s not it’s not from like a publicly traded entity that has to keep their investors and their shareholders happy that you would have to you know, maybe it’s conflicting goals, if it’s a studio or an agency versus, versus the actual creator or the talent, but now that the talents creating things that their fans want directly is that more or less the benefit, and this is what you’re enabling, right?
Sophie Watts 13:47
Yeah, it’s exactly that. And it’s, it’s you nailed the question perfectly, which is, as a fan myself, doesn’t really matter to me, if I’m watching a concert live, or if I’m seeing it streamed, or if I can buy merchandise for it, or if I can engage with that artist on Instagram, I’d like to see a music film I’d like to see the documentary I’d like to see the live action movie. For me. There’s there’s less of a distinction in between. Is this a movie? Or is this a live show? than it is to say this is about fandom and culturally building systems around the voices of those artists. This is only possible because of the advent of technology. The fact a Ronaldo can excuse my slightly yappy dog, that a Ronaldo has 400 million followers on Instagram and can directly communicate with 400 million fans which to contextualise is more fans and more social media followers than any Premier League Soccer Team. In Europe, in fact, more than any of the British soccer teams in the Premier League combined in one individual is while so I look at that and say, is the value here the league? Or is the value here? The player? And if it’s higher? Why does the player not have their own premium content tab and merchandise arm and digital content arm and branding arm? Because that individual has stronger and more engaged fans than any large scale entity in the world? For me, how do you support that?
Scott D Clary 15:47
And, and after after STX. So you this is a focus of yours. And and it’s it’s continued through your career. Now, after STX? Were you working with people individually? Because I know that you also founded metacercariae. But I know that’s that’s probably later on in your career. So I want to understand, like when you worked with like, when you worked with Mike Tyson, for example, I want to understand the place that you work with a creator. And and where do you take them, given examples of people can sort of quantify it? You work with somebody and you create this and you create that? And do you find investors into that project? I want to understand the deal flow because you can take somebody like Mike, like Mike Tyson, that’s the one name that is like very, a huge name that you’ve worked with on I think one of his in 2020 was like one of the most profitable Pay Per View events of all time you worked with him on. But when you take that, how do you decide where to take that? And how do you facilitate taking that person and creating this, this community and this content and all these projects around that person?
Sophie Watts 16:53
So I’m a big believer in taking the voice of an artist, and not trying to reshape that voice and not trying to give notes on that voice. But taking the clear branded relationship of fandom and building a world around us. With Mike. I was introduced to him in early 2020. There were rumblings of COVID happening. I had just left STX. And as those rumblings of you know what’s happening in the world, I went on Mike’s podcast, purely because I thought what a what a global brand, an icon in his own right. It’s kind of fun story to tell my family that I’ve been on a podcast as, as you know, this, this woman from England, I’m on a podcast with Mike Tyson. This is a cool story. And I sat with him and realize very, very quickly, that Mike is or certainly was in a quite unique situation in which, as a traditional movie or TV play, he’s a boxer. So as someone who ran and built her movie and TV studio, how do you engage with someone like Mike because he’s not an actor? He’s not a producer. What do you do with him? And on the flip side, if you’re on the sports side of the world, you look at my you can go well, he’s one of the greatest if not the greatest boxer of all time. But I can’t hire Michael’s boxer because he’s retired. What do I do with this, he doesn’t fit into my model as a sports league or as an agency or as a promoter. And then as I was talking to him on this podcast, it became very clear that he was a prime example of a global voice, a global brand, who could be really effectively monetized and empowered. If you built a system that was outside of these legacy, traditional media plays. And for Him what that meant was, what if you’re not sports? And you’re not entertainment, but your sports entertainment? What would that look like? And we started having a discussion of, well, what if we started not a boxing League? Not a media league? But what if we started a sports entertainment league with you, Mike, where it was about engaging as many fans as possible, reaching as many people as possible, making it fun, and watchable and a family oriented event, but sports is at the core of that, what would that look like? And it was kind of amazing for him to say, Well, what you’re really talking about is an exhibition fight doesn’t go on my record. I’d like to do that. But let’s program as part of that live event. Let’s program Jake Paul, because a much younger demographic Scott Love that let’s program Jake Paul is a boxer. And let’s program Snoop Dogg as a commentator, because it’s fun and it’s entertaining, and it will make people laugh. And let’s program Snoop to perform. Because you’ll get that kind of 90s group of women, not of traditional boxing audience, showing up to relive and have fun listening to music and a live show of entertainment. So we programmed really, a night that was filled with music, with sports with exhibition fights in November. And that live event which had no audience because COVID had kicked in. At that point, no audience live from what was then the Staples Center. Now. crypto.com was a pay per view event. That stream globally broke all records for an exhibition event, but also reached younger demos, female demos, and hold her generation of boxing fanatics who were seeing this icon Mike Tyson. But as part of that, we had a docu series that talked about the live show, we had merchandise that built this sports league for him. And so what you end up with is not a one off media play, but almost venture value of a sports entertainment league that is repeatable. I am a huge believer that stars should own equity, you should have upside in their own voices and their own success. So whichever artist I’m working with, this is not about a one off movie check or a one off live event check this route, owning half of the business that owns all of the IP associated with that brand. It would be like giving an actor to equity through shares and Netflix that becomes a game changer for you financially, and puts you in control of your own fandom and your own relationships as you should be when you’re an icon of that stature.
Scott D Clary 22:05
I just want to take a second to thank the sponsor of today’s episode HubSpot. Now, baking a pie taking candy from babies, both things that are theoretically easy, but anyone who’s ever made a pie from scratch or attempted to pry a lollipop from a screaming toddler knows that these things are in fact very difficult. But you know what is easy? Integrating automating and scaling your business with HubSpot. The HubSpot CRM platform seamlessly transforms customer data into usable insights. Like what’s the average time it takes us to respond to a customer service request? And how can we get better at it. The HubSpot service hub brings all your data and support channels into one place, so your team can spend less time hunting for information and more time delighting customers. Plus seamless connectivity with marketing and sales hubs means every person on your team has a crystal clear picture of your customer. Easy as HubSpot. Learn how HubSpot can make it easier for your business to grow. firstname.lastname@example.org Incredible Now that’s quite, that’s quite a thing to orchestrate. And obviously that’s going to be a ton of resources. And just thinking through it from a business perspective. I don’t know this world, but it seems like what you’re doing that has translated into the largest Pay Per View event of all time is not something that has been done many times before the way that you think about creator owning equity in their own success. And then I can I can definitely see how this is going to dovetail into web three. But when you create this, you’re creating this and this concept in this model of fandom virtually from scratch, like it’s probably not something that is replicated many times over. So when you try and build this out, and I’m assuming you try and raise money for it right? How does that process look? How do you quantify the ROI on investment to something like this?
Sophie Watts 23:53
It’s a brilliant question that each artist whatever their venture may be, has a different business model. Clearly the most efficient way to build a company is and I’m always a builder of disruptive companies were an and I want to be clear here on some on some hands. It’s wildly innovative and forward thinking to build a company around a piece of talent. On the flip side, this is what Disney does for any media property that they own. You would never make a Star Wars movie if you want also making a Star Wars theme park ride and Star Wars tours and add toys and the Mandalorian as a TV show. There is a world almost an atomic community. Whether it’s Pixar or it’s Star Wars or it’s a titles or it’s Marvel. Disney does this better than anyone else in In the world, under that Disney banner, so these micro ecosystems are not a new thought. It’s that we’re replacing the IP or Star Wars with a living, breathing, moving idiosyncratic voice in a star a Mike Tyson. And when it comes to building it from scratch, whilst you’re building the company from nothing, you are leveraging, in Mike’s instance, 80 million people on Instagram alone, you’re leveraging a global fan base that is lived with this voice and this icon for decades, you’re simply taking that voice and monetizing it more efficiently. So in that instance, would you fund the company? Or would you be deeply conservative, as I always am with with investors money, and fund a live event and then have that event roll back as revenue into the company, of course, because you’re diluting yourself last, you’re maximizing your reach, and you’re putting yourself much as you would if you were a startup with VC banking, you’re putting yourself in a position where your ROI is pretty extraordinary, for no risk. So that is how we traditionally build all of our joint ventures with talent. And certainly when it’s come to web three, the basic technology of decentralization automatically reframes how to reach and monetize those audiences, initially through NF T’s, but in a way in which you can truly segment audiences and community and fuel that community consistently.
Scott D Clary 26:49
And so let’s let’s talk about let’s because as you’re building this out, so when you were building this out for Mike Tyson, you did not use NF T’s. This was something that was probably evolving as you were building out this entire this entire campaign for him. But now, I don’t know where it stands. Now, I don’t know if it’s completed or if it’s ongoing. But as you created Medicare ACO, this is going to facilitate exactly what you’re doing for for Mike, but probably at a much larger and more scalable model. Right. Is that sort of the goal with this?
Sophie Watts 27:27
It’s exactly right. Mercuria was designed, you know, there’s a really interesting black hole in web three right now. I will never pretend to be someone who understands the deep tech plays of blockchain or how protocol functions. I’m not a technologist in that sense. And on the flip side, and on the flip side, I go, Well, historically, I’ve taken traditional Hollywood models, and and invited them so that they better protect and support the artist upon whose name you’re really greenlighting a movie, or building a company. So I started looking at web three. And really, it was it was a slew of phone calls that I started receiving from different pieces of celebrity talent, cooling, so you know, sort of you’ve made us lots of money over the last 1520 years. But hold on, I’m reading the New York Times. And there’s some guy cool people, is that what it is, but there’s some million dollar transaction. I really don’t know what it is Sophie, but why is someone making $69 million, and I’m not. And that, for me, was a real Wake Up Call of Oh, who can provide solutions for celebrities in this space. And as you look at the Hollywood appropriately at the Hollywood studios and the Hollywood talent agencies, who are traditionally a kind of gatekeeper for, for working with and engaging with that talent. Those studios and agencies correctly, are not built to understand web three. They don’t need to be built to understand it. They want to take the check from it. But you’re a centralized business model. You’re never going to live and breathe blockchain, like a web three, open see or a ripple or a binance is going to do. On the flip side. These web three companies have never worked with a global multibillion dollar walking talking brands you don’t understand necessarily creative or how to build marketing campaigns. You probably shouldn’t have to. So the theory of meta curio was what if you built a platform agnostic sits in between Hollywood and to traditional decentralized marketplaces, and what if it was a web three studio that exclusively signed the biggest pieces of talent in the world, and handled everything about pulling that talent from traditional Hollywood into a web three space. Bless you. Thank you. You got it. That has translated about a year since inception, we have over 70 client relationships, including Mike Tyson, we’ve done three NFT drops with Tyson. And here’s a perfect example of how, as a company med Acurio, educates artists in the space but handles the creation, the production, the marketing, the community management and ultimately brokers, the distribution for NF T’s and anything associated with with web three for those clients. From a but look, Mike went from a fairly reasonable sized drop with Corey van Lew, who’s a prodigal digital artist in the space to six months later, that sold out in a week. Six months later, Mike sold his finance group of NF T’s about two weeks ago, in early April. He had 24,000 people show up on Twitter spaces within a minute, that NFT collection sold out with an 84 seconds. He truly has a community that for the first time ever, he can clearly segment and clearly reward his community, his fans in a way that’s appropriate. That’s a big future for celebrities.
Scott D Clary 31:46
What do you think traditional institutions are going to do when they realize that the stars don’t need them to make money anymore?
Sophie Watts 31:56
It’s a really interesting question. Because I am asked this all the time, what happens to the agent what happens to the manager. And I’m a deep believer that an agent who has a world class piece of talent is the best at anyone in the world at maximizing how much their client is going to make. And I’m a big believer that a big piece of talent has a manager to help shape decisions in their career. I don’t think those teams of people around the talent are going anywhere. I think truly, they’re the best in the world are protecting their talent and we want them to be there protecting talent. The shift will be less so with talent teams and talent partners than what we’ve seen in the broader media landscape, which is mass consolidation of media giants. We’ve seen Netflix’s stock plummet, given its numbers and its subscriber base dropping. We’ve seen discovery and massive massive consolidation. We’ve seen a very small handful of streaming giants emerge as dominant players in the market. What that’s left is the behemoths and the behemoths are going nowhere. But the behemoths are not incentivized to drive technological change, you are rewarded by being bigger, and spending more money and being a volume play that has no competition. And I’m excited that those buyers exist and dominate the landscape. But what it has meant is that there’s an extraordinary space for forward thinking disruptors to enter the space and build aggressively because those independent players are disappearing on a daily basis. That is an I’m an optimist. That is a real opportunity for new disruptive thinkers to step into the space and build aggressively with forward thinking technologies like blockchain. I do not believe that will come from these monolithic giants.
Scott D Clary 34:18
It will not and I think you actually touched on an interesting point, even the behemoths who are doing well, you look at Netflix, that is a behemoth that did disrupt blockbuster, and they hit a ceiling on their Tam, they hit a ceiling on their Tam, they didn’t diversify their revenue streams. And regardless of whether or not you diversify the tech that you introduced into your organization to your customers, or you diversify just your thoughts about marketing, sales, anything like that, Netflix went down 30 points and lost $200 million, because they didn’t, they weren’t forward thinking enough, even though they’re considered a forward thinking company. So you have to move and iterate quickly and even even Medicare to the version you have of it. Today, you have to be cognizant that it I think it has to always evolve and take on new things and figure out how new technologies can serve existing communities. And I think that because you’re doing it now, you just can’t lose sight of that in 10 years, because then there’ll be somebody else that will displace you. So it’s what you’re saying is not wrong, but it’s smart what you’re doing now, it’s just all of all, I think that I think you can never let it’s like a startup thing. You can never let the drive and the ambition and the way that you look at the world and solve problems as a startup, you can never let that leave. You can never forget that and think like that. It’s always I can’t remember who said this. It’s like, always think like, it’s, you know, day zero or day one that’s probably Bezos actually you said that. You always have to think like that. You have to think like you weren’t thinking they want even when today 5000. But very interesting.
Sophie Watts 35:46
Right? You have to certainly in you know, and I hear this all the time, NFT’s are so far along, it’s to evolve to space for me to understand. I can’t stress enough. This is the beginning of web three. And right now, it’s almost designed for people unless you live and breathe in this protocol space. It’s so complicated to understand. I have to say on the flip side, I walked down the street outside my house, and I asked any person how does the Internet work? I would highly doubt that they can answer that. I couldn’t answer that. But they would understand how to use Google and how to type something again and to have something pop back at them. That will be the transition point for for web three and for blockchain as a broader concept. Less so how the technology works. But how as a mass consumer, can it work for me in a way that is palatable, and not scary, and digestible. And as consumer friendly, we are not there yet. We are in the very, very early days of what this is, which is exciting. But as a result, you have to be ready to pivot on a daily basis to not only capture those opportunities, but to protect people in the space.
Scott D Clary 37:13
Do you find that? You know, you mentioned a point before that, which I also thought was interesting. And you’ve been in this space for so long? So I thought it’d be notable to touch on. You mentioned agents always protect artists, and they’re the best people to protect them. But but does do they really all the time? Do they really always have the best interest? Or will a platform like yours actually create a safer space for some people that may not have the best people around them?
Sophie Watts 37:35
It’s a brilliant debate. It depends how you define protecting the artist, you know, inherent in an agency model is that you’re taking a percentage of what your client is earning. So if you define protecting talent, as protecting the amount of money they make, of course, an agency and an agent is going to do that better than anyone else. Because your job. And the way you earn money is to get the maximum amount of money for your client is maximum guarantees for your client, always the best thing? Maybe, maybe not, I certainly know pieces of talent, big pieces of talent in the web three NFT space, who have taken minimum guarantees for an NF T drop, and have had no upside in the long term value of that NFT. Is that a good thing for the talent, you’ve certainly made much less money than you would have if you’d back the long tail of an NF T strategy. But your money is in your pocket. So who’s right? My answer is always, what does the celebrity what does the piece of talent care about? What did they want? My job here is not to convince a piece of talent to go one way or another because back to our earlier point, there’s probably a reason you’re a piece of talent of that stature. And that caliber, and that reach, you probably know your brand and your team better than anyone else. So let me empower that and protect that. And some of these pieces of talent no longer have talent agents, I would I would support that as well. It’s whatever works for that piece of talent.
Scott D Clary 39:25
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Sophie Watts 43:05
that that’s kind of interesting, actually. Because I’ve always marveled at how a traditional Movie Studio spends 10s of millions of dollars annually, if not more on a billboard on Sunset Boulevard, about the Chateau Marmont. And I truly look at that and go, How could you spend $100,000 a week for a billboard that maybe 10 People see maybe 10,000 People see, but you have no understanding of whether they see the movie care about the movie engaged in the movie, in a landscape in which you can so hyper target audiences. Traditional studios aren’t built to do that. And traditional marketing campaigns aren’t built to be efficient, you rewarded and incentivized for doing things the same way. That’s the great joy of this space. You take a Tyson or a Dennis Rodman. In our instance, we took Robin who’s a client of ours, who again, this is not about my feeling of what audiences were connect with or what I feel would be good for him. We on a very granular basis, say what is his audience based statistically, analytically? What are they care about? What comes back is all they really care about the balls, and they really care about his fashion. They really care about his heart and they really care about his clothing. At which point you say, well, let’s reverse engineer into that audience. What if we were to do an NF T collection that’s about what he’s wearing, what His hair looks like, how he’s engaging as a fashion icon. Let’s respect what his target audience cares about and deliver what they care about. So the creative is very very much in respect of and deliberately targeted to, to market to engage with what his fans want and care about. So we’re instantly entering the space with something creatively that won’t disappoint his audience. And that’s really important to us. We’re not going off brand here, we’re respecting and elongating the brand. And then true to the space community. arenas, whether it’s Twitter spaces or discord are enormous market movers for NFT buyers, we, we curate those communities, we have specialists come up to talk to those communities. And marketing is done as native social advertising. All organically, we don’t pay for any advertising. So you’re really honoring and respecting his inbuilt fan base, which is the entire purpose of what web three Dows is building atomic networks that you can scale as a whole. That is radically different to an in the quarter of a billion dollars of marketing spend that I’ve overseen and movie studios. It is almost the exact opposite.
Scott D Clary 46:21
But it’s it’s funny, because it’s actually what good marketing looks like. Even if we took the the web three component out of it. The fact that you want to understand and to communicate with an audience in a way that is authentic and is and is exactly the way that they expect you to communicate with them. I don’t It’s funny how that doesn’t seem to. It’s not common sense. That’s the way everybody should mark it. Even if you had a quarter of a billion dollars, that’s the way you should still mark it.
Sophie Watts 46:48
So, right. But if you’re a big executive at a studio, you want it to be your taste and your vision and your mind and your marketing, because that’s how you justify your big outsized paycheck.
Scott D Clary 47:01
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Sophie Watts 49:05
Well, school, I will tell you when I showed up in my mid 20s, and said, I’m going to build a movie studio in Hollywood. I cannot tell you the number of people who thought I was a complete lunatic. Historically, you have to, you have to respect existing legacy systems. But common sense is undervalued in this space. And I’m a big believer in in common sense.
Scott D Clary 49:34
I love that. And give me just give me some examples of this of the things that creators and talent can do. When you think of a new campaign for them. What are the different things that you could do for somebody because I want to take the things that you’re doing with talent with a list talent, and I want a smaller creator to also think through different ways that they can try different things with their community because of course, if obviously not The same scale. But still, there’s different ways to replicate at a smaller level that I think you could leverage web three nfts For to give certain access to get to do certain drops of certain things. So what are all the scope of things that you’ve tried to do? Or that you think you would ever want to do with an alias talent in web three?
Sophie Watts 50:17
So look, right now, we’re certainly feeling the transition from static NF T’s, even with iconic photographers. There’s the great debate of if there’s no utility built into this NFT Why am I buying it? And I inherently believe that to be true, when you’re as an emerging creator, as a creator, who is understanding the space is big celebrity in the space, it’s always to me about authenticity of your voice and brand, and respecting that authenticity. And I do you believe that undervalued? As a whole, we’re in a landscape in which suddenly with decentralization, truth and honesty is critical to what you’re doing. And that is sustainable and self syndicating as a brand. Because people know what they’re showing up for if it’s authentic. At meta curio, when you’re buying an NF t, you should be unlocking and certainly are even in the Tyson or Robin instances, you’re unlocking physical utility. So we sold a one of one where you can go and spar with Mike Tyson that sold for about 400 grand, we have a partnership with a company called RandR, which is a physical object that is basically a printout of your NFT. So you have physical merchandise, that can be a physical key to unlock a physical space that you can visit, whether it’s an artist’s studio, or it’s their, their, their creative workspace, you’re then interacting with that star, maybe you can use that physical key, which is also a digital asset, to attend a concert, maybe that live concert is an excuse to get a free hot dog from the venue. Maybe that free hot dog also unlocks a VIP experience. To me building utility on top of NF T’s to build true fan is the ultimate win in this space, whether you’re a multi multi, multibillion dollar walking brand, or you’re an emerging creator, that ability to truly understand and build, fandom, and reward your loyal fans with experience and engagement. That is just a game changer on almost every level. And it’s exciting for everyone. It’s exciting for the fan, but it’s certainly exciting for the Creator as well.
Scott D Clary 52:57
I love that. And I guess last question before we do I want to do a couple rapid fire to close this out. What What impact do you see yourself having? What impact do you want to have? It could be at a micro level in your category and industry or at a macro level? What’s at this point in your career, your your vision and your passion?
Sophie Watts 53:17
I I’m probably still too English. To think that I could you know, it’s that that English humility, where you’re kind of embarrassed to talk about having any impact or meaning. I’ve spent my entire career wanting to and believing that art is one of the most powerful mediums in the world. I think that ability to shape the way people feel, the way people engage is is critically important. Certainly in a time right now, that’s a really complicated moment in history. Everything I do is designed to try and empower and build upon and respect that art. Whether it’s NF T’s or it’s movies, whether it’s book publishing, or it’s live music film, my hope would be that any of my jayvees any of my companies, any of my talent, relationships matter curio our infrastructures that help artists speak to their audiences and engage with their worlds and make people feel good. Ultimately, if it can help people feel happy or excited or laugh or cry or build a sense of community that’s what I hope to do in my life and
Scott D Clary 54:42
grow up credible. Okay, where should people reach out to you if they want to connect is socials website all of that?
Sophie Watts 54:50
They should ping us on Twitter at meta curio NFT
Scott D Clary 54:55
Okay, perfect. Do you have your own socials you want to send people to as well or just is that the main one
Sophie Watts 55:00
That’s the main one because it’s never about me. It’s always about Well,
Scott D Clary 55:04
alright, I’m okay with that. That’s no prob. Okay, let’s go through a couple rapid fire. You don’t have to rapid fire through them. But no, the point is, there’s a few of them. Okay? What keeps you up at night now?
Sophie Watts 55:17
What keeps me up is the pace in which the world is moving. And there are such tremendous opportunities in front of us in media, blockchain and web three. And I’m conscious that I’ve built a system that’s designed to protect the artist, I want to ensure that we’re moving fast enough that that art is always protected.
Scott D Clary 55:43
Good, very good, biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your personal life? What was it? How did you overcome it? What do you learn from it?
Sophie Watts 55:52
It’s a McCobb answer, actually, which is that I have put less focus on my family and relationships than I should have in a pursuit for work, and ultimately have learned that I’ve missed some great and critical moments in my life as a as a result of that.
Scott D Clary 56:18
That is, that’s tough. That’s a tough thing to come to realize. But I think it’s an important lesson because you’re, you’re still very young, in the grand scheme of things, you can definitely fix things and do things differently. But it’s a thing that’s always I think that’s the first victim of success in any field. Its friends, family, relationships, children, spouse, it’s those are the things that you don’t spend as much time on. So I think it’s a good note. For people that are trying to build something or to create something, you have to pay attention to that.
Sophie Watts 56:45
And I do ultimately think, you know, it’s Francis Ford Coppola statement where he said, in loose terms, you know, I, when I’m on my deathbed, I want to say that I said yes to loving everything, and engaging with everything and feeling good about everything. And I’m not gonna sit there, thinking about how much money I made, I’m gonna sit there thinking about my grandchildren and my family, my wife, and my home and my beautiful view and be grateful for it.
Scott D Clary 57:13
If you had to choose one person who’s had a major impact in your life, who was that person? What did they teach you?
Sophie Watts 57:20
My mother was a deeply entrepreneurial record executive, she was the first employee at Virgin Records back in the day in London. She taught me to protect art. She taught me that it doesn’t matter how successful you are. Kindness is more important than anything. And she taught me to be good to people. And I will forever think of them.
Scott D Clary 57:51
If you had to pick one source, it could be a book, a podcast, it could be anything that’s had an impact on your life that you’d recommend people go check out.
Sophie Watts 58:01
Chi Minh, I’m a music. I’m a Music Fanatic, and a movie junkie, I consume almost any form of art on a really rabid basis. So it would be tough for me to pick one thing, but I will also say that I am a trained classical pianist. You throw a piece of music at me and I find that quite moving. So I would say the piano changed my life in lots of ways.
Scott D Clary 58:34
If you could tell your 20 year old self one thing, what would it be?
Sophie Watts 58:37
Go for it. Stop worrying.
Scott D Clary 58:41
Good advice. Always good advice. timeless. And if you could. Last question scuze me. And if you had to define success, what does success mean to you?
Sophie Watts 58:53
That’s a big one. Because it has changed over the years and at its root. I think success is happiness. And I think happiness is wanting what you have. And when you have when you found that you should hold on to it
What’s up y’all I’m David and I’m justice and the doji podcast is now part of blue wire network. considering getting back to X want to know if a pickup line works or maybe you’re just stuck in a friend zone. Don’t trip as advice had no price, and we’re always gonna keep it real. We engage directly with our listeners with funny segments such as sipping or pimpy or we write pickup lines. I question stands at the unanswerable we’re live listen to Collins listen to don’t trip on Spotify, Apple podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts and catch the video versions on YouTube every week.
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